In Introduction to College Football, Curtis Samuel Blossoms

By Kyle Rowland on April 18, 2014 at 9:15a
51 Comments

Urban Meyer’s searched far and wide for his ideal hybrid, stretch-the-field offensive threat. The explorations started in Columbus with few leads. Finally, in Brooklyn, N.Y. of all places, Meyer stumbled upon an athletic wide receiver who could also play in the backfield.

The “PH” name will go unspoken.

Curtis Samuel possesses game-breaking speed, playmaking moves and all the intangibles a coach would want in a skill player. Meyer handled the recruiting process personally instead of having an assistant court the prospect before coming in to close.

When spring practice began, attention quickly turned to early enrollees Raekwon McMillan and Johnnie Dixon. Samuel’s exploits were known, but McMillian and Dixon were already household names. With spring now in the rearview mirror, Samuel may have lapped the field. 

It didn’t even take 15 practices for wide receiver-turned-running back to create second glances. Meyer and the rest of the offensive coaches realized a dynamic player was on their hands before shoulder pads came on, despite a hamstring injury suffered by Samuel. His coming out party came with 2,500 classmates in attendance on Student Appreciation Day.

“Just go.”

Those were the words Meyer uttered in the direction of Samuel when the true freshman lined up in the backfield. Samuel proved he’s a quick learner when he peeled off a 50-yard run to the end zone, right through the heart of the defense.

In one instant, Meyer, as well as onlookers, discovered what he’d been searching for. It was an a-ha moment and unearthing the fountain of youth all at once. Productive players have dotted Ohio State’s roster the past two seasons. But it was square pegs in round holes when attempting to fill certain wants and needs.

There’s a certain player mold Meyer has on file in his head. It’s of skill players similar to Samuel and Dontre Wilson. Stretching defenses and generating mismatches is the goal.

“The guy that’s in the rotation already is Curtis Samuel,” Meyer said during spring drills. “I want to say that’s shocking, especially at tailback, because I thought he’d be more of a wide receiver-slash guy. Eventually he might, but he’s legitimate running the ball.

“Unless there’s something up, he’ll play.”

Samuel’s size is noticeable in that he’s not built to take a beating in the physical Big Ten, though he did win in a collision with McMillan. That’s one reason why Samuel opted to enroll early. At 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, he’s hoping to add muscle before the season begins, which shouldn’t be an issue with Mickey Marotti around.

The running back depth chart was wide open when spring practice started. Ezekiel Elliott carried presumptive starter status. But everything was written in pencil. Six weeks later, the picture is starting to gain color and pen marks have been scribbled.

“The guy that really, really excites me is No. 4, Curtis Samuel,” Meyer said after the spring game. “We just have to figure out if he’s got enough size and strength to take the pounding running back’s take.

“We have some depth there, but right now 15 (Elliott) and 4 (Samuel) are the two.”

Embracing competition is ingrained in all great athletes. Samuel didn’t come into Ohio State scared of Bri’onte Dunn, Rodd Smith and Warren Ball. He stared down the challengers and used speed and elusiveness to do his talking. And he often made it look effortless with his graceful style.  

Becoming a well-rounded force on offense is what Samuel aims for. He’s not interested in being a one-dimensional player who’s relied upon for a single reason. Samuel’s working on running the football, pass catching and receiving punts.

The spring was a crash course in college football for Samuel. It wasn’t entry level or 101 coursework, the coaches had him interpret 300- and 400-level work. Samuel used it as a time to let them know there’s a playmaker on the team who’s ready for liftoff this fall.

But it’s a cautionary tale for all. Five-star recruit comes in, he’s one of the fastest players on the team, hoopla surrounds him, fans are certain he can deliver as a freshman. The Buckeyes are only one year removed from Wilson’s impending success that didn’t materialize. He, like Samuel, also was getting familiar with a new position.

Even freshman superstars are still freshman. Mistakes are inevitable, as are highlight-filled moments that turn Ohio Stadium into a rock concert.  

“I’m getting better,” Samuel said. “I just want to keep progressing.”

51 Comments

Comments

TNBuckeye1421's picture

There is a three headed monster developing in the Buckeye backfield. Miller, Wilson, and Samuel there is not a faster playmaking trio in college football. I had seen highlights of Samuels Junior year but the tape I just watch of his 2013 season.... speechless.

+1 HS
avail31678's picture

Link to 2013 season vid?

BamBamBuck's picture

Add a big sprinkle of some EZE in there and watch out! The opposition will not know what hit them!

It will be interesting to see if CS can carry this momentum into the fall and be a useful, up the middle, elusive runner that can break the big plays. Jordan Hall was similar but did not have the top end speed to break the long runs. Will be fun to watch.

