THE TEN AT 10:
1. There will be white-hot focus on tailbacks Isaiah Crowell and Keith Marshall when Georgia opens its spring football camp later this afternoon. But senior Richard Samuel made it clear he doesn’t plan on shrinking away in the background.
Asked if he felt like those other two are commanding all the attention heading into spring ball, Samuel said: “I feel like they do, but it doesn’t bother me. I feel like my work ethic and what I do on the practice field will carry over to the game field and show that I’m still there.”
Samuel (6-foot-2, 235 pounds) said he considers himself a leader among the running backs and plans on conducting himself that way.
“I feel like I’ll be able to show them what kind of practice and what kind of effort needs to go into preparation every day in order to get better,” he said. “I’m going to try to be more vocal. I’m going into my fifth season and I’ve seen many guys who have some and gone. I’ve seen the leaders and what it takes and how a guy’s supposed to approach practice and off the field and on the field. So I can step into the role and say, ‘OK, this is how it needs to be done.’ I’ve seen it done so I believe I can help guide the young guys to learn how things should be done here.”
The last we saw of Samuel, he was limping off the field at the end of the Bulldogs’ 33-30 loss to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl having netted zero yards on nine carries. Samuel had to have two ankle surgeries after rushing for 58 yards in the fourth quarter and scoring the winning touchdown against Florida last October. He really had no business playing after that but was determined to help his team during a time of great need.
“It was real tough,” Samuel said. “I was supposed to come back for the SEC championship game but I had to go back in and have some more surgery done. So that set it back. It was real tough then to get ready for the bowl game. I wasn’t fully 100 percent , but knowing that I really wanted to contribute somehow, I had to push through it.”
Samuel, who says he’s now 100 percent healthy, may also get some looks at fullback this spring.
2. Speaking of spring ball, in case you missed, I wrote a piece on the Five Things Georgia Must Address During Spring Practice for this past Sunday’s paper. Also, earlier Tuesday morning, I offered this Q&A with Quarterback Aaron Murray. It was my intention to provide you some more football coverage over the weekend and Monday, but my laptop was fried out by a virus and I had to get it fixed. But barring more cyber attacks, I’ll be bring you mucho daily coverage as spring ball commences in earnest at 4:05 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. The Bulldogs are holding 14 practices between now and the G-Day Game on April 14 (3 p.m.).
3. It doesn’t look like it’s going to affect his availability for the Georgia game in September, but Missouri’s starting quarterback James Franklin sprained his right (throwing) shoulder last week and will undergo surgery on Friday, according to the Kansas City Star. Franklin, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior, passed for 2,865 yards and 21 touchdowns and ran for 981 yards and 15 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore last season. In other words, he’s very, very good.
4. You may have seen the story last week where Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity said a statue honoring Herschel Walker was not a high priority for UGA at this time. A quick update: You can still vote in our poll to share your feelings on a Herschel statue. As of Tuesday morning, 1,186 people have voted on it. Of those, 49 percent a statue should be erected “without delay;” 21 percent said yes but only if other fellow Heisman recipient Frank Sinkwich was also honored; 18 percent say the less statues the better; and 12 percent want statues for several football heroes. Meanwhile, membership on the Herschel Walker Statue Project Facebook page continues to grow. It was up to 2,144 this morning.
5. Speaking of great Bulldogs, UGA legendary halfback Charley Trippi will be feted on April 13 with “Charley Trippi Day.” The day before Georgia’s annual G-Day Game, a luncheon will be held in Trippi’s honor at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. Trippi will receive commendations from Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Athens Mayor Nancy Denson. Dignitaries expected to attend include Arizona Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill, Maxwell Club executive director Mark Wolpert, UGA president Dr. Michael Adams, representatives of the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, and former Bulldog coach Vince Dooley. Former Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin will also be honored at the luncheon as the first recipient of the Charley Trippi Most Versatile Player award.
Trippi, MVP of the 1943 Rose Bowl and winner of the 1946 Maxwell Award, is still regarded by many as the greatest all-around athlete ever to play at Georgia. The Pittston, Pa., native, led the 1946 Bulldogs to an 11-0 record, the SEC championship and a win over North Carolina in the Sugar Bowl, and he was runner-up to Army’s Glenn Davis for the 1946 Heisman Trophy.
6. I’m not much for tracking the spring break exploits of college athletes, but the story of Watts Dantzler’s return to Athens from Panama City Beach via Greyhound — first shared via a succession of live tweets on his Twitter account @wattsdantzler — was just too funny to ignore. Dantzler eventually recounted the story in his own words on his Wordpress blog. The kid is hilarious, and quite the storyteller.
7. What is shaping up as another great year for the rivalry between Georgia and Georgia Tech in baseball renews again Tuesday night at UGA’s Foley Field (7 p.m., CSS-TV). The No. 18-ranked Bulldogs (15-6, 2-1 SEC) are coming off a weekend in which they took two of three from Tennessee in the SEC opener. The No. 15 Yellow Jackets (14-6) are off to a 3-3 start in the ACC. Freshman right-hander David Sosebee (1-0, 1.08 ERA) is scheduled to get the start for Georgia, which leads the series 111-95 since records were first kept in 1950. Junior third baseman Curt Powell leads the Bulldogs with a .368 batting average.
8. Georgia’s women’s basketball team finished the season with a splat. After finishing third in the SEC and gaining a first-round bye in the SEC tournament, the Lady Bulldogs lost their last two contests, including a 76-70 loss to 13th-seeded Marist in the opening round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday. That has given cause to some of the annual grumbling about coach Andy Landers and accusations that the program has plateaued under his leadership. I don’t know about all that but, the fact is, this was a young Georgia team that loses only senior Meredith Mitchell and gains five signees, including four that are 4-star recruits according to ESPN: Shacobia Barbee, Marjorie Butler, Caelyn Causwell, Tiaria Griffin and Merritt Hempe.
9. Georgia Bulldog John Isner is now among the Top 10 tennis players in the world. So says the latest ATP rankings after the UGA grad knocked off No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Calif., this past weekend. Isner eventually fell to No. 3-ranked Roger Federer 7-6 (9-7) , 6-3 on Sunday. But his new No. 10 ranking makes him the first player since 1986 to attain a Top 10 professional ranking after playing four years at the college level. The last to do so? Fellow Bulldog Mikael Pernfors.
10. THIS & THAT: Congratulations to the Georgia women’s swim team for finishing second at the NCAA Championships this past weekend in Auburn, Ala. It may seem like a disappointment for the Bulldogs to have come up short, but actually what they did was quite an accomplishment, especially considering this season they were competing without arguably their best athlete. Allison Schmitt redshirted this season to train for the 2012 Olympic Games. “Second is second, but it’s not a gut-wrenching second,” Georgia coach Jack Bauerle said of finishing behind Cal. “At the beginning of the year, I thought we were about the seventh- or eighth-best team out there. But we kept plugging away and getting better. I’m proud of the way we handled this meet. We got off to a rough start, but we never gave up. This team really grew up at this meet.” . . . The Gym Dogs enter this weekend’s SEC Gymnastics Championships at the Gwinnett Arena ranked No. 5 in the nation. Florida is ranked No. 1. . . . The No. 3 men’s tennis team plays host to No. 2 Ohio State on Wednesday.