Richard Samuel graduated early from Cass High School in Cartersville, Georgia in January of 2008. He enrolled at the University of Georgia one month shy of his 17th birthday.
Samuel left Cass High as one of the greatest football players in the history of the school. Highly recruited throughout the nation, he settled on becoming a Georgia Bulldog. The Dawg nation rejoiced.
As a Cass High Colonel, Richard put up big numbers in his junior and senior season. Scout listed him as a five-star recruit, and the number No. 24 player in the country. He also earned AJC Super 11 honors and was named to the 2007 Class AAA All-State team as a linebacker (82 tackles, nine of those resulting in a loss).
As a running back Samuel rushed for over 1,400 yards and scored 24 touchdowns in his senior season.
To put it simply, Richard Samuel was "the man" at Cass High School.
In Cartersville and Bartow County, people still talk about "the play." Samuel leaps over the offensive line, blocks a field goal attempt, picks up the ball and returns it 80 yards for a touchdown. Check it out on YouTube at this link.
Two seasons have now passed since Richard Samuel first came to Georgia. Samuel was relatively quiet his freshman year. He started his sophomore year in competition for the starting running back spot vacated when Knowshon Moreno left for the NFL.
Eventually Richard would win that starting spot, and become the No. 1 running back. However, as the season progressed, Caleb King, and Washaun Ealey would emerge as the Dawgs one-two punch on the ground.
Samuel's carries were limited in the second half of the season. His final numbers for the Dawgs in 2009 are certainly respectable (88 carries for 395 yards), but obviously not what Richard had in mind.
The rumors started late last season; Richard Samuel might move to linebacker. This certainly would not surprise anyone who had seen him play in high school. Richard is strong and fast. He loves playing physical football. Linebacker seems like a great fit.
Just before spring practice started, coach Mark Richt made it official. Richard Samuel would move to linebacker for this coming season.
I recently had a chance to ask Richard a few questions about his time at Georgia and specifically about the move to linebacker. Here is what he had to say.
GeorgiaDawg: Richard, when did you first talk to the coaches about a move to linebacker?
Richard Samuel: "I first talked to them about the change right after the bowl game."
GDawg: What are your early impressions of new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham?
RSamuel: "My first impression is, that he is a very high energy guy, and he likes to have fun on the football field."
GDawg: What have you missed most about playing on the defensive side of the ball?
RSamuel: "I have really missed the physical aspect of it."
GDawg: Will you miss playing running back?
RSamuel: "Oh no, I don't really think I'll miss playing running back."
GDawg: Aside from learning the 3-4 defense... what are you finding to be the biggest challenges to moving back to defense?
RSamuel: "The biggest adjustment would be tackling again, and getting my body in the right spot."
GDawg: What player on the team has been a role model for you?
RSamuel: "The player that has been a great role model for me is, Aron White."
Richard and I started this interview back around Coach Richt's birthday. So I asked him about his head coach.
GDawg: Did you remember to wish Coach Richt a happy birthday?
RSamuel : (laughing) "Yes, I actually did remember to wish him a happy birthday."
GDawg: What do you admire most about Coach Richt?
RSamuel: "I admire his character the most, and the type of man that he is. How he is trying to mold us to be the kind of men that we should be."
I also asked Richard what the highlight of his time at Georgia has been to this point. Not surprisingly, most Dawg fans would rank this one high on their list as well...
RSamuel: "The highlight so far would have to be the 80 yard touchdown run against Arkansas."
I have talked to friends, teachers, and fans that have watched and known Richard Samuel through these past few years. They will all tell you that he is a fine young man. He is a great student, and an incredible athlete.
I believe that at the University of Georgia, the best is yet to come for Richard Samuel. There is no doubt in my mind that we will all be talking about Richard Samuel, the linebacker, in the months to come.
Best of luck Richard, and Go Dawgs!!
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