BamBamBuck

+2 HS
buckeyeradar's picture

Urban knows talent. We'll have so many weapons to use I just hope we can use them all. The tough part of coaching is keeping everyone happy.

Buckeye in Texas

+1 HS
Nutinpa's picture

Agree with you, radar.   Unless Drayton changes his habits, i.e., really platoons his RBs, there will be at least 2 guys in his stable that will not be happy.  It just isn't numerically possible.  A glut of riches...yes!  With Dunn, Samuel, Wilson, Ball, EZE and Smith....that is enough to gloat over, even with a young O line.  But I just can't see enough touches for those guys to keep them happy, especially in an offense that will be forced to pass (often) as Defenses line up and dare Miller to throw.  Will be fun to watch how it progresses, though!

Statutoryglory's picture

I imagine it like that scene in The Program.  Curtis walks in and introduces himself as a running back.  Rod Smith shoulders in and says that he's the starting running back.  Then they glare at each other and spend the rest of this semester fighting over Halle Berry.

+13 HS
johnny11's picture

Samuel reminds me of a young C.J. Spiller type back. I will be real interested to see what type of roll he has once fall comes around and Smith is back. I want to see if he can add some more bulk as well in the summer. With Dunn and Ball surging as well it will interesting to see how it shakes out when we take the field at Navy. Go Bucks

+1 HS
DC-town's picture

Nice article, although 'the cautionary tale' at the end of the article needs to be drilled home... Dude is a true freshman and is behind a few players on the depth chart and will take a bit to figure everything out-

it still pains me to hear people talk about dontre's freshmen year as a negative

'Piss excellence' -RB

+6 HS
Oxley's picture

Completely agree. One interesting difference, though, is that it's Urban talking about playing time this time around.

As I remember, most of the buzz surrounding Wilson was from fans/commentators, with Urban occasionally telling people to put on the brakes because he wasn't there yet. Now he's the one putting Samuel in the top two. So there's at least some cause for optimism, I hope.

+2 HS
Kyle Rowland's picture

Yep. As I wrote yesterday, Meyer is a master motivator. Everything he does, whether it's talking a player up or saying so and so hasn't earned a starting spot, is calculated. When he speaks highly of true freshman, you better believe he means it. 

Kyle Rowland's picture

Part of that is certainly the media's fault. But when Braxton Miller and Christian Bryant are telling us how great he is, we're going to write it. He had more than 500 total yards, which is a solid freshman season. But his level of production was nowhere near some of the other skill players around the country in recent memory. Keep in mind that Urban gave a pretty damning review of Wilson in October. That said, it's clear he's poised for a huge sophomore season.  

tfduncan's picture

Interesting that Meyer handled his recruitment directly.  I think I also read he did the same thing for Eze.  Anyone know which prospects he is handling directly in this class?

Scarlet_Buckeye's picture

Many on here are going to be SEVERELY disappointed. The hype around Samuel is just insanely unrealistic. Our backfield is arguably the deepest position, and we already have talk about Samuel as the "2nd string" guy, maybe even the starter. That's just absurdly stupid. Samuel *will* see the field. Samuel *will* get touches. But people need to slow down the hype train with this kid, or we're going to lump so much insane pressure on this poor guy he's going to bust. How many true freshmen end up garnering substantial minutes/plays?! Even our very own Dontre Wilson last year who was heralded like Samuel this year didn't receive *THAT* many touches. All I'm saying is... Please slow down the hype train with this kid until we actually see him do something in a game first. My fear is we're going to put so much pressure and so high of expectations on this poor kid we're going to run him out of town. If you look at the depth chart, we have Eze, Dunn, Rod Smith, and Ball... The chances a true freshman usurps all FOUR of those guys is small. 

+9 HS
buckeyestu's picture

i have no hype in regards to Samuel. Actions speak louder than words. I think Wilson had a good year last year. I am looking forward to seeing Smith, Dunn, Eze, and Ball playing. So many weapons, I am ready for some football.

+2 HS
CC's picture

Drama - I don't think anyone is betting their life savings on it, I think people are just lookinf for the next OSU great.

I'd argue Dontre had a great season but was limited by Hyde and Philly.  This year there are going to be a whole bunch of touches to go around and no clear cut starters.

