Who’ll win the tailback job?

   Athens – Truth is, you won’t know who’s starting at tailback for Georgia until August, at the earliest.  But I thought you might like to hear how Mark Richt evaluates two leading candidates at this ridiculously early juncture.

   “I think that they’re both doing a nice job,” Richt said Tuesday evening, referring to Caleb King and Carlton Thomas.  “It’s just hard to sit there [after five spring practices] and start deciding who should be where.

  “I think Carlton has done a very nice job of running the ball. He probably has made more people miss and broken more tackles at this point than Caleb has.

    “But Caleb is doing an outstanding job himself. Caleb has a little bit more experience at pass protecting and things like that.

   “We just need to get both of those guys a lot more reps in pass protection, quite frankly, to be able to start separating them.”

  King, who will be a redshirt sophomore in the fall, and Thomas, the 5-7, 170-pounder who will be a redshirt freshman, have generally been splitting reps with the No. 1 offense in spring drills.   That’s “the only fair way” to evaluate them, running backs coach Bryan McClendon said – “see what they do with the same guys and against the same guys.” Here’s a full interview with McClendon about the position.

   King and Thomas will be joined in competition soon by another scholarship tailback, redshirt freshman Dontavius Jackson, who is working his way back from arthroscopic knee surgery. He practiced on a limited basis in a green non-contact jersey Tuesday. “He actually got knocked down one time,” Richt said. “Somebody hit him when they shouldn’t have. But he popped up and was fine, and that was good.”  Richt said Jackson might be cleared to fully participate in practice by next week, certainly by the end of spring drills.

  Another prime candidate for the starting tailback position, sophomore Richard Samuel, is sidelined after undergoing wrist surgery in January. He won’t be able to join the competition for Knowshon Moreno’s old job until summer.

   King? Thomas? Jackson? Samuel? Or tailback by committee?  How do you see this shaping up come Sept. 5 at Oklahoma State?



101 comments Add your comment

[...] In the AJC, Chip Towers examines who might win the Georgia tailback job. [...]

Columbus Dawg

March 25th, 2009
6:28 am

I don’t know who will be listed #1, but it sounds like we have less to worry about at the tailback position in general than first thought. Can’t wait to see Carlton Thomas play in the G-Day game! Go Dawgs!


March 25th, 2009
6:29 am

I hate to say it will probably be by committee, but I’m a believer in letting one back take the lion’s share of the carries. That way the offense gets in a rythm. However, its only happened twice in the past 8 year with Richt. Musa and Knowshon…. With the experience and the maturity of the line, a toddler should be able to move the chains though.

[...] In the AJC, Chip Towers examines who might win the Georgia tailback job. [...]


March 25th, 2009
7:35 am

I hope I’m mistaken BUT I know it’s NOT gonna be King.


March 25th, 2009
7:44 am

Hard to say. UGA is in excellent shape at the RB position. King obviously has exceptional talent and Samuel and Jackson are tremendously athletic. All of these guys have some size and sufficient speed to take it to the house. But guys, Carlton Thomas is Knowshon lite with a lot more speed. While probably too small to be an every down back, this guy is going to break some games wide open. He can be used in some very creative sets. He did some things in practice the other day that had me going WOW!! Mike Bobo is going to have more offensive firepower at his disposal in 09 than has been present at UGA in many a year. I can’t wait to see this offense in game situation.


March 25th, 2009
7:48 am

Depth is a beautiful thing!


Johnny DangerDawg

March 25th, 2009
7:49 am

Carlton sounds like a Tyson Browning, the kind of guy who can make a guy miss and run for a long TD. But when the O-line didn’t open up anything, Browning couldn’t drag tacklers for a few yards the way that stronger RBs can. Unless Carlton has incredible strength for his size (as Thomas Brown did), he won’t earn the starting job.


March 25th, 2009
8:16 am

Does it really matter who is #1? It sounds like we are in good shape here. I would expect King to pull away by next season. However, we will probably see a 3 man rotation. I also agree that Thomas’ diverse skill set gives us a TON of options because he is so different. Also, he should be a factor on special teams. Let’s hope that Chapas is healthy all year. We will need him also. Looks like the DAWGS are healthy in the backfield.


