Paul WesterDawg has taken note of how the University of Georgia's 2008 recruiting class is shaping up. In a word, this class is on track to be monstrous. After having addressed all of our basic needs in last year's beefy class, this year is all about going out and procuring the best talent available.
One piece of that puzzle which is already in place is RB/LB Richard Samuel out of Cass High School in Cartersville, Georgia. Samuel was verified by the folks at the April 2006 Nike Camp in Athens as being 6'0, 197 pounds. He ran a blistering 4.47 4o yard dash, a 4.19 shuttle, and recorded a 33 inch vertical leap (By the way, for comparison I highly recommend trying to jump 2 feet, 9 inches into the air from a standing start. Just don't hurt yourself.) Samuels completed his junior season with 1342 yards on 164 carries (8.2 yards a touch) and 19 touchdowns. Perhaps most impressive is his reported 3.87 GPA and apparent affinity for gospel music.
While Samuel's "measurables" are impressive, it's the immeasurables that prompted Rivals to name him a 1st Team Junior All-American. You can see why in a set of free videos from Rivals**. The videos spotlight Samuel as a tailback, though the Georgia coaches may try him at linebacker.
Pros: Samuel is a smooth, instinctive runner, getting to the holes at the right time. He's not afraid to cut it inside if that's where the space is. A lot of high school backs with Samuel's speed get it in their heads that they have to break to the sideline to get in the endzone. While it's true that you can manage the oncoming tacklers better when they're only coming from one side, the shortest distance between two points is still (at least when I last checked) a straight line. Samuel has the straightline speed to outrun people, and he uses it in this video (witness the 2 defensive backs he simply splits on the way to the endzone at the :20 mark of the first video). As befits a big back, Samuel doesn't go down to arm tackles, and is not afraid to run over somebody.
Cons: Samuel does run a little too upright for my tastes, which is not surprising for a taller tailback. That's really about it. I would like to see more of him on defense, but for the moment I'm assumng that his pure athleticism and smooth footwork translate well to the linebacker position.
Upshot: Oh yeah, did I mention that Richard Samuel just turned 16 two months ago? He's likely to only get bigger and stronger, potentially ending up as a 230 pound impaler in the Odell Thurman mold. Samuel fits the mold of an exceptional athlete whom coaches get on campus first, then place in a position later. He could really excel on either offense or defense (and would likely be a heat-seeking missile on kick coverage, by the way). All in all, he's the type of athlete that Georgia needs to keep in state. I'm especially glad that he's Athens-bound given that he's from a part of the state which has long been home to marauding, cheeto-orange hillbillies from the Phil Fulmer School of Criminal Justice.
Tune in tomorrow when I'll be taking a look at another in-state athlete who may be playing a new position at UGA. Until then . . .
Go Dawgs! **This is in no way an endorsement of the Rivals recruiting network. I do however think it's great that they're allowing people to view some of their scads of video highlights for free to see what comes with a subscription. In the words of Austin Powers: Yay capitalism!