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Tailback competition heating up

ATHENS - There could be some new competition in Georgia's competition to replace Knowshon Moreno at tailback.

Georgia entered its final week of spring practice on Monday with a fullback, Fred Munzenmaier, poised to be more than a blocker in Saturday's G-Day spring game at Sanford Stadium.

A shortage of healthy tailbacks helped convince coach Mark Richt to give Munzenmaier, a junior from Norcross High, a chance at tailback in last Saturday's scrimmage. The 6-foot-2, 232-pound Munzenmaier, who had only one carry in each of the last two seasons, had a team-high 11 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown in the scrimmage.

Munzenmaier still considers himself to be a blocker first, but he said he enjoyed the rare chance to carry the ball. On Monday, Richt said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and running backs coach Bryan McClendon were impressed by the fullback's running skills.

'He impressed Coach McClendon, Coach Bobo, the whole staff really,' Richt said. 'When everybody is healthy, I still think there will be a place for Fred to play some tailback. ... I would think he would get some carries on Saturday.'

Georgia has gone through spring with a shortage of tailbacks. Richard Samuel, expected to challenge Caleb King for the starting job, has been out all spring with a wrist injury. Redshirt freshman Dontavius Jackson finally joined practice on Monday after being limited with a knee injury. Kalvin Daniels, a walk-on, suffered a shoulder injury last week.

Daniels' injury helped open the way for Munzenmaier.

'Just a couple guys were a little extra banged up,' Munzenmaier said. 'They were trying to give a couple guys a break.

'I kind of joked around with Coach Mac and said 'Hey coach, let me get in there and run it.' I guess I bothered him enough that he gave me a chance.'

Munzenmaier entered spring as the backup to starting fullback Shaun Chapas.

'I enjoyed carrying the ball,' he said. 'I know I'm here to block, but I went in there and tried to run the ball real hard. It turned out to be a good day.'

Munzenmaier showed enough in Wednesday's practice that he was given more work in last Saturday's scrimmage. He worked at fullback and tailback on Monday.

Even King was impressed.

'Fred is a hard runner,' King said. 'Him coming in would be a great thing. He would be like a third-down type of back. He's big and strong so it would be a good fit.'

Offensive guard Chris Davis also said Munzenmaier's time at tailback could prove to be more than just a spring experiment.

'He looked good,' Davis said. 'He ran the ball hard and he can finish runs moving forward, which is what you want. He showed a little speed I didn't know he had. I wouldn't mind seeing him with the ball, but that's the coaches' decision.'

Freshman Washaun Ealey will join the depth chart at tailback in preseason practice, when Samuel also is expected to be full speed.

King and Carlton Thomas have been the only healthy scholarship backs to play all spring.

Richt compared the 5-foot-7, 165-pound Thomas with former Georgia tailback Tyson Browning.

Could Munzenmaier merit a comparison with Verron Haynes, who made a successful move from fullback to tailback in 2000?

'I don't know about that,' Richt said, 'but he's done a nice job running the ball.'

Notes: Senior receiver Kris Durham will miss the final week of spring practice with a left shoulder injury that may require surgery, Richt said. 'I don't know for certain what's going to happen, whether it will just be a rehab or a surgery thing, but he's out for the rest of spring, I know that,' Richt said.