March 25th, 2009
8:22 am

Andy in Ohio

March 25th, 2009
8:23 am

I’ve always felt it was between Richard Samuel and Caleb King. I think that Caleb King definitely has the most experience and will likely be better at pass protection than Samuel. Samuel’s lack of practice time this spring could hurt his chances for playing a lot in the fall, but from what he showed last year, he’s a fighter.

Thomas looks to be a good change of pace back and likely has more speed than the rest of the guys. I’d still like to see some two back sets out there. I don’t think Thomas would win the starting job, but I could see him getting a third or less of the snaps once the official “starter” is decided upon. I’m thinking we’ll probably be seeing a tailback by committee starting out, and then they’ll get a solid go-to guy about 3-4 games in.

paul in J-ville

March 25th, 2009
8:28 am

Johnny Danger….its already been established he is a fireplug and is strong for his dimenutive size, the key is he makes people miss alot, similar to Knowshon. I think he may be more of Thomas Brown with better speed, he is just unproven thus far.
I hope the “D” has been working on tackling below the shoulder pads this spring, last year was a joke. Nobody other than Rennie Curran could lay the wood on someone as our open field tackling was nothing short of D-II skills. I know we have better coaches than that, hopefully they will coach up this year.
Same goes for D-backs…..I hope someone teaches them to start playing the ball instead of “face-guarding” the receivers. Terrible technique, especially from Asher Allen who was regarded as our best cover guy. Safety’s have to learn the same, but need to get back to the old UGA way of zero-ing in on receivers and smacking them as the ball arrives. UFL did a great job of that last year with their D-backs, hope we can do the same.
Offense looks potentially terrific with alot of weapons, especially at receiver. Losing MoMass definately is a downgrade, but we have some bonofide studs in the wing like Tavarres King, Moore, Marlon Brown, obviously AJ and others. Line will mature and open holes for the backs, we will be just fine. Alot is on Joe’s shoulder, however, I think he will bring fire and CONSISTENCY to the position. Even though Staff is going to be a better than average Pro, he could totally dissapear in games and I hope Joe picks up that part of the game.
Other than that, I should be coaching again.


March 25th, 2009
8:33 am

I still think Claeb King will win the starting job. But, I think it is abundantly clear that we will be seeing another tailback by commitee. Unless there are injuries that let one emerge form the pack, we will probably be seeing a commitee approach all year. I think Richard, Jackson, or King could go-to-guys. I just don’t know if they will be given the chance.

Like Coach Richt says, it might come down to whoever can pass blcok better. Look for Thomas to be used on special teams, screen passes, third downs, and outside runs a lot though.


March 25th, 2009
8:39 am

Carlton Thomas is Georgia answer to Florida’s Percy Harvin. Get ready he is very fast and good.

powderdawg in denver

March 25th, 2009
8:48 am

September can,t get here soon enough!! wooof!


March 25th, 2009
8:56 am

So it sound like it’s a foregone conclusion that Ealey will RS? Not that I would disagree, 5 backs is a lot of depth and you could have some interesting alignments with Thomas as a scatback and all those receivers and stud TEs. Should be fun


March 25th, 2009
8:57 am

The stated reason that Samuel got more playing time last year than King was that he was better at pass blocking. And as quoted in this article: “We just need to get both of those guys a lot more reps in pass protection, quite frankly, to be able to start separating them.”

I think it’s clear how CMR is going to base his evaluation of who plays and who don’t. With our receiving corps we will see an increased emphasis on the passing game and your RBs will not only have to block but also be able to catch out of the backfield.

I think both Samuel and King will get their chance to be “the man” and Jackson will get some mop-up duty early in the season in order to be ready to go should one of the others go down.

Carlton should get some special 3rd down package to take advantage of his speed and elusiveness as well as returning some kicks.

