The Cowboys coaching staff realized a year ago during fall practice that Samples, despite being one of the fastest players on the team, would benefit from a year of seasoning. At first the former high school All-American didn’t like the idea but he quickly came to realize it was best for all involved.
“You come here and you want to be a part of the team, but you know your time is coming. You know you have to wait, (because) maybe everything doesn’t come as fast as you want it to,” Samples said. “But getting frustrated and all of that is not going to help you. You just have to be patient and wait for your time, and take advantage of it when your time comes.
“It helps going against guys like (first-round NFL draft choice) Justin Gilbert, going against guys like Kevin Peterson and the linebackers we had last year. Going up against those guys every day, every rep, you have no choice but to get better.”
The Cowboys receiving corps is among the deepest positions on an otherwise young and inexperienced team. Jhajuan Seales (39 caches for 571 yards and three touchdowns), David Glidden, Brandon Sheperd and Marcel Ateman saw plenty of action in 2013. Austin Hays and Blake Webb return after missing last season with injuries. C.J. Curry has appeared in nine games the past two seasons.
“I think when you do what you’re supposed to do, as far as being on the field, running your route right, playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played, the ball is going to come to you."
There’s plenty of competition but the 5-11, 178-pound Samples is ready to contribute.
“We have a lot of different receivers who can do a lot of different things. You can take one out, put one it. We have so many guys that can contribute in so many different ways. It’s good when you have that because there is so much competition, it helps push each other and it helps to push yourself,” he said.
Samples is ready to become a receiver that the Cowboys quarterbacks can count on.
“I think when you do what you’re supposed to do, as far as being on the field, running your route right, playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played, the ball is going to come to you,” said Samples, who caught 127 passes for 2,441 yards and 42 touchdowns his final two years at Skyline High School in Dallas.
“The ball is going to be spread out. Your time is going to come, so it’s all about taking advantage of that opportunity when you get the ball thrown your way. We have a lot of receivers but the ball is going to be thrown around and everybody is going to get their chance. It’s all about making that play when you get the ball.”
Samples believes he’s more than ready because of the 12 months improving his body under the direction of Rob Glass and the OSU strength and conditioning staff.
He is now up to nearly 180 pounds, which is nearly 15 more than when he arrived in Stillwater more than a year ago.
“When I got on campus, I saw how much more physical the game was. I didn’t really understand it then but the coaches were explaining it to me, that I had to do some certain things and had to become more physical. It was frustrating at first but the more I got to looking at it and seeing it with an unbiased eye, from a coaches standpoint and the team standpoint, I could see it was beneficial and I could help out the team more if I redshirted,” Samples said.
He has already seen a difference on the practice field.
“I think I’m stronger, bigger, maybe a little bit faster, and really more mature. I went from being a kid that had just turned 18 coming out of high school, but after being in college for a year, seeing everything, going through everything it makes you more mature as a person. It makes you understand things better.
“I’ve added about 15 more pounds, and it makes a big difference. I feel a lot different.”