Samuel makes big plays when possible

Samuel makes big plays when possible

Richard Samuel's college career has been marked by position changes and big plays.

Before bringing down Missouri punter Trey Barrow on a fake punt on fourth down in the Tigers' first drive of the fourth quarter, Georgia's Richard Samuel knew what was coming.

"The first couple of punts, I noticed I could block the punt if I really gave it a good try," said Samuel, whose job when defending punts is to make sure the opposing team actually kicks the ball. "I saw the two up-backs come up and try to take me on, which they hadn't done all game. I thought ‘ok, something is up,' since they hadn't done that all game."

Samuel's instincts took over, and the senior fought off a block before tackling Barrow.

"After [the upbacks] came towards me, I saw the punter try to run my way," said Samuel. "My goal is to turn him back to the middle on a fake punt. But the punter continued to the outside, so I shed the block and made the tackle."

Though Samuel had an inkling the fake was coming, he had yet realize how significant thwarting the fake was. Following the play, the Bulldogs took possession and added a quick field goal to extend their lead, 27-20, giving Georgia the momentum to hold on for victory.

"Well, I saw Coach Richt and he was really excited," said Samuel, who shared a long hug with Richt that actually left Richt's chin bloodied. "The team was excited, and everyone was jumping up and down. I didn't really understand how significant it was until I looked at the film and saw the field position and score of the game."

Recruited as an athlete out of high school in 2009, Samuel has had a college career filled with twists and turns. He played his first two seasons on offense at tailback before moving to linebacker in the spring of 2010. He redshirted the 2010 season in order to learn his new position, but before the start of 2011, he returned to offense. Samuel played fullback in Georgia's 2012 season opener against Buffalo but did not receive a single snap at fullback against Missouri.

His first-down-saving tackle against Missouri marks his second clutch performance in as many seasons. A year ago, Samuel filled in for an injured tailback Isaiah Crowell and scored the game-winning touchdown against rival Florida. Samuel said the will to win drives him to make big plays.

"It feels good to know that I made big plays when it was needed," said Samuel, who was a consensus five-star recruit from Cartersville, Ga. "That's been my thing throughout my whole career. I want to make sure whatever I do I contribute to a victory somehow. Whether it's making a tackle or making the key block or scoring, I just want to contribute to a win somehow.

"Those key plays are just (helping) me accomplishing my goals here at Georgia."

In recognition of Samuel's performance and his team-first attitude, Georgia named him a captain for Saturday's matchup with Florida Atlantic, an honor that makes Samuel proud.

"It feels good," said Samuel. "Last time I was a captain I was injured, so it feels good to be a captain and be able to contribute in the game I'm a captain of."

Jarvis Jones, Georgia's next tight end?

Following Jarvis Jones's stellar performance against Missouri last week, the star linebacker's name has been mentioned in Heisman discussions. However, Jones knows how challenging winning the Heisman can be for a defensive player.

"It's hard for defensive players to get that award," said Jones. "Just to be up there with Heisman finalists would be a great accomplishment for me."

Jones's name was brought up in Heisman discussions after he racked up nine tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception in No. 7 Georgia's 41-20 victory over Missouri. Jones made an offensive player miss with a juke move during his interception return before being tackled just short of the goal line. The All-American still thinks he crossed the goal line.

"I was disappointed," said Jones. "I really think I was in (the end zone). I saw the clip, and I never hit the ground until I hit the end zone. I don't know what happened, but I think it was a touchdown."

Though Jones was disappointed, he isn't ready to move to offense to get that elusive touchdown.

"I can't play running back," said Jones, who was approached by Georgia tight ends coach John Lilly after his interception last week. The standout from Carver (Columbus) High School played tight end early in his high school career and was also a star basketball player.

"I got my first (scholarship) offer from Clemson my sophomore year at tight end," said Jones. "I still got a little bit in me."

Jones's interception against Missouri was the first of his collegiate career, but he has been catching passes in practices since last season.

"When (former UGA tight end) Orson (Charles) was here, I used to get on the JUGS (passing) machine after practice and catch some balls," said Jones with a smile. "I have some hands. I'm an athlete."

Quick Hits

Along with Samuel, seniors John Jenkins and Marlon Brown and junior Jarvis Jones are captains for Saturday's game…Georgia's interim mascot, Russ, will be officially announced as UGA IX during a pregame ceremony…Georgia's opponent Saturday—Florida Atlantic—will play SEC teams in back-to-back weeks, beginning with the Bulldogs. The Owls play Alabama next weekend in Tuscaloosa. Last season, FAU played two SEC schools—Auburn and Florida—and both by a combined score of 71-17…FAU enters Saturday's matchup with Georgia reeling from a 31-17 loss against Middle Tennessee State. The Owls won their first game 7-3 against Wagner College.

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