Washaun gets to sit and watch for a year (which could be a good thing for academic reasons) unless he comes in and really knocks someone’s socks off.

Grandma said, “Boy, stop wishing your life away”. I can hardly wait for September!! Go DAWGS!!!


March 25th, 2009
9:00 am

Johnny DangerDawg…I thought the same thing about Carlton Thomas…He reminds me alot of Tyson Browning. Which is a good thing if we don’t run him right up the gut every time like we did with Browning.

Andy in Ohio

March 25th, 2009
9:27 am

To you guys saying that Thomas would be a third down back, that doesn’t make any sense to me. You want a big strong back in there that’s able to power through the defense. Thomas strikes me as a 1st or 2nd down back.


March 25th, 2009
9:27 am

Ealey will be toting the rock at Hargrave this fall. Forget about it…..


March 25th, 2009
9:34 am

Can someone explain these SEC Links posts? They don’t make a lot of sense.

Bird Dog Tavern

March 25th, 2009
9:38 am

We’re stacked!!!


March 25th, 2009
9:56 am

I’d like to see us pound Richard Samuel down some throats similar to the way Alabama did with Glen Coffee last year. Soften them up a little bit and then throw in some Carlton Thomas or Caleb King for a change up. If our O-line doesn’t completely suck the offense should be pretty good in 2009.


March 25th, 2009
9:59 am

LOADED.. the difference from last year to this year DEPTH. We have alot of DEPTH at every catergory of the game. Guys we are going to seem like night and day compared to last year. I know thats hard to swallow but we will feel so much more relaxed knowing we have someone to back us up.


March 25th, 2009
10:04 am

What we know about the O: Cox SHOULD be able to manage the game enough to move the ball and get it to the playmakers. We are stacked at RB and WR. OL is back and healthy, for now.

What we know about the D: ??? Jeff Owens will be back. That’s the extent of what we know.

Tony, exNFLplayer- what about the D? We keep hearing about Cox and the RBs but whose impressing on the D? Whose stepping up? Whose turning some heads?

Bird Dog Tavern

March 25th, 2009
10:07 am

Yeah, the secondary really worries me, for obvious reasons. However, I think Asher leaving is a blessing in disguise. That kid under-achieved in every game.


March 25th, 2009
10:12 am



Doug Carrow

March 25th, 2009
10:21 am

While it is nice to have a UGA name on the leader board, there are also advantages to running back by committee. This makes the defense’s job of defending the type of runner in there more difficult. They will have to know the qualities and tendancies of each back…I think committee has its advantages, especially when all four of these guys are different.


March 25th, 2009
10:30 am

Being number one means little…..Knowshon was the man without a doubt and he got about half or so of the carries. Our 35 or so rush’s a game will be spread over 3 backs. Count on it. No clear starter among this group,

bank walker

March 25th, 2009
10:47 am

I’ve been hearing alot of great things about Thomas!


March 25th, 2009
10:47 am

This is actually lousy. If there was an elite back in the group he would separate himself. No one remembers the Lumpkin/Ware/Brown dud of backfield in 2006?

the real Old Gold

March 25th, 2009
10:58 am

The Rev.

March 25th, 2009
11:04 am

whoever can get admitted (not that hard), stay in school (even easier) or not get arrested (the real challenge).


March 25th, 2009
11:08 am

All of UGA backs are different I coached against C King his junior year at Parkview he had one of the most remarkable years in Ga HS history 2500 yds he is a glider and good reciever out of the backfield.R Samuels big power back needs to run lower to the ground-C Thomas very fast and hard to tackle Barry Sanders type-D Jackson very fast and strong can run between the tackles or outside around 5-10 194.Whoever stays healthy and gets the most reps will seperate themselves-all are very capable.

[...] backs coach Bryan McClendon says the job of starting tailback is wide open at this point.UGA:  But Mark Richt is bragging about backs Caleb King and Carlton Thomas.UF:  Florida was once again dominated inside in a 71-62 [...]

