The 16th installment of the Better Know a Buckeye series profiles Curtis Samuel, an athlete, or "hybrid", prospect from Brooklyn, New York. Samuel is a fascinating prospect. He is arguably the best overall signee in Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class. If he is not the highest rated prospect in Ohio State's signing class, it is his own doing. Samuel was somewhat reclusive on the signing trail and is not on social media. Absent means to talk up his recruiting status, Samuel let his combine performances and highlight tape do the talking. After he pledged to Ohio State, he became silent altogether. Ohio State fans will get to know him better this fall.
This feature will better know him here. I retell his recruitment here and the reason for his pledge to Ohio State. Thereafter, I provide a discussion of strengths and areas for improvement before suggesting Samuel will play as a true freshman. I offer highlight film and conclude with miscellaneous things about Curtis Samuel you may find interesting.
High School: Erasmus Hall High School; Brooklyn, NY
This recap of Samuel's recruitment begins near the end of last February when Ohio State extended a scholarship offer. By that time, Samuel was sitting on four offers from local programs like Connecticut, Rutgers, and Syracuse. Virginia had also offered. Understanding who offered when is difficult. By the end of his junior year, Samuel listed offers from programs across the country, including heavyweights like Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and USC, among many others.
Samuel listed a top five of Alabama, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Rutgers in the first week of May. Though Samuel listed five schools in alphabetical order, his recruitment through the summer was a battle between the last two schools mentioned on the list. Ohio State's offensive style and aggressive recruiting approach paid dividends through the spring and summer. Rutgers was keeping pace as well. Before its class disintegrated near the end of 2013, Rutgers was on quite the recruiting tear for 2014. Samuel was a high-priority target for Kyle Flood.
After a great performance at The Opening combine in Oregon, Samuel took an unofficial visit to Ohio State for the 2013 Friday Night Lights camp. Samuel felt at home during his unofficial visit. That Urban Meyer was pitching a role similar to what Percy Harvin did for him for the Florida Gators helped Meyer's cause. Samuel patterned himself off Harvin during his youth.
By all accounts, Samuel was a strong Ohio State lean through the summer. Rutgers' position with Samuel through the summer may have been a function of Samuel's desire to stay close to home. Despite holding offers from prestigious programs like Alabama and USC, he did not attempt a visit. He did not give serious consideration to offers like those from Clemson and Florida. Samuel has said he will miss dinners with Mom and Dad the most when he starts his collegiate career. Going to Rutgers would have been the ideal balance between proximity to home and playing for a competitive program.
Fighting uphill for his verbal pledge, Rutgers hosted Samuel for an unofficial visit in the first week of August. Kyle Flood showed Samuel everything he could about Rutgers and hammered home that Rutgers was the first program to notice Samuel. It offered him when he was a sophomore. Samuel enjoyed his visit and enjoyed everything Rutgers had done for him.
However, his lean to Ohio State was too strong for any other decision when he announced a commitment date of August 16.
On August 16, 2013, Curtis Samuel became the 16th member of Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class. He chose Ohio State over nearby Rutgers.
Samuel's recruitment was handled by his coaching staff at Erasmus Hall who emphasized that Samuel's decision for Ohio State was what felt best for him despite Samuel being a lifelong resident of New York City. Playing for Urban Meyer, who personally handled the recruitment of Samuel to Ohio State, was too much of any opportunity to forgo for Rutgers.
Where He Excels
If this feature seems light on quotes and tidbits about Samuel, that is because of how Samuel handled his recruitment. In an era of "stars" and social media campaigns to woo prospects to a fan's program of choice, Samuel is the "anti-recruit". He said little on the recruiting trail. He allowed his high school coaches to serve as his representatives. After he committed to Ohio State, Samuel dropped off the recruiting grid entirely.
This behavior is somewhat refreshing because it belies just how good Samuel is. In my opinion, he is the best overall prospect in this recruiting class regardless of star ranking. Basically, Samuel could have been a consensus five-star prospect if he wanted to "play the game" a little. Instead, Samuel was content to make his decision when he did and go back to a quiet life of family dinners before graduating and enrolling at Ohio State in January. That he hails from New York State, known more for its basketball than its football, helped him retain anonymity in the world of college football recruiting.
Samuel could be a safety in college football but Ohio State wants him at that "H-back" role popularized by Percy Harvin in Urban Meyer's offense. Toward that end, he has a nice "choppy" stride that Meyer wants for that particular role.
Still, Samuel erases angles defenders have on him. He makes it look effortless too. That he is already posting sub-4.4 40s and 40-inch verticals as a 16-year-old high school junior makes his highlight film more impressive despite the opposition. His high school head coach, Danny Landberg, is bullish on what Ohio State's conditioning program will do for him.
“I like that he’s a no nonsense guy,” Lamberg said. “When Curt hits the weight room and conditioning and eating right, he will have NFL combine numbers that will be off the charts going into his junior year. I’ve known him for a long time, I’ve seen many players, his potential is like none other that I’ve seen.”
Must Work On
New York City might be an "emerging" high school football market at the moment but Samuel will have an adjustment transitioning to major college football. Enrolling in January helped.
I see some bad habits from Samuel that are correctable with experience and proper coaching. His ball control can be lax at times. He is also quick to abort a play and improvise if he feels uncomfortable with the play as it is developing. Sometimes a player has to trust the play call. Samuel will learn this.
No. Barring an injury, Samuel should play as a true freshman. I would put him on a watchlist for the conference's freshman of the year award too. I tend to avoid hype in these features but I am that keen on what Samuel can do at Ohio State.
These are from Samuel's senior year.
- 11W feature on Samuel from last month.
- Gatorade player of the year in New York.
- Nice fluff piece from 247sports on Curtis Samuel, his youth, and his football development. This is where he talks about missing family dinners in college.
- Samuel is the first Ohio State signee from New York State since Doug Worthington in the 2005 recruiting class.
- Samuel was a U.S. Army All-American along with more than half of Ohio State's recruiting class.
- Video feature on his recruitment.
- NY Daily News feature.
- Samuel rushed for 1,461 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2013. He averaged 15.8 yards per rush.
- His high school team's nickname is "the Dutchmen". Unique high school nicknames will always get mentions in these features.
- His high school in its current form (K382) is an artifact of the old Erasmus Hall High School. With its origin as the Erasmus Academy in 1786, it is one of the oldest in the country. Alumni include Joe Barbera, Bobby Fischer, Barbra Streisand, Sid Luckman, and Mae West, among many others.