At Dallas Skyline High School it's hard to overshadow Thomas Johnson, the four-star wide receiver who went on to sign with Texas A&M. If anyone did in the state of Texas in '11 it was Skyline teammate, Ra'Shaad Samples, who amassed 1,369 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior. His monster season has led to more than 20 Division 1 offers and counting.
"I thought I improved on a lot of things this season," said Ra'Shaad Samples. "I had more yards after the catch, ran better routes, and was more explosive. This was my second season as a starter, and I feel like I'm maturing as a player."
Samples, 6-foot, 170-pounds, was named First Team All-State (Texas 5A) and All-District (9-5A). The Raiders advanced to the state semifinals where they fell to eventual champion Southlake Carroll, 28-24. Ten Skyline Raiders signed with Division 1 programs in the class of 2012. Now Samples is the guy they're all after.
"I'm hearing from a lot of schools right now," said Samples. "Recently I've talked to Texas Tech, Alabama, and Cal. I've been on unofficial visits to Texas, Texas A&M, and TCU. My first offer was from Kansas State. I'm high on them because I really like [wide receiver coach] Michael Smith."
The phone calls are likely constant for Samples from now until signing day as is the usual case with big talent, from a big state, at a big high school program.
"What I'm looking for are coaches who I have a good relationship with, but I know are going to keep pushing me," said Samples of a college choice. "I want to go somewhere that feels like home with a family environment. I'll probably go to a few camps this summer to get a better look at some schools, but right now all I have planned is the Nike camp at TCU in March."
Ra'Shaad's father, Reginald Samples, took over as head football coach at Skyline in 2005. He hasn't fielded a bad team and looks to be formidable again in 2012.
"It's been pretty good," Samples said of playing for his father. "I think sometimes it's better for me because I know he's really going to push me hard to be my best.
"We'll have a good team next year. We have Devante Kincaid back at quarterback, Kerrick Huggins at defensive tackle, and Isaiah Williams at inside linebacker, just to name a few. I know I'll have to pick up the slack without Thomas (Johnson). I think it's a team that can go to state."
Kincade, who also has an offer from Kansas State, connected with Samples twice for touchdowns in Skyline's big 41-31 playoff win against DeSoto. Samples' biggest game of the year may have come against W.W. Samuell when he had four receiving touchdowns. He's trying to boost his speed by running track in the off-season.
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