SIGNEE STATUS: Samuels Brings Versatility

Charlotte (NC) Mallard Creek standout Jaylen Samuels had a memorable senior season, one that ended with him leading his team to the school's first state title.

Charlotte (NC) Mallard Creek standout Jaylen Samuels had a memorable senior season, one that ended with him leading his team to the school's first state title.

Samuels starred in the state title win over Wake Forest (NC) High School. He finished the game with seven carries for 99 yards and three touchdowns, and he also had five catches for 114 yards and two more scores. 12 touches... five touchdowns.

"He's been doing that all year," said Mallard Creek head coach Mike Palmieri after the victory. "I've been saying it all season long. He's a leader. We felt coming into the season that he was under the radar, and we liked it like that.

"He's the best football player in the state. When you have the best football player in the state, you get the best football player in the state the ball or you're not doing your job as a coach. It's really that simple."

"It just felt like we had a great year," said Samuels. "Everybody played as a team. We all came together and did what we had to do to win. We put the time in and things just worked out for us."

The numbers certainly back up Palmieri's claims. Playing in the state's highest classification, Samuels, who lined up at tailback, h-back, and wide receiver for Mallard Creek, had 109 carries for 1,404 yards (12.9 yards per carry) and 39 rushing touchdowns, and he added 49 catches for 932 yards and 16 more scores.

A 2013 Associated Press All-State selection, Samuels was named the Charlotte Mecklenburg I-Meck Offensive Player of the Year.

"I knew thatI had to prove myself," he stated. "I wasn't like that my junior year... plus, I knew I'd have even more opportunities.

"I had to work hard before the season, and it paid off. Running track my junior year really helped me... that and getting in better shape. I ran a 4.8 my junior year, and then when I went to Carolina's camp I ran a 4.5 so I knew I was going to be much faster and more explosive my senior year."

Samuels had one astounding statistic that stood out to his future head coach.

"This is a pretty amazing stat," NC State's Dave Doeren said of Samuels on Signing Day. "He scored a touchdown every 2.8 times he touched the football his senior year. If that's not productive, I don't know what is.

"He is, statistically, about as impressive as they come."

Samuels committed to NC State after earning an offer while attending the Wolfpack's summer camp. He held several small school offers and also picked up one from Wake Forest later in the process.

"He was in our camp and worked predominantly at H-back and fullback," said NC State running backs coach Des Kitchings. "However, his high school utilized him in a variety of ways to showcase his skills. That was really appealing to us."

"I wanted to go into my senior year with the recruiting process behind me," he stated. "I wanted to focus on high school football. I knew that was the perfect fit for me and my family, picking State. I knew it was the best decision."

Samuels has proven that he can catch and carry the football... so where will he play for the Wolfpack?

"He's going to play tailback for us when he gets here, but he can also play H-back," said Doeren. "You'll see him as a receiver at times."

"We have a group of veterans coming back so Jaylen's role with be multiple," added Kitchings. "He'll play running back, but we also use a fullback in a variety of situations. It will be a matter of what he can handle mentally when he comes in."

"I'll play wherever," said Samuels. "They said that I'll be all over the field. I'll play special teams, running back, and even receiver. That's one of the reasons I chose State... they are going to use me a lot like how I was used at Mallard Creek.

"I think it's the perfect fit for me. People labeled me a fullback before my senior year but I think I showed that I can do even more than that."

Doeren, who likes to use a power running game, seems intrigued by what Samuels could potentially add in the backfield. The Pack doesn't have a tailback with his size (6-foot-1, 225 pounds) and speed (4.55 40-yard dash) combination.

"To have a guy that is 225-230 pounds that can run the rock and catch it and block for you is a tremendous asset," said Doeren. "[That is] something that we're looking forward to having here.

"The guy makes a lot of plays."

"I'd like to be the power back, but I have to work for it," said Samuels. "There are going to be other guys there working hard for a spot too. I just have to do what I can do and make sure I'm ready to ball out when I get there."

As for Samuels, he's just ready to make his way to Raleigh.

I head up there June 22," said Samuels. "That's when I report, and I'll get started up. I've been working out with my football team, and I ran track this year too.

"I can't wait. It's almost here."

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