 

+3 HS
ITWASME's picture

It wasn't a fan saying he was 2nd string. It was UFM

+1 HS
Colerain 2004 G.O.A.T.'s picture

Meyer himself was the one interviewed and mentioned EzE as first string and Samuel as second. The spring game kind of reaffirmed that also. Rod Smith,Warren Ball,and Brionte  Dunn have a very similar skillset to EzE. If he is going to be the workhorse and Curtis is going to get the change of pace type of carries as a speed back then the hype could be justified. Urban said they need to find out if his body and mind are going to be able to hold up to the grind of the B1G.  Wilson has been moved to a fulltime WR. Samuel very well could play the role that everyone thought Wilson would play last year. They said Wilsons body just wasn't big enough to block and take the beating and it is well known that not only did Samuel come in early unlike Wilson but Curtis also walked onto campus a good 20 lbs. heavier then Wilson did and has a few extra months to get more prepared. I feel you on we should be reserved on expectations but in some circumstances everything lines up for a total eclipse.

I speak the truth but I guess that's a foreign language to yall.~~Lil Wayne

HattanBuck85's picture

Most important thing for Curtis right now is to bulk up and learn how to block.

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." - Woody Hayes

+2 HS
Furious George 27's picture

Didn't they toy with the idea of moving Ball to LB a few years ago or was that just for Rod Smith?

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

tussey's picture

I'm pretty sure that was just Smith.  He played safety in high school.  I remember watching him play my high school his senior year and his best plays that night were at safety.

+6 HS
Furious George 27's picture

Thanks!

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

tussey's picture

While everyone wants to compare Wilson and Samuel and how most had too high of expectations for Wilson coming in, the one glaring difference is that Samuel came in for spring ball.  Wilson didn't come in until the summer.  In theory, Samuel should be much further along than Wilson was by the time the season starts.  Also if Samuel is half way decent at fielding punts, that is a way for him to get some touches without having him take the ball out of another backs hands.  

+6 HS
cinserious's picture

Very good point TUSSEY. Also, I would like to point out that Dontre Has since been moved to the WR position group and won't really be in direct competition with Samuel. The competition for touches will be between a super athletic RB stable and a super athletic WR group!

 

Gone ham, be back soon...

+2 HS
tussey's picture

Very true.  I was surprised that Samuel was moved to RB, I thought he was going to be an edge player.  I wonder if Meyer thought Dixon, Samuel, and Wilson were all similar types of players and since Wilson and Dixon are more polished at WR and Samuel was a hybrid type player, he put Samuel in the backfield.  

cinserious's picture

I suspect when Samuel lines up in the backfield, he won't be alone. There will be an Elliott, R. Smith, or Dunn ready to take it up the gut while Samuel does a sweep or short out in space to put a move or two on the edge defenders. Curtis should end up at least as fast as Wilson but with more power and jukes!

In contradiction to what I said above, maybe Samuel and Wilson will be competing to do the EXACT same thing.

Gone ham, be back soon...

buckeyedude's picture

Just hang on to the football, Curtis, and start drinking your dynamic muscle builder protein shakes.

 

 

Buckidelphia's picture

"Wilson’s impending success that didn’t materialize."

A little harsh don't you think? Wilson had almost 500 yards of offense sandwiched in between two Heisman trophy candidates. 

Wilson had a great rookie campaign, dude was a freshman. Not many play, let alone contribute on offense & special teams the way he did. 

+4 HS
buckskin's picture

Like many have stated on here, Wilson was burdened with enormous expectations; which led many to believe he was going to have at least a Ted Ginn Jr. impact his freshman year.  The year he had was pretty good, but to many he failed to live up to their own expectations of him.  I admit that I bought way too much into the Wilson hype.  I wonder how people would view his season if he came in as a 3 star afterthought.

AlwayzABuckeye614's picture

Wilson was 180 lbs last year as well and thats why his role was diminished a little bit. I do not see Samuel succeeding Wilson's 2013 numbers only because of his size alone, not his ability. 

GabrielBuckeye's picture

I agree man, he doesn't run a 4.2 like Ginn did. I think we all keep hoping someone replicates what he did back in '04.

Scarlet_Buckeye's picture

I agree with this.  We are all eagerly awaiting the next "Ted Ginn Jr".  But even that... Ted Ginn Jr did not run the 4.2 as you state.  Just 13 guys have run a 4.2 since 1999 (when electronic timing was first implemented).  And Ginn was not one of them.

Toilrt Paper's picture

I do not care what Ginn Jr. ran a 40 in. NO ONE I mean N-O O-N-E could stay with him, let alone catch him, on the football field in his 3 years at Ohio State. It would look like someone had an angle on him, but it was never close.

GabrielBuckeye's picture

Honestly, the media, and fans (including me) are doing the exact same thing we did with Wilson last year. Over hyping, thinking he's going to come in and set the world on fire. I'm going to wait until the first 2 or 3 games to make my judgement.

