Sometimes it’s all about who gets there first. In the case of O'Maury Samuels recruitment, that certainly played a major role in who wound up with his commitment.
The four-star Los Lunas (N.M.) running back pledged to Michigan tonight after a whirlwind courtship that began with a scintillating performance at Nike’s Opening Regional in Dallas last month. Shortly after the Maize & Blue extended him his first Power Five offer. That was enough to prompt a visit to Ann Arbor this weekend. That one visit was all it took to convince him that he had found his collegiate home.
“Man, it was fantastic,” Samuels told The Michigan Insider. “I loved the atmosphere. I loved the people around there. I loved the area. Their facilities were just great. I got to communicate with some of the players. They were nice. They told me how (things are) run things there at Michigan. I really like it out there. I got to talk to Coach Harbaugh and Coach Wheatley. We talked about how I could be their All-Purpose back for the 2017 class. They said they need one. “
“So I was like, hey, they need me. Why not?”
“They’re going to have a scat back, and all-purpose back, and a power back.”
Samuels didn't go into the visit with committing as even a remote consideration, but with Michigan looking for one back to round out its 2017 triumvirate, he didn’t want to miss out on what he came to see as the perfect opportunity.
"It was way more than I expected,” Samuels said. “It was awesome. It impressed me. The other college visits I went to didn’t have any of (pomp & circumstance) and it was a real game. Just imagine what a real game (during the season) will be like.”
The talented youngster’s father could see his son’s affinity for the Wolverines’ growing with each interaction… and not just in those with the coaches.
“My son really enjoyed the visit,” said Mr. Samuels. “He really enjoyed speaking with the coaches, messing with (recruiting coordinator) Bam (Richardson) and everybody, (including) Coach Harbaugh. Everyone from the grad assistants to the administration.”
“They just had (academic support) people come up to me and talk to me about academics,” O‘Maury added. “There was another guy that told me there is more to life than just football. They just showed me a lot. They showed me they don’t just want me for football either.”
That definitely was a major key for dad. It didn’t take him long to feel comfortable with the people he’s now trusting to help mold his son. On a day of that featured a number of memorable exchanges to that end, there was one that stood out from all the rest.
“(It was) the conversation between O’Maury and (Wheatley) as far as what he had to offer Michigan,” Mr. Samuels recalled. “We were appreciative that they were the first to extend the offer from a major university standpoint. We were immediately corrected (by Wheatley). He said, ‘no, this isn’t charity. I need you, and this is why I need you.’ It was broken down. I think that may have been the turning point for O’Maury.”
There was but one issue that gave him pause.
“On his pros and cons list the first thing on the con list was the distance,” Mr. Samuels said. “I reassured him that, ‘hey, Detroit is just 30 minutes away. You can jump on an airplane and come home whenever you need to.’“
“I’m excited! He’s 16. He’ll be 17 in June. I just want to see my son grow up. I want him to be around people that can do things for him other than football. I want to give them my child and get a man back.”
Dad’s reassurance certainly meant a lot. So too did that which he received from the Michigan player he spent the most time with, defensive lineman Brady Pallante.
“He is just a good guy,” Samuels said of Pallante. “He told me how things work and how Michigan runs things academically and athletically. He just showed me a lot and told me about the school. He’s from Florida and he told me about the transition from Florida to Michigan. He told me when you go to Michigan there’s family out here. Your teammates are your family. The people around you love you. I went there and I was like, ‘wow! These people are nice, polite, and genuine.”
Samuels plans to make his way back up to around those people in September for his official visit. In the meantime he’ll be training in preparation for Nike’s The Opening Finals in July and for a senior season during which he plans to take his game to an even higher level. During his junior campaign he rushed for 1,468 yards and 21 touchdowns in 11 games. A large chunk of those yards came on big plays where he outran defenses like they were standing still. He showcased that same explosiveness in Dallas with a 4.58 forty (electronic), a 4.14 shuttle and a 44-inch vertical jump. When the dust settled his composite score was and still is the highest on the Nike circuit to date (138.40). And according to Samuels he can do even better.
"I was nursing my hamstring, so I sat out track to get ready," said Samuels. "I wished I was healthier for The Opening (Regional in Dallas). I think if I was I could have ran a 4.3."
He'll have the chance to prove it in a few months.