Q&A WITH TAILBACK RICHARD SAMUEL
Richard Samuel walked into an interview with reporters Friday morning wearing dark blue slacks, a light blue dress shirt and tie. No, he wasn’t looking to impress a bunch of sportwriters as a resurrected tailback. He’s actually working this summer as an intern in UGA’s compliance office. And, no, he said he has “no idea” what’s going happen regarding Jarvis Jones’ eligibility. As for his recent move to tailback from linebacker, Samuel seemed very positive and upbeat about the situation. While he knows the position isn’t going to be handed to him, he did seem confident about his chances of becoming the starter before the Bulldogs’ season opener against Boise State on Sept. 3. Following is the exchange of questions and answers between Samuel and reporters covering the UGA beat:
Q: So what’s this week been like for you?
A: “It’s been a little confusing. I had some tough decisions to make.”
Q: Ultimately was the decision left up to you or were you told ‘this is what we need you to do?’
A: “It was more like the option or the opportunity was brought up. It was like, ‘Richard, think about this.’ We went through the scenarios of the offense and the defense and the possibility of playing. So it was like, ‘think about this and let us know what you want to do. Nobody is going to make you make a decision. It’s all up to what you want to do.’ It was totally left up to me.”
Q: Were you called up to Mark Richt’s office?
A: “Yes, it was Coach Richt. I had a feeling something was coming. You know, you hear little rumors and talk about it. It came up only after Caleb’s situation.”
Q: So you knew what was coming?
A: “I had a feeling after hearing that [Caleb King] was completely done. If you look at the history, there’s no other backs besides Carlton [Thomas] that had playing time. So something was going to have to be done.”
Q: Do you think it will be difficult to make the transition back to tailback after working so diligently to learn defense the last year or so?
A: “I still remember most of it. Yesterday was my first day in pass skel and I still remembered most of the plays and most of the blocking schemes. Everything is mostly the same.”
Q: Were you guaranteed playing time?
A: “It’s a complete competition. Like Coach said, I can’t come over and they just hand me to position. It’s straight competition. The best man’s going to play.”
Q: What tipped the scale on your decision to move back to offense?
A: “What tipped the scale was thinking I have two years left and also looking at where I am on the depth chart, my abilities and the guys that are ahead of me at linebacker on defense. And then considering the whole running back situation and the fact that there are no veteran besides Carlton playing running back. I was thinking about how can I be on the field with the most quickness, or how can I get playing time. I was thinking about that and weighing through the options. I was thinking about staying on defense and possibly rotating depending on what kind of rotation they’re going to do or go to offense where I’ve been and I’ve played and have a history playing.”
Q: How much do you weigh right now?
A: “About 238.”
Q: Do you need to lose weight?
A: “I’m OK with the weight. I just have to get back into the running back scheme, cuts and the stuff a running back should be able to do.”
Q: Did you feel like you were progressing as a linebacker?
A: “I was starting to get comfortable with it and learning the defense. I was getting used to the pass coverage. I was getting comfort with the reps I was getting. I was getting more used to it.”
Q: This is your third position change after having to decide to play running back or linebacker coming out of high school. How would you describe your UGA career to this point?
A: “I would describe my career as a career full of opportunities. I didn’t redshirt my freshman year, started my sophomore year, things weren’t going so well, decided to follow another avenue at linebacker and then redshirted last year. And then here’s another opportunity to go back to play running back and be able to do something and make changes and learn from the time I was playing running back. So it’s just another opportunity.”
Q: Has it been a frustrating process?
A: “The knee thing was the most frustrating part. The transition wasn’t that frustrating. I was able to get used to it and play some on the scout team. But the whole knee thing kept me from being on the field period.”
Q: How’s the knee now?
A: “It feels 100 percent now.”
Q: So any chance you go back to linebacker after one season?
A: “This is a two-year commitment. I’m going to end my career playing running back.”
Q: What makes you feel you’ll perform better at tailback this time?
A: “I feel like I’m more mature. I know how to look at a situation and analyze things abetter and make better decisions. Back when I was 17, I was just doing what the coaches said instead of looking outside the box to make sure I get the job done.”
Q: What do you need to improve on?
A: “I have to say play with more instincts and stop thinking so much. Not thinking so much about whether I’m on the right track or hitting the right hole or doing things so much by the book.”
Q: So now that the position change is a done deal, how do you feel?
A: “I’m more excited about it. Like I said, I’m back to something I have a history with and I kind of know. I have a good feeling about it. I’m not as stressed to learn a whole new playbook. So I’m more excited about it. I’m just excited, I don’t know how to explain it.”
Q: What did you weigh when you last played tailback?
A: “I was like 225.”
Q: Are you going to have to lose weight to play running back?
A: “No, as long as my speed and ability hasn’t decreased, Coach doesn’t care what my weight is.”
Q: What was the most you weighed after you moved to defense?
A: “The most I was was like 241 or 242. I feel like I could play at that weight. The only thing I I’m going to have to transition is getting my feet back to doing things a certain way and getting back to a running back mentality.”
Q: So what’s with the dress shirt and tie?
A: “I’m working in the compliance office.”
Q: What has that experience been like?
A: “It’s a big learning experience. There’s a lot that we take for granted. We don’t know how much planning and preparation goes into the whole traveling and making sure everybody follows the rules of preparation. There’s a lot behind the scenes that I’m learning about it.”
Q: You’re now the senior-most tailback on the roster. Do you feel like you need take on a leadership role with all the young guys back there?
A: “I feel like being the one there with the most experience is really going to help them and show them how things are done. I’ll show them that you may have the opportunity to slack but you have to take it serious. You can’t slack off on the field or in the classroom. So being there hopefully I can be some kind of role model. Hopefully, they’ll see, ‘OK, Richard does it this way. He works hard; he studies hard and it shows on the field and in his academics.’ Hopefully, I’ll be like a guide or someone they can look to instead of doing it on their own and making wrong decisions sometimes.”
Q: Is it still hard to believe you’re in this situation considering Washaun Ealey and Caleb King were here in the spring?
A: “Yeah, I feel like the whole thing, how it happened, is crazy. They were there; they were the main ones playing. So I said, ‘OK, running backs seem solidified.’ Now that they’re gone I feel like I can help the team and this will help benefit the team. It was the best decision for the team.”
Q: Has it been frustrating to always seem to be in catch-up mode at a position?
A: “Yes, I feel like it has. Some guys come in and play one position the whole time while they’re here. I’m transitioning and having to learn some things from scratch and having to pick up on some things that some others are already two or three years used to doing. It’s tough to feel like I have to put in extra work to learn what to do and also put more work in on the field to show I’m the person to get the job done.”
Q: How many position coaches have you played for now?
A: Let’s see: Ball, McClendon, Coach Grantham, Coach Olivadotti, Coach Belin. Five I think.”