Samuel No Sure Thing

ATHENS – Decisions are still a long way off, and the progress hasn't been disappointing, head coach Mark Richt said.

But Richard Samuel, the newly converted inside linebacker, still isn't guaranteed to see the field in 2010.

"He's new to the position and we want him to be ready to really compete for us," Richt said. "If we think he's ready to do that and produce at a high level, then we want him to play. But if he's still finding his way a little bit, I don't think we'll be in a big rush to get him out there."

Samuel, who entered Georgia in the spring of 2008 as a 16-year-old running back, played as a true freshman, and thus still has a redshirt year available should coaches choose to let him learn a new position from the sidelines this season.

While Samuel earned the starting tailback job out of fall camp last year, his role diminished significantly down the stretch and it was announced he'd switch to defense for 2010 – a role he played in high school. He opened the spring at outside linebacker, but was moved to the interior early on, and his play in last Saturday's scrimmage gave Richt some cause for optimism.

"I can envision one play where he took on a fullback on an isolation block and played off the block to make the tackle right there in the hole," Richt said. "He looked like a linebacker, and he hasn't played a lot of defense lately."

Richt said there won't be a set standard for whether or not Samuel earns playing time this fall, and he'll likely be evaluated the same way any first-year player would be. For now, Richt said, he wants Samuel to simply keep working, and the evaluation won't need to be made until the games start being played.

"The big thing is just practice hard, learn what you can," Richt said. "We have these thoughts but then sometimes by the second scrimmage in the fall, two or three guys are down ahead of you, and you're playing whether you're ready to or not."

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