On a Fourth of July trip to Lake Sinclair, Richard Samuel sat down and talked with Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley about some of the nitty gritty of playing tailback for Georgia.
‚ÄúWe talked about coverages, talked about what to look at, talked about the schemes of defenses,‚Äù Samuel said Saturday before signing autographs at the Countdown to Kickoff fan festival at the Woodruff Practice Fields.
The fifth-year senior offered wisdom to the two freshmen just days after leading rusher Isaiah Crowell was dismissed after his arrest on felony weapons charges.
That meant Georgia will need to rely on Marshall, Gurley and probably Samuel even more.
‚ÄúI feel like being a veteran, I‚Äôll be able to pull them to the side and say look for this and look for that,‚Äù Samuel said Saturday at the annual Countdown to Kickoff event that organizers estimated brought out about 1,000 fans. ‚ÄúI feel like I can greatly help them.‚Äù
There‚Äôs now more opportunity for Samuel to get his own snaps at tailback.
That‚Äôs something to be happy about, right?
‚ÄúI‚Äôm not sure,‚Äù Samuel said. ‚ÄúI was really excited and interested in playing fullback. I got my mind ready. I got prepared. I was just excited about it.‚Äù
That was before Crowell was booted from the team June 29.
Samuel‚Äôs summer has been less eventful, although he did get away on a four-day cruise to Cozumel, Mexico, with some friends.
After working at fullback this spring, Samuel will begin preseason primarily as a tailback again, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Friday.
Georgia also has redshirt sophomore Ken Malcolme and Brandon Harton and Kyle Karempelis, both of whom came to Georgia as walk-ons.
‚ÄúThey might be a little bit more dependent on me back at the tailback position,‚Äù said the 6-foot-2, 237-pound Samuel, who has 768 career rushing yards, including 240 last season. ‚ÄúWe have Ken and the two young guys, plus we have Harton and Kyle. I‚Äôm a veteran, I‚Äôm a senior. I‚Äôve been there. I‚Äôve played that position. I know what it takes. I feel like they may be a tad bit more dependant on me at that position, but I also feel like I also have the fullback position as well. I‚Äôll be interchangeable between both.‚Äù
Several of Samuel‚Äôs former teammates were back in Athens for Countdown to Kickoff, including cornerback Brandon Boykin, receiver Kris Durham, linebacker Rennie Curran and offensive linemen Ben Jones and Trinton Sturdivant.
It‚Äôs the seventh year for the event, hosted by former Bulldogs offensive linemen Matt and Jon Stinchcomb and quarterback David Greene.
Players signed autographs and posed for pictures. Kids played on rides and everyone tried to stay cool in the summer heat.
Many current players were also on hand including linebacker Jarvis Jones, cornerback/receiver Malcolm Mitchell, safety Bacarri Rambo, receiver Tavarres King and nose guard John Jenkins. Former Bulldogs Scott Woerner and J.T. Wall also attended.
Georgia players, who are already working out on campus, officially report on July 31, and the first practice is Aug. 2.
They‚Äôve had a couple of weeks to get used to the fact that Crowell, one of the highest profile players on the team, is no longer with them.
‚ÄúIt sucks that he made a mistake, but it happens,‚Äù guard Dallas Lee said. ‚ÄúI wish him all the best of luck at Alabama State and moving on with his life, but I wish he was here.‚Äù
Lee said he expects the other tailbacks to ‚Äúpick up the slack‚Äù after Crowell‚Äôs departure.
‚ÄúI feel like sometimes that‚Äôs part of the game,‚Äù senior linebacker Mike Gilliard said. ‚ÄúYou lose guys and when adversity hits, what are you going to do? That situation we handled it well and we‚Äôre going to keep moving forward. We‚Äôve got some legit guys who can play this year ‚Äî Keith Marshall, Ken Malcome, I‚Äôm just excited about those guys. I know those guys can get the job done as well.‚Äù
Matt Stinchcomb, a studio analyst for ESPNU and Southeastern Conference games, said Crowell being booted from the team may be a distraction, but doesn‚Äôt think it has to keep Georgia from being a force still this season.
‚ÄúGuys get suspended, guys get kicked off, if it‚Äôs not a distraction to some extent, if guys don‚Äôt notice that one of their teammates isn‚Äôt around anymore, you‚Äôve got a chemistry problem and an awareness problem,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúThese guys know they lost a tailback, they lost a guy that probably could have contributed this fall. At the same time, this is a team, and if you can‚Äôt adhere to the rules, policies, regulations and laws of this country and this program, then you have to recognize that you can‚Äôt be a part of it any more. I think that‚Äôs what we‚Äôve seen transpire here. If this team is going to go on to great things, they should be more than capable of seeing past what‚Äôs happened with the tailback position.‚Äù
Notes: Georgia has sold out all of its season tickets and tickets for the Sept. 22 game against Vanderbilt. Tickets remain for the Sept. 1 opener against Buffalo and Sept. 15 game against Florida Atlantic. ‚Ä¶Bobo said Friday that coaches were still ‚Äúplaying around‚Äù with where freshman John Theus will line up on the offensive line when practices start. Lee figures it will be ‚Äúone of the tackle spots. That‚Äôs where everybody has him hyped up. I‚Äôm hoping he‚Äôs that good.‚Äù ‚Ä¶Ben Jones, a rookie center with the Houston Texans, has worked out this month in Athens. ‚ÄúThis is the closest heat to Houston and you‚Äôve got a great strength program here to put me through a workout,‚Äù said Jones, who has worked with speed coach Sherman Armstrong ‚Ä¶Saturday‚Äôs event benefited Children‚Äôs Healthcare of Atlanta and the Georgia Transplant Foundation.