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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dawgs to Watch No. 10: Richard Samuel

Richard Samuel looks every bit the grown man. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds of muscle, he can be an intimidating figure, even among his fellow running backs. It's easy to forget Samuel is the youngest member of Georgia's roster.

"I always forget Richard Samuel is 17 years old," fullback Shaun Chapas said. "He looks so good all the time. Sometimes you'll see him do something on film, and you'll forget how young he is. He's awesome."

Samuel had been at Georgia for nearly a month before he turned 17 in February. He had graduated Cass High School in Cartersville early after rushing for nearly 1,500 yards and 24 touchdowns during his senior season.

Of course, with his imposing size, limiting him to running back would have been a waste of resources. Samuel also played defense, recording 82 tackles his senior year, including nine for a loss.

It's not likely he'll play on that side of the ball for the Bulldogs, but he has shown excellent hands as a pass-catcher, and head coach Mark Richt thinks he could make some noise on special teams as well.

"I think Richard Samuel is probably a very outstanding candidate for kickoff return," Richt said.

It's not just spot duty on special teams, however, that Samuel is playing for this preseason. Running backs coach Tony Ball said Samuel is locked in a close battle for the No. 2 running back spot with redshirt freshman Caleb King. A recent injury to King, along with starter Knowshon Moreno, has given Samuel plenty of opportunities to impress.

"By them being out, it allows me to get more reps, let coaches see my ability, see where I'm lacking, see what I need to improve on," Samuel said.

What Samuel has done with those extra reps has only helped his cause. He has put up impressive numbers in each of Georgia's early scrimmages, and figures to earn some significant playing time regardless of who earns the primary back-up job.

"I'm looking at as a close competition, studying my plays and making sure I look over everything, make sure I'm doing everything right," Samuel said. "But I'm also going out and doing my very best at everything else, doing what the coaches taught me, and whatever happens, happens."

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