Photo courtesy of Gridiron Athletics

Asante Samuel: Ready to make his own name

Four-star defensive back Asante Samuel has a pretty recognizable name. His father, Asante Samuel, was a two time superbowl champion and four time Pro Bowler during his time playing for the Patriots, Eagles and Falcons.

The younger Asante, a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Fla.), is making sure that his play on the field and not his name, is what makes him stand out.

Growing up with a professional athlete for a father is something not many people experience, but it does not affect the way Samuel lives and plays.

“It was regular,” Samuel said of his life growing up. “He let me do my own thing.”

In fact, it was Samuel’s cousin who first introduced him to the game. A backyard toss at four years old made Samuel fall in love with football.

“He took me out to play,” Samuel explained. “I just remember playing and thinking, ‘Sign me up.’”

Signing up was the first step towards success for him, the second was changing positions. When Samuel arrived at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, he was originally expecting to play quarterback and cornerback. Due to a crowded quarterback position, Samuel focused on perfecting his craft at cornerback.

Although he still plays on offense from time to time, Samuel’s heart now belongs to the defensive side as he has thrived in the secondary. Defense has an added perk of protection that Samuel very much appreciates.

“I don’t like getting hit,” Samuel joked when talking about why he preferred defense to offense, and it’s hard not to agree with his logic.

No matter the reasoning for why Samuel plays where he does, it is clear that he belongs at cornerback. Rated a 4-star prospect by 247sports.com, Asante finished his junior season with 26 tackles, 2 interceptions and 12 passes defended according to MaxPreps. He also picked up numerous Division I offers along the way. What many would consider a great season is viewed as average to Samuel for one main reason.

“We lost,” Samuel said. “I wanted to go undefeated, I wanted to win a championship.”

Samuel’s desire to be the best and have his team be the best makes him view this season as incomplete, real testament to his work ethic and attitude towards the game. Samuel wants to win and be the best, he also wants success not just for himself but for everyone who he plays alongside. With the 2017 schedule already released, it is only a matter of time before Samuel and his teammates begin to embark on another season and it is clear that in his senior year it will be championship or bust for Samuel and St. Thomas Aquinas.

As his senior season approaches, there’s another date that is creeping up on Samuel. On March 8, Samuel announced that in the summer of 2017 he will commit to a college after narrowing down his list to five schools. LSU, Florida State, Alabama, Ohio State and Miami are all in the running for the class of 2018 prospect.

It’s been a long process for Samuel, who started receiving offers as early as eighth grade, but he is grateful that he was able to take part in such an exciting experience.

“It’s hectic,” Samuel said when describing the recruiting process. “But it’s also been a blessing because some people don’t get to go through this.”

No matter what school he ends up choosing, Samuel already knows exactly what he wants to accomplish during his time in college.

“I want to continue to live my dream,” Samuel expressed. “I hope to be the best I can be for me and my teammates.”

Off the field, Samuel is prepared to major in communications with a focus on sports as he hopes to someday be an analyst on ESPN.

With everything coming together for Samuel, he never forgets to take a step back and thank the person who made it possible for him to live out his dream, his mother Candice.

“She motivated me,” Samuel “always making sure I was on the right track.”

To keep Samuel on the right track, his mother would have to put her son’s life before her own.

“I sacrificed a lot,” Candice said. “Just using basically all of my resources to get him into camps.”

The sacrifices have paid off, and she can now sit back and enjoy watching her son as he gets ready to enter the next part of his journey knowing he will be getting a good education and getting to play the game he loves.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” she said. “I want to see him live out his dream. It’s indescribable.”

Soon enough, Samuel’s dream of playing collegiate football will become a reality. Although his father had an impressive career at UCF and in the NFL, the younger Asante Samuel is ready to make a name for himself as he works towards becoming the best.