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Post Coming soon: the four-headed monster

Wednesday January 30, 2008

Consider this thought: Knowshon Moreno might be the lowest-rated recruit among the Georgia running backs on the 2009 team.

It’s not like Moreno was an afterthought as a recruit. He was a heavyweight prospect considering Georgia and Florida. He was rated the #10 back in the nation in the 2006 signing class. That’s pretty damn good, and at this early stage it’s possible to argue that he has outperformed most on the list ahead of him.

The Dawgs lose two solid seniors from the 2007 team, Thomas Brown and Kregg Lumpkin, but let’s look at who’s joining the team over the next two seasons:

  • Caleb King, RFr. Injuries to Brown and Lumpkin moved King up on the depth chart for the Florida game, but he was able to preserve the redshirt season. King was rated the #8 back in the 2007 class.
  • Richard Samuel, Fr. Because of his versatility (tailback or linebacker), Samuel is ranked the #2 "athlete" nationally in the current recruiting class. He will start out at tailback and is already on campus.
  • Washaun Ealey, class of 2009. The Emanuel County star was named the state of Georgia’s player of the year as a junior. He committed to Georgia earlier this week and will likely be rated among the top 5 players in Georgia for his recruiting class at any position.

On paper, it looks like the most impressive set of backs at Georgia since at least the mid ’80s. When you think about the state of the tailback position in 2003 or around the turn of the decade, the upgrade in talent is tremendous.

But recruiting rankings and hype only go so far of course. Brown and Lumpkin were just as heralded coming out of high school: Brown was the #4 tailback in the nation as a high school senior in 2004, and Lumpkin was the #2 back in the nation in the 2003 class. Their careers were full of plenty of positive moments, but injuries plagued both Brown and Lumpkin, and neither was able to separate from the other (or Danny Ware, for that matter). Moreno as a redshirt freshman was able to get the lion’s share of carries over the two seniors from the beginning of the 2007 season.

There are also the implied questions of playing time and rotation. The Georgia offense has struggled over the past few seasons with getting the right back on the field when injury didn’t make the decision for us. It should be pointed out though that some of the better tailbacks in college football lately have split time. Reggie Bush had LenDale White, and Darren McFadden had Felix Jones. LSU won a title in 2008 with a mix of three backs.

It’s entirely likely and reasonable that two or more of these Georgia backs will share carries, but it will be up to the staff to make sure that the right guy is on the field in the right situation. The abundance of talent also opens up the opportunity for creativity. Whether that means two-back sets or increased use of backs in the passing game, spread formations, or direct snaps, the offensive coaching staff shouldn’t be limited by the talent with which they have to work.

UPDATE: There have been some great comments so far. I do agree that many project Samuel to play defense, but we’re going with the news that he will at least be given the token opportunity to start his career at tailback. But as Tommy pointed out, I’m mistaken not to include mention of Dontavius Jackson, Rivals’ #8 running back, who also is already on campus. If Jackson lives up to his billing, that might accelerate Samuels’ move to defense. To be complete, there’s also Carlton Thomas from Florida who will have quite a career as a utility player – think a better Tyson Browning.

5 Responses to 'Coming soon: the four-headed monster'

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  • Don’t forget Dontavious Jackson. Lotta horses coming in.

  • Is it a forgone conclusion that Samuel will start at tailback?
    For some reason I thought I read that he will get a shot, but its pretty much preferred that he will be used on defense.
    Thanks for sharing any info you have – great post as always!

  • you heard it here first…..watching Richard Samuel on film, he runs upright in a McFadden / Adrian Peterson fashion without McFadden’s speed or Peterson’s moves. He seems to enjoy defense and although alot of talk has him playing OLB, he looks alot like Greg Blue (with more speed). Looking at the depth chart (which is stacked at OLB) my guess is that he ends up at safety.

    True freshman RB Carlton Thomas has the best chance to get reps if he can protect the ball. He has good kr/pr skills and there is a need this year. He also has good hands as a 3rd down back. He may not see time there because of his size.

    2009….I saw Washaun Ealey play 3 games this year. In the 1A GHSA championship game, I sat by the FVSU head coach who was scouting 6 players at that game. Plus, there were 5 more who were D1 recruits that he had no chance to get. He couldn’t stop talkin about Ealey all nite. Don’t let the 1A fool ya, Ealey is a beast.

  • Can I say 09′ National Champs????

  • As I began to think about our future at running back it just solidifys our place as ” running back U ” in the SEC. As a fan of the dawgs it gives me no greater pleasure to reclaim that spot, (As if we ever lost it) from Auburn. I can not express the galvanized pure hate that I have for them. As for there recruiting interest in GODS COUNTRY, consider it petty as long as Mark Richt is there.