ATHENS, Ga. — Fans may be ready to call Caleb King a bust, but coach Mark Richt is actually quite pleased with the progress of his running back.
King failed to secure the starting job as Knowshon Moreno’s replacement at tailback during spring practice, but Richt said King made big strides in several key areas.
“I think a lot of people may have read between the lines that we’re not happy with what Caleb is doing,” Richt said. “That’s not true at all. I’m very pleased with his progress. He has become an outstanding pass protector, he understands the system better, and he’s an outstanding runner.”
While no starter will be named until fall practice when all five of Georgia’s running backs have had their shot to compete, Richt said King is definitely in the mix. In fact, as far as Richt is concerned, King is the frontrunner to handle the bulk of the carries this year.
“He’s still a relatively young guy in his career,” Richt said. “He’s certainly the No. 1 guy going into camp.”
King’s primary competition for the starting tailback job is Richard Samuel, but after missing the spring with a wrist injury, the sophomore hasn’t had a real opportunity to give King a run for his money.
That should change by the time fall practice starts.
“I feel like I’m getting close. I’ve started doing lifting and everything,” Samuel said. “The only lift I haven’t done is power clean, and I’m getting there.”
Samuel said he lost about eight pounds following his surgery because of his reduced workout routine, but he has gained most of that back. Samuel said the time off gave him some time to study the fundamentals of his position.
“I feel like it cost me my strength, and I lost a little bit of strength in that time,” Samuel said. “But I was able to sit down in the film room and in my room and study the playbook more.”
Samuel said he’ll meet with doctors again in late July or early August before being given the final go-ahead.
The silent treatment
Richt has earned a bit of criticism this offseason for his critiques of the media’s role in last season’s struggles, the fairness of playing Florida each year in Jacksonville, Fla., and the daunting out-of-conference schedule his team faces. He said he has learned his lesson. In the future, Richt said, he’s going to do a better job of keeping quiet.
“I’m going to give a lot less of my opinion,” Richt said. “A lot of times, I will say things pretty tongue-in-cheek, but it doesn’t read that way. So I’ve just got to guard my words. That’s just the position I’m in, especially this time of year.”