Charlotte Dawg

March 25th, 2009
11:16 am

Good point austindog. We’ve always done better with a solid #1 horse. (2002-M.Smith; 2007-Moreno after half way through the season). Our offense was really clicking in those years.

Furthermore, it seemed that every time Moreno came out in 2008, the offense would just fall apart. If our OL was expected to be this good, I’d be more worried for sure!!!

[...] the AJC looks at our tailback situation. I’ve got to tell you that I’m not at all excited about the situation back there right [...]

Exley DAWG

March 25th, 2009
11:21 am

I like the different “types” of backs that we have. This will give Bobo options based on field position, etc. Sounds like Thomas will be recieving alot of screen passes in the open, King will get alot of pitch-outs, and Samuel will run between the tackles. Forget about Ealey. If he has trouble getting out of high school(he has failed a grade you know)then he needs time to grow and learn.


March 25th, 2009
11:24 am

Every defensive coordinator in the conference started licking his chops when King went in the game. First of all he is a soft runner and goes down really easy. Secondly, they knew he couldn’t or wouldn’t pass block, so they dialed up an all out blitz. check the game films. King is not the answer. Maybe the OL can help the running back be a better blocker. OKST will be coming after Joe Cox like the land rush in Oklahoma. How about two fullbacks in for protection?


March 25th, 2009
11:29 am

Charlotte Dawg, the year that Musa was our horse our offense did very well. But it wasn’t becasue of Musa. It was because of Greene, Edwards, out TE’s and our exceptional passing game. Musa was very average except towards the end of the season and in the SEC championship game. He really started to come into his own then. When he left that year early to go to the NFL I was kind of shocked. I felt like he could of really up’d his draft value from sticking around another year.


March 25th, 2009
11:50 am

I’m a big UGA fan and CMR fan, but what is up with that hat he wears every spring?

What about the D?

March 25th, 2009
11:56 am

Who really cares who the running back will be? What about the defense? Who’s gonna step up at CB? Will the safeties actually make some tackles? Do we even have any D1 DE’s on the roster? Worst D in the SEC last year in my humble opinion…


March 25th, 2009
12:24 pm

Too hard to predict, but I saw more hope from Samuel than King last year. Thomas coming on the scene is great. If the UGA line dominates, we probably want the guy best at hitting the hole quickly. I have no idea if Thomas is that guy, but he sounds like a nice piece of the competitive puzzle.

If Thomas can’t handle full-time duty but shows great vision and quickness, throw him in with the Logan Gray package and watch those two spread a defense out. (I know UGA will get Logan on the field more this year….. right?)


March 25th, 2009
12:32 pm

spike, not everyone looks good with a backwards ball cap.


March 25th, 2009
12:35 pm

I think it’ll be a TB platoon/combo. We need to fully utilize the strengths of each TB & divide reps (unless one really shines this spring & pre-season). I’d like to see a few dual-TB sets from time-2-time as well. We also need to get Chapas some carries & passes, as we underutilized Southerland the last few season (granted he was injured the 1st part of last season). As a few folks alluded to, the D is the biggest question (potential “weak link”.

Spike – CMR’s spring hat (style) is from his days on the FSU staff.

BS Patrol

March 25th, 2009
12:43 pm

Must be spring practice time. Scrote-lickers are getting delusional again.

Tech sucks

March 25th, 2009
12:45 pm

“I hope I’m mistaken BUT I know it’s NOT gonna be King.”

That sentence makes absolutely no sense.


March 25th, 2009
12:48 pm

I agree that we are in good shape in that we have four talented running backs. However, being in good shape is different than having a back like knowshon… he will be missed.

I think we will be OK, mostly because of offensive line. With Searles coaching them up the last 2 years and some pretty serious talent, experience, and size at the position… not to mention depth heading into the fall, this should be the best offensive line we have had in several years and should make this group look better than they actually are.


March 25th, 2009
12:59 pm

AlamahaDawg.. You are correct, of course. But I think in this case anything would be better than that thing. Even a backward cap,


March 25th, 2009
1:04 pm

BS, that dog will bite you…..