Georgia Bulldogs: Richard Samuel

Continuing our run-up to Georgia's spring practice, this week we'll look back at the Bulldogs' five best recruiting classes of the last decade.

Today, we'll look at No. 5: The 2008 class that produced a couple of All-Americans and perhaps the greatest wide receiver in school history.

[+] EnlargeA.J. Green
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesA.J. Green had a stellar career at Georgia.
The stars: A.J. Green seemed destined for greatness even before he became a Bulldog -- and he lived up to that advance billing as soon as he arrived on campus. In three seasons, Green accumulated 2,619 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns (totals that rank third and second, respectively, in school history) before becoming a Pro Bowl receiver with the Cincinnati Bengals. Center Ben Jones and safety Bacarri Rambo also earned All-America honors from at least one group during their careers, and cornerback/return man Brandon Boykin won the Paul Hornung Award as the nation's most versatile player as a senior in 2011.

The contributors: Several players from this class made a major impact at Georgia. In addition to the previously mentioned players, offensive lineman Cordy Glenn, kicker Blair Walsh, receiver Tavarres King, cornerback Sanders Commings and defensive linemen DeAngelo Tyson and Cornelius Washington all performed well enough to become NFL draft picks. Walsh slumped as a senior, but had two of the best seasons by a UGA place-kicker during his sophomore and junior seasons. King didn't generate the attention that Green did, but his career totals of 2,602 receiving yards and 21 touchdown catches are fourth and third in school history.

The letdowns: About half of this class failed to contribute much of anything. Running back/linebacker Richard Samuel played a minor role for most of his career although he was the No. 35 overall prospect on the ESPN 150. For a variety of reasons, several members of the class either never enrolled at Georgia (Xavier Avery, Toby Jackson), transferred (A.J. Harmon, Marcus Dowtin, Dontavius Jackson, Makiri Pugh, Nick Williams) or struggled with health issues (Bryce Ros, Jonathan Owens) that prevented them from completing their careers in Athens.

The results: The talent in this class was impressive -- 11 players from the group made it onto an NFL roster -- but there were enough flameouts that we won't rank it higher on the list. Nonetheless, many of these players helped the Bulldogs win back-to-back SEC East titles as upperclassmen after a disappointing 6-7 result in 2010. With Green, who looks like a potential Hall of Famer at this point, headlining the group, Georgia's 2008 class definitely belongs on our list.

Post-spring position review: RB

April, 16, 2013
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Editor’s note: Over the next two weeks, we’ll take a closer look at each of Georgia’s position groups at the end of spring practice. Today we examine the running backs:

J.J. Green
Radi Nabulsi/ESPNNewcomer J.J. Green, an early enrollee at UGA, turned a lot of heads this spring and could provide a nice change of pace in the backfield.
Returning players/stats: Tailback: Todd Gurley, So. (12 starts in 2012, 222 carries, 1,385 yards, 17 TDs); Keith Marshall, So. (One start, 117-759, 8 TDs), Brandon Harton, Jr. (8-20). Fullback: Merritt Hall, So. (6 starts, 2-10); Quayvon Hicks, So. (no carries)

Newcomers: J.J. Green, Fr. (ESPN’s No. 58 CB in 2013 class. Enrolled in January); A.J. Turman, Fr. (No. 22 RB. Expected to enroll this summer); Brendan Douglas, Fr. (No. 4 FB. Expected to enroll this summer)

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NFL hopes still alive for Richt's son 

April, 3, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- When Jon Richt transferred in 2009 from Clemson to play quarterback at tiny Mars Hill (N.C.) College, he figured that eliminated any possibility of someday becoming a professional football player.

“When I left there, I was just looking to have a good, fun college career and be able to play,” said Richt, who redshirted as a freshman in 2008 at Clemson before opting to spend his next four seasons at the NCAA Division II Baptist college.

UGA pro day notes: Chasing history 

March, 21, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- After 17 of his former players worked out in front of representatives from all 32 NFL teams on Thursday, Georgia coach Mark Richt expressed his opinion that this crop of ex-Bulldogs might set a new program record for the most players picked in one draft.

“I thought they looked great,” Richt said. “I don’t know what kind of times guys ran and all that kind of thing, but if you just look at their body types, how hard they’ve worked and just watched them do the drillwork and how smooth they looked, you could tell there’s going to be a bunch of Bulldogs out of this class make it in the league, and we’re excited about that for them.”

[+] EnlargeMark Richt
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesMark Richt expects at least eight Bulldogs to be drafted off of Georgia's SEC East-winning roster.
Richt’s 2002 draft class holds the program record with eight selections, but it’s highly possible the Bulldogs will have at least that many players selected in next month’s draft. Six players -- linebackers Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones, defensive lineman John Jenkins, safeties Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo and receiver Tavarres King -- all rank among ESPN Scouts Inc.’s top 115 prospects. Others like defensive lineman Kwame Geathers, defensive back Sanders Commings and defensive end Cornelius Washington all stand a good chance of getting drafted, as well, with an additional group of Bulldogs hoping to crack the draft’s later rounds or make a squad as an undrafted free agent.

