It's a new era in Georgia Bulldog football. Call it the post-Moreno era. It's an era where we are again searching for a guy who can fill the shoes of another talented running back who has now departed. Don't worry, we've done it before.
After all, Knowshon isn't the first talented running back to exit the doors of the university. You need only grace the articles of B/R to find a listing of some of the greats who have donned the red and black.
Take a look at GeorgiaDawgs "Top Ten List: All-Time Great Bulldog Running Backs" or Wes Holtzclaw's "Top Ten Tailbacks in Georgia History". Both do equally stellar jobs of detailing who has played for Georgia over the years.
The point is, we manage to recover from those losses and remain competitive. This season will be no different. We may not have another Knowshon Moreno lurking in that depth chart; I have to admit he was a special talent at Georgia for more than just his rushing ability.
However, we may yet have a guy who can do all the things we expect him to do to keep us in the hunt.
After the G-Day game, a new name seemed to emerge: Carlton Thomas. He wasn't slept on by too many of us, Matt Holcomb wrote a nice little article about him about a week prior to the G-Day game (read here).
However, he's not the guy that Georgia intended to be in the top spot. He was a sleeper at best, but now he, along with a bevy of others, seem to have a shot at becoming the next ball carrier for the University of Georgia.
So, the real question is, who are these running backs and what will they bring to the Georgia offense?
This article will focus on three of the guys we currently have on our roster. The guys profiled this time will be: Dontavius Jackson, Kalvin Daniels, and Richard Samuel.
First up: Dontavius Jackson (RSf)
5-foot-10, 190 pounds, Dontavius is a bruiser for his size. His running style is more north-south than east-west and he has no problem taking a hit. He doesn't have breakaway type speed, but once he gets going, he can be hard to take down because of his great balance and ability to move the pile.
He is also a sound pass catcher out of the backfield and was even able to garner an interception or two while playing as a defensive back in high school.
He's versatile and has first-rate field vision. He is content to wait for holes to develop before powering his way over and through them at will. Even more, he has the moves to elude defenders and above-average cutting ability.
If there is any area of weakness, it's his blocking. He will need to work on his pass protection if he expects to ever start for the Dawgs because he will need to be able to pick up that outside blitz. That is one of the key requirements of the running back in the pro-set offense; they have to be able to block effectively on passing downs.
If they can't do that, the quarterback becomes an open target and all bets are off. That is one of the reasons Caleb King found himself in the dog house last season; he displayed sub-par blocking skills and was thought to be a liability.
However, if Jackson can do that, he will be something special because he can move the chains on runs, forcing the opposing defenses to cheat up and opening the door for the wide receivers to get open for the big play.
He's one to watch as the running back competition slips into high gear this season.
There's a great video of Dontavius here. Give it a look if you have a chance.
Kalvin Daniels (Jr)
5-foot-10, 182 pounds, was a stand-out tailback for Dodge County High School in Eastman, GA. He walked on at Georgia and has played sparsely for the Bulldogs thus far.
He moved from the scout team to the varsity squad in 2007 after an injury to, then-starter, Kregg Lumpkin forced a revamping of the depth chart. In that year, he had eight carries for 44-yards. An average of 5.5 yards per carry.
He only appeared in one game last season, but was named Most Improved Running Back and Outstanding Offensive Walk-On at the send of 2008 spring practice. So, he is held in high regard by the coaching staff at Georgia despite his limited play.
It's unlikely that he will see significant time this season unless the injury bug hits the running back corp in a major way, but he is still likely to be listed as third on the depth chart simply because he has been there the longest and it is very likely that Washaun Ealey will redshirt this year.
What Daniels brings to the Bulldogs is versatility and leadership.
He can play defensive back as well as running back and could see some time on special teams in kick coverage because he is an able tackler.
He played in the G-Day game and tallied twenty yards on three carries.
Richard Samuel (So)
6-foot-0, 197 pounds, Samuel began the 2008 season as the No. 2 back, but lost his shot early to Caleb King due to fumbling issues. He still appeared in games for the Bulldogs, but was seen more on special teams than in the offensive schemes.
At season's end, he had 26 carries for 133 yards. He missed the spring due to wrist surgery, but many feel like he is going to emerge as the starter over King once he is healthy again.
Samuel is definitely a north-south kind of runner. He likes to make his moves in-between the tackles and has no problem lowering his shoulder to punish an approaching defender. He needs space and a little time to assess his running lanes, but if he has a good lead blocker, he can pick up the yards with no problem.
He doesn't look that fast on film, but he is capable of making the proper jukes and spins to free himself and get the extra one or two yards he needs to finish off a run. He is also an adept pass catcher.
He lined up at wide receiver on many occasions in high school and was effective at running routes and providing a safe target for the quarterback.
There is little question about his blocking ability, as he played both sides of the ball in high school, ringing up 116 tackles as a linebacker. So, it is unlikely that he will be a liability in pass protection.
Samuel just needs to get his ball handling under control if he wants his shot at being the starting tailback.
Samuel is the best fit for the Bulldogs in the long-term because he has the running style that is likely to wear down a defense. North-south runners are just more apt to move the chains and that is key in any offense.
Next up: Caleb King, Carlton Thomas, and Shaun Chapas. Stay tuned.
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