March 11, 2009

Spring ahead: Fullbacks

OK, it's trivia time:

Who's the only active player in college player to score touchdowns the first two times he ever touched the football?

If you guessed Fred Munzenmaier, give yourself a blue star.

Yes, it's true. Although he's seen little action in the backfield for Georgia the past few years backing up Brannan Southerland and Shaun Chapas, Munzenmaier has had the Midas touch the two carries he has received as both resulted in touchdowns for the Norcross native.

"I kind of give the rest of the guys a hard time," Munzenmaier said. "If Chapas gets a carry and doesn't get in, I might say something along the lines of "You know I would have made it, don't you?'"

Munzenmaier laughs that he doesn't quite know what to make of his unusual statistic.

His first touchdown came in 2007 against Ole Miss and before adding his second score in last year's game at LSU.

"It's just one of those things, I guess," Munzenmaier said. "Whenever I'm in the game I try to make something happen."

So far, much of Munzenmaier's game day action has been on special teams, although this year he figures to get a bit more time in the backfield this spring.

With Southerland graduated and moving onto to what he hopes is a successful career in the NFL, Munzenmaier moves up a run on the depth chart to No. 2 where he sits behind his good buddy Chapas.

"Shaun's done a great job," Munzenmaier said. "I've learned a lot from both he and Brannan. I'm just looking forward to helping out as much as I can."

Munzenmaier won't be the only fullback at Georgia's disposal.

This spring, walk-ons Cortney Newmans (5-foot-9, 225) and Josh Sailors (5-9, 230) will help bolster the position which will have to wait until preseason until Justin Fields is able to return from his torn ACL.

Despite the graduation of Southerland, Georgia's fullback position appears to be in good hands.

Although fullbacks only accounted for 10 carries last fall, Chapas' ability as an outlet for quarterback Matthew Stafford resulted in nine catches for the St. Augustine, Fla. native for 120 yards, including one that went for an 11-yard touchdown reception against Kentucky.

"Shaun proved that he could do a lot of things to help this football team," Munzemaier said. "We've both worked very hard to get where we are. We're definitely going to miss Brannan, but with what we've learned we believe we'll be able to keep getting better and make an even bigger impact this fall."

Not only does Munzenamaier believe he's a better football player, but he's a better person as well.

Last year, the 6-2, 235-pounder was suspended for the first two games by head coach Mark Richt for an alcohol-related offense. Originally, the suspension was just for one game before Richt changed his mind and bumped it up to two after learning how Munzenmaier had allegedly "mouthed off" to police officers during the initial incident.

All has since been forgiven.

These days, Munzenmaier and Chapas both are more concerned with their jobs as fullbacks, which will take on added significance as the Bulldogs attempt to replace tailback Knowshon Moreno with a quartet of others, which this spring will focus on Caleb King and Carlton Thomas.

"We just want to make their job (the tailbacks) as easy as possible," Munzenmaier said. "We think we've got some great tailbacks. We're going to help them out all we can."



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