Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/27/12

Mark Richt is often criticized because of what sometimes seems like a lack of emotion on the sideline.  Last season there were even UGA fans calling for his job because the Dawgs started out with an embarrassing 0-3 record. 

However, during UGA’s opening SEC game of 2012 he was anything but emotionless.  Watching the game live at a local bar in East Point, GA, I was happy to see one of Richt's (now signature) bear hugs with Richard Samuel as he ran off the field after what now is one of the first shining moments in the exciting 4-0 campaign UGA has been on this season. 

Richard Samuel graduated in Cartersville, GA in December of 2007 as a 5 star athlete at 6’0” tall and 197 lbs.  What many people did not know about him is that he had above a 3.8 GPA and graduated high school early.  He came into a UGA program that was saying goodbye to Knowshon Moreno who would be selected 12th overall by the Denver Broncos. 

As a 5 star recruit he was expected to come in and compete for a starting job right away and maybe continue the tradition at “Tailback U.” Though that never happened he was still able to rush for 133 yards his freshman year and 395 yards as a sophomore including a 104 yard game against Arkansas.

During his time at Georgia he also received 2 Honor Roll related awards as he not only contributed as much as possible on the field, but he also took care of business in the classroom.  After red shirting in 2010, Samuel was asked to move to linebacker because UGA was expecting the arrival of the nations #1 running back Isaiah Crowell and could use some help on defense. 

With a crowded group of running backs and a need for him because of his size and skills Samuel quietly did what was best for the team and helped out when necessary wherever he was needed.  As a frequent reader of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, who covers UGA year round, not once did I see a complaint or negative quote from Samuel.  He was even open to be a part time full back when needed because of team need.  Once again Samuel moved positions and did what was best for the team.  

There were very limited news paper articles surfacing about him and even fewer mentioning his unique commitment to doing whatever the team needed.  He just continued to work hard make the most of his present situation, doing any dirty work anyone could ask of him.

On the big stage of a nationally televised game with Georgia struggling in all , Samuel made a play that could arguably credit him with what may have been the biggest play of the game that turned the momentum in UGA’s direction that Saturday night. 

What was more spectacular to me is that Samuel, at that moment, defined what so many 4 and 5 star athletes have lost sight of in college football lately.  Then like clockwork he went on about his business to prove that there is no I in TEAM and continued to working in a minor role to help his team get to the next level. 

There may not be an NFL contract waiting for him when this season is over, but this young man is the definition of a student athlete.  He has taken advantage of the opportunity to receive a free education and while doing so has done everything asked of him on this team. 

With the release of running backs Caleb King, Isaiah Crowell, and Carlton Thomas and the suspension of so many other UGA players, this young man has still kept his head on straight even though he never got his big break to shine as a SEC running back. 

There seems to be more team first players following his example including previous SEC and national “Freshman Player of the Week” running back Todd Gurley and freshman running back Keith Marshall.  They were two of the top running backs in the country coming into UGA and have found a way to compliment each other instead of the usual selfish attitude of many highly rated recruits who have played between the hedges in the last couple years. 

So with UGA on the brink of becoming a relevant national powerhouse again, if they bring in more players like Richard Samuel, it’s only a matter of time before they will be mentioned in the race for the national title every single year!  I tip my hat out of respect to one Richard Samuel for all his sacrifices for the betterment of the UGA program.

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