Georgia coach Mark Richt opens up tailback job for the bowl game

Georgia tailback Richard Samuel, who hasn't played since Oct. 29, should be ready for the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2.

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia coach Mark Richt expects junior tailback Richard Samuel to be healthy when the 18th-ranked Bulldogs play No. 12 Michigan State in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2.

Samuel missed the final four regular-season games and the Southeastern Conference championship game against Louisiana State University after having surgery to repair ligament damage in his left ankle, which was injured on the final play of Georgia’s 24-20 win over Florida on Oct. 29.

“I imagine that when we get to the bowl site, he’ll be ready to do everything,” Richt said. “That would be my guess.”

His availability would provide size (he’s 6 feet 2, 243 pounds), depth, plus maturity and experience to a position that has proved troublesome for the Bulldogs (10-3) this season.

Isaiah Crowell rushed for 847 yards and five touchdowns and was selected as the SEC’s freshman of the year, but he missed a game after being suspended for a violation of team rules and most of another one with an ankle injury.

.Knowing Samuel likely would return in time for Georgia’s bowl, Richt opened the tailback competition after the SEC Championship game.

“Do you guys think that anybody established themselves as a solid starter at the tailback position?” Richt asked rhetorically Friday.

“I haven’t seen that,” he said. “Competition is a good thing. I’m looking forward to it.”

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