Dave Doeren was asked on Thursday to point out any players that he believed could contend for ACC honors. After acknowledging established contributors like Jacoby Brissett and Mike Rose, Doeren began to rave about sophomore tight end/fullback Jaylen Samuels.
"I don't know where you'd put him on a list, but he is a really good football player," said Doeren. "I don't know what he is as far as how you would slot a guy but that guy is a really good football player. The stuff he does everyday is fun to watch."
For that to happen, Samuels will need an expanded role. Last year he lined up at tight end, fullback, and H-back, but totaled just 21 touches from scrimmage. Expect over, by a lot, this season.
Why? Well because Samuels is extremely productive with the ball in his hands. As a true freshman he averaged 9.53 yards per carry (15 carries) and 16.0 yards per catch (six catches) while scoring two touchdowns.
"Last year coming in Coach Canada told me what I was going to be doing," said Samuels. "I'd be playing a lot of H-Back, fullback, and tight end type of stuff.
"I know this year my role is going to increase. I feel good going into this year."
An expanded role is why Samuels re-shaped his body in the offseason. He lost nearly 15 pounds add added muscle to his frame.
"I've come a long way," he said. "I'm still getting better. I'm working on my conditioning more. I know I'll be in on a lot of plays so I trimmed down some body fat. I'm down to 225 now and feel like I'm going into this year in good shape."
NC State Strength Coach Jason Veltkamp raved about Samuels prior to fall camp.
"Jaylen Samuels has been very impressive," he said. "He's slimmed down some body fat and increased muscle mass. He's one of the most powerful guys on our football team."
What makes him unique is while he lacks ideal size for the position, he is very fast, has great hands, and is hardly ever tackled by the first defender.
"I've been taught that ever since high school," said Samuels. "My [offensive coordinator] always told me to not let the first guy tackle me. I've always taken that to the road and carried it on. I just always want to score or at least make a big play, get over 10 yards... just make something happen.
"I just run. If a defender is in my face I try to make a move, stiff-arm, whatever... just get around them. Just don't let the first man tackle me. That's all."
Because of his versatility, NC State can use Samuels in a lot of ways. Look for him to even line up in the backfield this season.
"You'll probably see me in the backfield. I'm sure moving forward we'll put some formations in, personnel in, where I'm in the backfield running some plays, running some screens."
Does Samuels think he'll be even more involved in 2015?
"I think they will expand it this year," he said. "We still have a lot of good players around me but coming into this year, I'll probably get the ball more."
More touches for Jaylen Samuels would be really, really good for NC State's offense.