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Top Georgia recruit misses 

January, 22, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- The feel-good stories in recruiting are the two-star prospects who go on to earn all-conference honors and work their way into the NFL, but there is obviously a flipside to that coin, as well. Every signing class features players who arrive at college as well-regarded prospects who don’t pan out for any assortment of reasons.

Let’s examine five Georgia players since 2006 who were heavily hyped, but for whatever reason did not manage to perform up to the expectations that accompanied their signing with the Bulldogs.


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By the numbers: UGA classes since 2006 

January, 18, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Here’s a breakdown of Georgia’s last seven recruiting classes and what they managed to accomplish in college and beyond:

2006
ESPN top five classes: Florida, USC, Texas, Georgia, Notre Dame
Georgia’s ranking: 4

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Dawgs Snapshot 2013: A.J. Turman 

January, 17, 2013
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To gear up for 2013 national signing day, DawgNation's Radi Nabulsi is breaking down every commitment in the Bulldogs' 2013 recruiting class.

Vitals: Running back A.J. Turman, Orlando. Fla./Boone | 6-foot, 198 pounds

Committed: November 13, 2012

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Malcome's tough runs make late impact

October, 24, 2012
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Ken MalcomeDak Dillon/US PresswireKen Malcome has turned into a closer of sorts for the Bulldogs, as he's been given key fourth-quarter carries the last two games.
ATHENS, Ga. -- Ken Malcome isn’t necessarily Georgia’s closer, but he has played that role in the last two games.

Although freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have replaced Malcome atop the tailback depth chart, the sophomore received the bulk of his carries on Georgia’s final drive in both games and largely delivered positive results.

Malcome ran five times for a team-high 45 yards on the Bulldogs’ final possession in a loss against South Carolina, scoring his team’s only touchdown on a 3-yard burst with 1:55 left in the game. And last week against Kentucky, six of Malcome’s seven total carries (for a total of 19 yards) came on the Bulldogs’ final drive, when they needed to burn time off the clock while clinging to a 29-24 lead.

“Usually at that time of the game, he’s usually a little bit fresher than the other two and he is a very good downhill runner,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “As you observe him, he’s usually always getting yards after contact and even when nothing’s there, he seems to be pushing the pile and finishing runs and he’s done a good job of securing the football. Those are things that you want at that time of the game.”

That’s the role Richard Samuel played on the Bulldogs’ game-winning drive last season against Florida -- Georgia’s opponent on Saturday -- but Richt does not predict Samuel taking carries away from Malcome or one of the freshmen in Saturday’s rematch.

“At the tailback position, I don’t know,” Richt said. “We’ve got our rotation right now and I doubt it would change much, although Richard’s always ready to play at the tailback or the fullback for that matter.”

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UGA midseason report card: Special teams 

October, 14, 2012
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Editor’s note: Georgia’s football season is halfway over and the Bulldogs will take this weekend off before resuming SEC play next Saturday at Kentucky. We’ll take a look at a different position group each day this week and evaluate how it performed in the first half of the season in our DawgNation midseason report cards.

ATHENS, Ga. -- A year after special teams play was a glaring weakness for Georgia, it was more of a mixed bag for the Bulldogs in the first half of this season.

Todd Gurley returned Georgia's first kickoff of the season for a 100-yard touchdown against Buffalo, but South Carolina’s Ace Sanders returned a punt for a touchdown last week that all but eliminated Georgia’s chances for victory.

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UGA midseason report card: RBs 

October, 9, 2012
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Editor’s note: Georgia’s football season is halfway over and the Bulldogs will take this weekend off before resuming SEC play next Saturday at Kentucky. We’ll take a look at a different position group each day this week and evaluate how it performed in the first half of the season in our DawgNation midseason report cards.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Perhaps the biggest feel-good story in Georgia’s first six games was the performance by the Bulldogs’ new 1-2 punch at tailback from freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.

Even after a disappointing night for Georgia’s offense last Saturday against South Carolina, Gurley (81 carries for 575 yards, nine TDs) and Marshall (64-465, 5 TDs) still sit fourth and 10th, respectively, among the SEC’s rushing leaders. Considering that the position was one of Georgia’s greatest uncertainties last season and one of its biggest question marks entering the fall, that’s a heck of a place to be.

