Groggy but Focused

ATHENS – Bryan McClendon, Georgia's new running backs coach, went to visit freshman Richard Samuel in the hospital just moments after the tailback came out of surgery to repair an injured risk.

Samuel was still a little groggy, but his focus was already on the football field.

"The first thing he said was, ‘Coach, I want to go work out,'" McClendon said.

It was hard for McClendon to fault his player for the motivation, but the recovery process won't move quite that fast for Samuel, who, along with Caleb King, was considered the top contender to replace Knowshon Moreno in Georgia's backfield.

"I was like, ‘You might want to chill out just for a little while,'" McClendon said. "That's just how he is. I know he's going to work hard and do what he has to do to get back as soon as he can and join this competition full swing."

Samuel's injury will keep him out of spring practice, however, and that's likely to hurt his chances at landing the job of primary ball carrier.

The injury happened in Georgia's bowl game against Michigan State, but Samuel had hoped to avoid surgery. After a few weeks of rehab, however, it became obvious that the surgery would be a necessity.

"It was a bummer," McClendon said. "He was really bummed out about it. Richard is one of those guys that he loves to work, he loves to practice, he loves to be around the guys."

Before the injury, Samuel was on pace to break the school power clean record in the weight room and was working to turn all he had learned in the film room in 2008 into on-field production this spring.

Now he'll be relegated to off-field activities, but fellow tailback Carlton Thomas said Samuel is handling it well.

"He's in the weight room all the time, working out with the guys," Thomas said. "He's still the same old Richard, still working, still getting better. Hopefully when everything gets right, he'll be back in the grind."

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