+2 HS
seafus26's picture

With our depth and different skill sets at RB , I'd love to see that diamond formation (was that what it was called?) utilized at times. I might not be correct in the formation's name. It was discussed previously and used by Ok St. and the 49ers.

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

ToetotheFace's picture

I'm almost sure they're going to use it to some extent, and yes that is the formations name. I remember one day I was messing around making up ideas for a formation(obviously not to the level of technicality as real playbooks, but it was still fun), and I made up a formation with very similar placement as the diamond. I didn't even realize a real formation like that actually existed until I watched some OK St. games that year when they used it to a very high degree of success.

seafus26's picture

Some of our runners have more of a combination of power and speed than those Ok. St. runners. It could be very interesting. I think we could use it as a power running formation and sneak some passes to backs out of it. Man... Rod Smith  and Ball flanked to each side of Braxton, and then another hammer behind him in Dunn. Or mix that anyway you want including Samual and Zeke. We effectively would have 4 potential ballcarriers in the backfield at once.

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

tennbuckeye19's picture

I gotta say, Kyle you do a great job covering the team for 11W. I don't think you get enough praise for the work you do. I love reading your stuff.

+1 HS
Kyle Rowland's picture

Ha, thanks. Where do I send you the check? 

buckskin's picture

After watching Percy in the SB, we need to stop making unfair comparisons to him.  That guy is a beast and super smooth on the field.  Let's allow Dontre and Curtis develop into the player that best fits their skill set, whatever that may be.

+1 HS
pdan46's picture

I cannot up-vote your comments, but I would if I could.  We need to recognize that these kids are Freshmen and not to expect them to play like All-Americans from the very beginning.  Same goes for McMillan, although I do expect him to get a lot of PT.

BrowardBuckeye's picture

Agree Buckskin. Surprisingly enough, many people fail to realize just how special Harvin is. He was far and away the best offensive player on those UF teams. Tebow gets the credit, but he was at best the 3rd best offensive player on those teams behind Harvin and Hernandez. Harvin is a once in a decade type of talent...incredible combination of speed, strength and vision.

Toilrt Paper's picture

How big was Harvin when he was a Freshman at Florida? Did he stay healthy at Florida? He's had a few injuries in the NFL. Pushing our luck if Wilson or Samuel runs out of the backfield a lot.

BrowardBuckeye's picture

Pretty sure Harvin was about the same size as CS as a freshman....around 5'11, 180. He was the #1 WR in his class and top 5 nationally regardless of position. Unsure of his injury history at UF. Don't think it was too extensive, but believe he has always dealt with migraine issues.

Anyway, I cringe when we attach the Harvin label to any young player because it seems his talent has always been undervalued/overlooked, especially at UF.

BrowardBuckeye's picture

Pretty sure Harvin was about the same size as CS as a freshman....around 5'11, 180. He was the #1 WR in his class and top 5 nationally regardless of position. Unsure of his injury history at UF. Don't think it was too extensive, but believe he has always dealt with migraine issues.

Anyway, I cringe when we attach the Harvin label to any young player because it seems his talent has always been undervalued/overlooked, especially at UF.

BrowardBuckeye's picture

Sorry, not sure how the double post happened.

WhySoSerious's picture

Why no W. Ball live dude seems to be gamer.

Rare&Uncommon

Like the ball in the stands, we balls out

GVerrilli92's picture

I honestly think we have 4, maybe even 5 RBs that could lead the B1G in rushing given the starter's load.

 The last 8-10 years of tOSU football should be called "The Lydell Ross Counter-Reformation Period."

This is just getting ridiculous. I wish we could rotate them all, ala Pete Carroll in his last few years at USC with Joe McKnight and Co.

 

Also, for some reason everybody thinks Curtis is going to be the pivot or play more like a WR - I don't think so.  He plays very well behind the line. Check his tape on youtube and watch all of the direct snaps he takes. Part of his skill set is the ability to see the hole and bait an LB up into the wrong one. He's gonna bounce a few outside, but I expect him to take most of his touches as a traditional RB.

This offense is going to be unstoppable with Zeek and Curtis running the speed option and Rod/Ball/Dunn coming in for dropback passes and ZR/Veer. Our run-attack should be as versatile a brand as there as in the country. So much movement, so many playmakers for a defense to mark.

How many cheeseburgers are you gunna drive into that dirty old cheeseburger locker Brady Hoke?

+1 HS
HattanBuck85's picture

Great writeup! I also think that w/ Meyer & Herman using the 2nd Level option, it is going to open up a lot of holes for Braxton, Dontre, Zeke & Curtis. 

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." - Woody Hayes