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Barking Dawgs: UGA quotes of the week 

October, 5, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- As the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs (5-0, 3-0 SEC) prepare for a key SEC East game at No. 6 South Carolina (5-0, 3-0) on Saturday, here is a selection of quotes from the Bulldogs’ coaches and players from throughout the week:

“We just try to come out there and play our game. We’re not trying to be like nobody else. But it’s a cool thing.” -- Tailback Todd Gurley, on the nickname ‘Gurshall’ that Georgia fans have bestowed on Gurley and freshman backfield mate Keith Marshall, a reference to legendary Bulldogs running back Herschel Walker

“Keith does a great job of pressing the hole on the zone plays and then his cuts are not two or three steps. They’re one-step cuts and he’s going vertical. Sometimes he’s moving so fast I feel like he’s almost going to fall down. It’s hard for a defender to stop when he’s pressing and his step is so fast and so vertical, I think that’s what makes him so dangerous.” -- Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, on Marshall, who broke touchdown runs of 75 and 72 yards last week against Tennessee

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Notebook: Bennett proving he belongs

September, 18, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Michael Bennett knows there is something that separates him from other players at his position. He jokes about it all the time.

The Georgia sophomore realizes that as a Caucasian wide receiver at a big-time college football program, he is like a living, breathing four-leaf clover -- extremely rare -- but he has also been a good-luck charm for the Bulldogs thus far.

Bennett leads the Bulldogs with 265 receiving yards and, among the SEC’s top 15 players in receiving yards per game -- he ranks fifth with 88.3 -- he is the only one who is not African-American.

“I’ve proved myself throughout my whole life, being a white guy playing a black man’s position. It’s just the nature of how it is,” Bennett said with a grin. “It’s not racist or anything, it’s just the way it is. I feel like I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder in high school and then coming here. No one’s really respected me. I remember going in 1-on-1s and no one wanted to go against me because they didn’t want to get burned by a white guy.”

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Barking Dawgs: UGA quotes of the week 

September, 14, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- As the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs (2-0) prepare for their Week 3 matchup against Florida Atlantic (1-1) on Saturday, here is a selection of quotes from the Bulldogs coaches and players from throughout the week:

“He does deflect any kind of personal glory to the team. I think he’s very sincere. Some guys say it because they think that’s what people want to hear, but Jarvis is sincere about it just like A.J. [Green] was. They are humble guys. They like football and they like their teammates, they like their coaches and they like Georgia. More than anything, they just enjoy playing the game.” -- Georgia coach Mark Richt, on All-America linebacker Jarvis Jones’ humble nature

“I knew when they walked everyone up, it was either if I didn’t get my block or if T.K. dropped the ball, those were the only two things that would’ve stopped that play. They brought the house on that one and I knew, ‘Get your tail out there and go get that guy.’ I did and it was definitely a big play for me and definitely a big play that swung the game.” -- Center David Andrews, on his key second-quarter block that helped spring receiver Tavarres King for a long gain, setting up a touchdown in last week’s win against Missouri

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Notebook: Jarvis Jones for Heisman?

September, 11, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia’s administration hasn’t decided whether to mount a full-fledged campaign to promote outside linebacker Jarvis Jones for the Heisman Trophy, but if Jones keeps performing like he did in last Saturday’s win against Missouri, he might not need much help.

“It is a little early,” admitted Georgia’s longtime sports information director Claude Felton. “A lot of times your ‘campaign’ sometimes can almost be conducted by someone other than the school. ESPN GameDay, Fox or CBS studio shows -- I think those types of things have significant impact, what those people’s opinions are who are on TV every week.

“I don’t know if they’ve started it yet, but pretty soon they’re going to start where every week it’s ‘Who’s in the Heisman race?’ So I think those kinds of things can be just as significant as anything the school might do.”

And the highlights don’t lie. Jones has won multiple SEC and national weekly awards after leading Georgia to a 41-20 win against Missouri with nine tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception and five quarterback pressures.

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Upon Further Review: UGA 41, Missouri 20 

September, 10, 2012
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Jarvis Jones AP Photo/Paul AbellJarvis Jones was all over the field for Georgia in its victory over Missouri, disrupting the Tigers' offense at every turn.
Some notes and observations after rewatching the TV broadcast of Georgia's 41-20 win at Missouri on Saturday night:

• Mark Richt said after the game that the play of the night might have been when Richard Samuel sniffed out a fake punt in the fourth quarter. After rewatching the game, I’m conviced Richt was correct -- despite the enormous plays Jarvis Jones made after Samuel's big stop.

I couldn’t believe they tried the play at the time and I’m still mystified by the decision. My best guess is that Missouri coach Gary Pinkel was feeling a bit desperate because his defense was having so much trouble slowing down a Georgia offense that had scored touchdowns on three of the previous four possessions. But Missouri was still fully in the game, moving the ball well overall and didn’t need to take such a big risk. The Tigers were down only 24-20 at the time.

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