"I was playing boundary cornerback during the season," Sampson said. "This last fall camp I was playing a little bit of field corner, so I played on both sides of the field. I just do whatever I can."
An aggressive and physical defensive back, Sampson's coverage skills helped San Mateo win the Northern California Championship. Now he's been switched from corner to the safety position.
"I moved from cornerback to play nickel this week, and I've been moved to kat safety," Sampson said. "I think it was a good decision and it's a position where I feel comfortable playing at."
The decision to switch Sampson came last week.
"The decision for me to make the switch came during the bye week," said Sampson. "I just came out here and started taking reps at kat safety to learn a new position. This week I'm playing more nickel though."
As the fifth defensive back, Jray Galea'i has struggled to see the field due to a nagging back injury. Many BYU fans will recall seeing Carter Mees take the field instead of Galea'i as a backup to Daniel Sorensen. To further shore up the position, BYU's coaching staff approached Sampson about making the switch.
"Yeah, the coaches came to me and told me that I would be playing nickel this week," Sampson said. "Now I just have to make it work. It's a good position for me, but I can move back to cornerback if they need me. I've been playing football for so many years, I'm just naturally blessed to have been able to pick up both positions."
The safeties have the advantage of seeing the lineup of the offensive formation, and thus they have the responsibility of making defensive calls to get teammates in the right position. Sampson not only has to know his new position, but the responsibilities of his teammates as well.
"Oh yeah, I'm learning and I'm getting it down," Sampson said. "You have to know what each position is doing and know exactly what they have to do so you know exactly what you have to do. In that regards I'm pretty clued in.
"I'm pretty clued in and learning it really quickly actually, and the 3-4 defense is basically a defense that I already know. It's just now getting down the terminology and language. That's basically what I'm doing now is just learning the language of our defense. That's what I'm working on mostly now."
This week BYU will face the Vandals of Idaho at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
"You'll see me out there and we might run more the nickel depending on how much [Idaho] wants to pass on us," Sampson said. "Idaho is pretty balanced and they run and pass about 50-50, but there are certain formations that they run that are more predominantly geared towards more passing. So, we're just putting more nickel in there."
If it is true that a nickel back might be used more to help defend against Idaho's passing attack of Idaho, then it begs the question of why a nickel back wasn't used more in the TCU game.
However, Coach Mendenhall mentioned that the move wasn't based on shoring up the scheme, but rather for depth purposes..
"Joe is comfortable at corner and safety," Coach Mendenhall said. "Jray Galea'i has a back injury right now and DeQuan Everett has played really well at boundary corner, so it kind of became a need based on Jray Galea'i going down."
With Galea'i struggling with an injury, could a medical redshirt be in the works?
"I'm not sure," Coach Mendenhall said. "We're still kind of in the evaluation stage of when it might be possible for him to come back, and so not enough information to then say what the future might be."
Sampson feels that the switch will allow him to help the defense more.
"I think it gives me the chance to use more of my football instincts," he said. "At cornerback you're more specifically focused on playing one man and doing your best to take care of your responsibilities within either the field or boundary cornerback position. You can't really read the play or what's going on. I feel more comfortable playing safety because now I'm involved with reading the offense and the play.
"It's just getting down the little things now, things like knowing when I have to push to the flat in certain route combinations and stuff like that. For the most part, I feel comfortable with all of this and it's the same type of things I did when I was playing at the junior college level. I'm ready, so let's see what happens."