Vista Ridge head coach Jerimi Calip told BuffStampede.com there is a lot to like in the agile, somewhat raw, football wise, 2017 defensive lineman. The in-state Sami flew under the radar, but things picked up in a Power-5 way down the backstretch.
“I think Colorado is getting a player that’s yet to reach his potential. Jalen is 6-5, 330-pound kid and I think he’s just now tapping into what he can be,” Calip said.
“We had coach [Jim] Jeffcoat come out a week or two ago. They were really active early on toward the end of the season, but didn’t hear anything. When coach Jeffcoat came in I kind of used that as an opportunity to introduce him and Jalen. … Coach Jeffcoat liked the film and it kind of just went to an offer from there.”
Sami’s recruitment remains a bit of a mystery. In the day and age of Hudl, Twitter and a multitude of social media avenues, the Vista Ridge product did not pick up Power-5 interest until late in the game.
“I don’t know how, I don’t know what or why it’s tough to get. He’s a 6-5 kid, I sent his film to every school out there and on the west coast and no one bit on it,” Calip continued.
“He went out to the University of Washington and went to their individual camp. He didn’t make it to the CU camp, financial reasons he couldn’t do a lot of camps.”
The SEC’s Mississippi joined the Buffs in popping up late in Colorado Springs. The call from the Rebels to offer Sami came as a surprise to the Vista Ridge coaching staff.
“That was really the shocker. Any time you have a SEC school call up to Colorado and offer a kid a full ride out of the blue, really shocked at that. Knowing what kind of player Jalen is going to end up being, I think they probably see the same thing CU sees and what I saw there,” Calip said.
Sami came on strong at the end of the season for 6-5 Vista Ridge, fighting his way through double teams and players gunning for his knees. Calip believes pad level will be an important part of the game his lineman will need to focus on at CU.
“I just think with him being a big kid, just pad level that’s always something you’ve got to work on with bigger kids. Getting him to stay down low. Obviously he’s developing physically and learning their scheme,” Calip said.
“For a 6-5, 330-pound kid he changes direction really well. It’s really surprising how well he moves laterally. For a big guy that’s impressive, he’s really agile. … He’s always had someone around his knees and his legs, he’s good at using his hands. He was able to be productive getting double and triple teamed,” Calip continued on things Sami does well on the football field.
Sami sought guidance from his high school coach daily toward the end of the recruiting process. While it’s rare for P5 schools to come on strong with only days left in the cycle, Vista Ridge and the Sami crew are happy things played out the way they did.
“I’m glad that it happened. He really liked the university of Northern Colorado’s staff, pretty good guys. CSU-P offered him also. Weber State ended up coming in, they flew out and offered and wanted him to fly out,” Calip said.
“Once the CU one came through, though, that’s where he’s always wanted to play.”