WOODBRIDGE, Va. --- Before Antoine Sampah was technically a high school student, Gary Wortham noticed the 2020 linebacker had profound work ethic.
Like most high school head coaches, Wortham requires his players to work out once daily in the summer months leading up to preseason practice. At a convenience to his players and their families, Wortham opens Woodbridge High's weight room both in the morning and in the afternoon for those workouts.
According to Wortham, Sampah, a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder, was his only player to attend both workout sessions.
"His work ethic is second to none and it's now paid off for him," Wortham said. "We thought Don Brown from Michigan was going to be the first to offer. But, we were stunned as all get out at [UNC's] Junior Day when Carolina said, 'Hey, we want him here' and decided to give him that offer."
"I was very surprised like everybody else," Sampah said. "I was not expecting it at all. When I was shaking [Larry Fedora's] hand, he was talking to me, and just says, 'You have an offer.' It was just crazy."
That moment will stick with Sampah throughout his recruitment and beyond.
"You know, I have to show loyalty," Sampah said. "They're a good school. I like them."
Scholarship offers from East Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia Tech soon followed.
"When you put on the tape and you watch Antoine, there's not one clip for any forward momentum runs," Wortham said. "It's either dead stop or your ass is going back -- that's what's intriguing to a lot of college coaches regarding his film."
Following his freshman campaign, Sampah was named second team all-conference.
Sampah's work ethic also extends to the classroom. He maintains a 3.3 grade point average.
In addition to UNC, Sampah has visited East Carolina and Maryland.
"Maryland was nice," Sampah said. "I like the coaches and everything. It was just the way they greeted me and it did feel like home."
Of his scholarship offering schools, Virginia Tech is the only one he has yet to visit. He expects that to change very soon. He also plans to visit LSU, Michigan, Syracuse, and return to UNC for Fedora's Freak Show.
During his first visit to UNC, Sampah watched a spring practice and toured its facilities.
"It was nice there," Sampah said. "They have a nice campus. The weather was nice when we went there. And their practice was nice."
Before receiving an offer from Fedora, Sampah met with John Papuchis, who recruits the DMV for UNC.
"He was just saying how they were watching my film and how they really liked it," Sampah said.