ATHENS -- Richard Samuel does not speak in long paragraphs. He prefers short, clipped statements.
What few words he does say, however, are fairly clear: Id say disappointment. Frustrated. But its out of my power, so theres nothing I can do unless an opportunity or a chance is given to me.
Thats how the Georgia senior feels about his role on the football team. For years he has been a good citizen, publicly going along with various position switches and saying it would help him in the future.
But now as his career nears an end -- sometimes he sounds like its already over -- Samuel is being candid. To be clear, he says he is not angry at anyone. He is just upset at the situation, no longer a factor at tailback, at least in his mind, and destined to not fulfill the expectations that preceded his arrival at Georgia five years ago.
Its been bits and pieces, here and there, he said, speaking after Wednesdays practice. I dont feel like Ive done anything consistent to help the team.
Five years ago, Samuel, who was born in St. Croix but went to high school in Cartersville, was a five-star recruit. He was a Parade All-American. In his final two years of high school at Cass, he rushed for 2,771 yards and 43 touchdowns, as well as recording 160 tackles and five sacks.
Samuel enrolled early at Georgia and played right away, averaging 5.1 yards per carry as a backup to Knowshon Moreno. But the next year, while Samuel had a 104-yard game at Arkansas, he was third on the tailback depth chart.
So Samuel accepted a move to inside linebacker for the 2010 season. He chose to redshirt while learning the position, and he and another linebacker, Jarvis Jones, formed a potent one-two combination on scout-team.
But Samuel never played a snap on defense. When Georgia lost its top two tailbacks during the summer of 2011, Samuel agreed to move back to tailback. He started the opener against Boise State but was eventually passed on the depth chart by Isaiah Crowell. Samuel did score the game-winning touchdown to beat Florida but broke his foot on the play.
This year, Samuel put on weight to play fullback, while hoping to still get snaps at tailback. But three games into the season, he is out of the mix there, and Samuel said hes pretty sure he wont play tailback much there this year.
A little disappointed, he said. I was looking forward to showing why Ive improved and showing what Ive worked on. But I cant control that.
Samuel has had one big moment so far -- on special teams at Missouri. His tackle to snuff out a fake punt was a key in Georgias win and caused head coach Mark Richt to be so excited he hugged Samuel, bruising Richts face in the process.
But Richt this week acknowledged that Samuel has had some disappointment.
He certainly would like to play more, I know that for sure, Richt said. But he has been willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. We never really know what kind of a defensive player he couldve been, because of the injury the year he was gonna make the move. So yeah, hes been good for Georgia.
Besides his willingness to switch positions, Samuel is known around the program for being one of the most solid citizens on the team. Long-term, his goal is to be an athletics director. He interned in the Georgia compliance office during the summer of 2011, and this past summer, he worked at a local recreation department. He already has his degree and is working on a masters.
I cant say enough good about Richard Samuel, Richt said. I know its not been easy on him, as far as the amount of reps hes gotten to this point. But hes a very valuable part of the team, and hes one of the finest guys thats come through the program. Id take Richard every time.
Samuel was asked if his career is overall a source of frustration, or does he have some peace with the way things are ending up, graduating and being in a good place in life?
Id probably say frustration, he said.
Does he have regrets?
Not so much regrets. Just frustrated that it didnt go the way I expected or didnt go the way I would like it to go, he said.
Does he wish he had been more selfish sometimes,and demanded to stay at tailback or then on defense? No, Samuel said, each time he felt it was good to try something new.
I guess I just never really had that opportunity to set roots at a position, he said.
Samuel said he doesnt blame anybody for that. Its just the way his career has gone. He admits to wondering what might have been if he had stayed at tailback three years ago or stayed at linebacker two years ago.
But Samuel hasnt given up on a football future. When the season ends, he will try to impress the pro scouts.
It doesnt hurt to try, Samuel said. Hopefully at that level, theyll be willing to (say), Give him his shot, see what he can do. So Ill just give it my best.