Georgia took a step to shore up its depth at tailback on Thursday with word that Richard Samuel is returning to the position.
The 6-foot-2, 243-pound junior worked at linebacker since coming over from the offense after the 2009 season. He redshirted last season.
The move comes nearly a week after redshirt senior Caleb King was declared academically ineligible. That followed the parting of ways with junior Washuan Ealey, who transferred to Jacksonville State last month.
The Bulldogs were down to just three scholarship tailbacks, two of whom have never played a college down.
“After discussions with Richard, his family and our coaches I’m excited that Richard wants to make the move,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. “He’s one of our fastest and most powerful players, is very mature, has a strong character and is a man we can count on.”
“I’m proud of him for always putting the team first and I look forward to seeing what he can do.”
Samuel, who was a backup inside linebacker on the depth chart, could take some of the pressure off highly touted freshman Isaiah Crowell.
Samuel rushed for 528 yards in two seasons, more yards than anyone else currently at the position. The five-star recruit out of Cartersville started six games in 2009, rushing for 104 yards on 16 carries in a win at Arkansas. He was eventually passed on the depth chart and moved to defense after the season.
After losing Ealey and King — Georgia’s top two rushers in the last two seasons — the Bulldogs also have redshirt junior Carlton Thomas (364 career rushing yards) and redshirt freshman Ken Malcome at tailback.
“I’m excited about the opportunity at tailback,” Samuel said in a statement. “I’m ready to do anything that will help the team win.”
Note: Georgia will look to some freshmen for snaps at inside linebacker. It hopes Kent Turene from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., can be one of those players, but Georgia is still awaiting Turene’s certification by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Another freshman signee, cornerback Devin Bowman from Ridgeland, needs to pass an English portion of the Georgia High School Graduation Test to qualify.