ATHENS — Rumors have abounded in recent weeks that Georgia quarterback Logan Gray would be moving to wide receiver, transferring or doing a number of other things.
Wednesday, however, Gray said he’s not going anywhere.
“The coaches never even really confronted me about the whole issue,” Gray said. “It was interesting that all this whirlwind talk started brewing up, because it seemed like to me that (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo) was planning on me playing quarterback the whole time, back through the spring.”
All this talk began for several reasons:
n Two young quarterbacks in Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger, now sophomores, are waiting for their shot. Many message boards already have all but named Murray, not fourth-year junior Gray, as the starter.
n Gray was ineffective in his appearances in relief of Joe Cox last season, albeit usually brief ones and in tough situations.
n Gray’s mobility, speed and elusiveness, which were attempted to be displayed on select punt returns in 2009, make him a natural fit elsewhere.
But Gray said Wednesday that he’s still aiming for the Georgia quarterback role. He said it’s still an open competition, and he’s still in it.
“I thought about it some,” Gray said. “I think ultimately I just want to try to do what’s best for me and what’s best for our team, and helping out the team. I’ve thought about it, and nothing’s really changed, dating back to any time really. I’m planning on playing quarterback. If it doesn’t work, I’m not opposed to playing receiver, trying to play defense or whatever it may be. Ultimately I just want to try and help the team win, contribute.”
With a three-player race heading into spring practice, the quarterbacks aren’t sure exactly what the deciding factor will be between them.
“I think it’s pretty much whoever just does the best that’s going to be the starter, really,” Murray said. “(Head coach Mark Richt) hasn’t said, ‘If you throw this many touchdowns or this many picks you’re not going to be the starter.’ ”
Added Gray, “I’ve just been trying to work hard this offseason and do what I can to get better. Just get stronger, get faster and make sure there’s no way they can keep me off the field, even if it’s not quarterback. So we’ll see.”
Samuel more comfortable
After plenty of speculation, Richard Samuel made his transition from tailback to linebacker official earlier this month. On Wednesday, the former two-way high school star from Cartersville spoke with the media for the first time since the move.
“I missed it a lot,” Samuel said of playing defense. “Just the whole being able to play free instead of worrying about certain fundamentals. And the whole enjoyment of tackling and all that. I missed it a lot.”
Samuel was Georgia’s starting tailback in its season opener against Oklahoma State last year. But Caleb King got healthy, freshman Washaun Ealey burst onto the scene, and the Bulldogs’ ground game began to flourish. While all that happened, Samuel’s carries dwindled.
“I didn’t have tremendous playing time (at tailback),” Samuel said. “I didn’t get very many snaps. Plus how well the backs were doing last year, my future wasn’t looking too good at running back.”
But, he said, it wasn’t a move necessitated by lack of success running the ball or one coaches approached him with. It was a comfort thing, and it was blocking that he just couldn’t get a handle on.
“I felt uncomfortable because, all throughout high school, most of the backs didn’t have to block a whole lot,” Samuel said. “That was something I had to come in and learn, and the fundamental steps, for some reason I couldn’t get it down right.”
Samuel, who already has put on about 10 pounds since last season, said he isn’t sure yet whether he will be on the inside or outside of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s new 3-4 scheme. He did, however, say he planned to be a starter come the fall. His transition should be eased because, well, in a way, all the linebackers are transitioning.
“I feel like it’s a good advantage,” Samuel said. “We’re all back to ground zero, nobody knows the playbook, nobody knows the scheme. Everybody’s at zero again.”
To say Marlon Brown’s freshman season was disappointing would be a gross understatement.
One of the nation’s most highly touted receivers coming out of high school rarely saw the field in 2009 and looked lost at times when he did. With Georgia being snubbed by a few big-name wide receiver prospects on National Signing Day, even more pressure will be put on him to perform come August.
But he’s ready for it.
“I’m real hungry. Really hungry,” Brown said. “I’m in the weight room, just sitting there lifting weights thinking about playing next season. I’m in the film room damn near every day just trying to get everything played out in my mind. Learning defenses, learning coverages, learning routes, all of that.”
Brown didn’t have a reception until the Bulldogs’ game against Tennessee last year, while fellow youngsters Rantavious Wooten, Tavarres King and Orson Charles excelled in the passing game. Brown finished the season with two catches for 15 yards, both against the Vols.
“I like playing football, that’s why I came here,” Brown said. “I was kind of upset after a while (in 2009). It was a setback, but it was like, my time will come. I just started grinding. It’s just gaining the confidence in Coach Bobo and (receivers coach Tony Ball), that when I’m out there they’re like, ‘Oh, OK, he’s Marlon, he knows what to do on this play, he knows what to do on that play.’ ”