When Isaiah Crowell was dismissed from the Georgia Bulldogs after being arrested on felony weapons charges, the door opened for several Bulldog running backs to earn significant playing time.
So far during fall camp, however, nobody separated from the pack.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Richt may be leaning towards taking the running back-by-committee approach.
“There’s not a lot of separation,” Richt told the newspaper. “I think they’re all going to get their opportunity to play throughout the year. Who’s going to be the starter? I don’t know. We’ll be anxious to see all of them, really.”
The battle for the top spot on the running back depth chart in Athens includes Ken Malcome, Richard Samuel, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley.
All four of those players have slightly different skills, so using them as a committee shouldn't be something that's of great concern to Bulldog fans.
Malcome only had 174 rushing yards last season, but the 6'0", 224-pounder has a good combination of size and speed. He has the ability to run between the tackles, which will certainly earn him a few carries in short-yardage and goal-line situations, even if there is one primary tailback.
Speaking of bruisers, Richard Samuel has bounced from tailback to linebacker to tailback to fullback and back to tailback. At 6'2", 242 pounds, he is quite the load. Samuel has established himself as the ultimate team player and has succeeded in whatever role the coaching staff has put him in.
Who will end the season with the most carries?
Marshall and Gurley are the wild cards.
Marshall enrolled in Athens to get a jump start on the competition. The former 5-star recruit was rated as the No. 1 all-purpose running back by 247Sports.com in last season's recruiting class. He's the home-run hitter of the bunch, but at 5'11", 216 pounds, he can take some hits. If you're taking bets on who's going to be an impact freshman in the SEC in 2012, bet on Marshall.
Gurley is no slouch either. The 6'1", 218-pounder also has a good combination of size and speed. He impressed everybody in Georgia's first scrimmage of fall camp, rushing six times for 58 yards and one touchdown.
Even if Crowell was still in the mix, his inability to stay on the field was going to dictate that some of these players get extra carries anyway. Now that he's gone, that method will just be a little more exaggerated.
Considering the talent that Georgia his stockpiled in the backfield, the Bulldogs will be fine as long as they stay healthy.