Wide Receiver Jermaine Sams has a knack for big plays. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior was the leading receiver last year for St. Paul's, which fields one of the strongest 5A programs in the state right now. Sams, who averaged nearly 23 yards per catch (29-662, seven TDs) last season, is equally dangerous returning kicks.
Opposing teams wisely decided to kick the ball away from Sams much of the time last year and with good reason: Sams racked up nearly 39 yards per return (8-309, one TD) when he touched the football.
"They tried to kick the ball away from me last year, especially towards the end of the season," Sams said. "Our coaches tried to set it up where I could still get the football on returns, but the other teams still managed to kick it away from me."
Sams, who is currently hearing from several schools, received good news recently from SMU.
"I got a verbal offer from SMU," explained Sams. "I have a really good relationship with Coach (Jeff) Reinebold, the wide receivers coach. He had mentioned that the coaches were going to have a meeting the next to decide which players they were going to offer, and then he called me the next day and told me that I had a verbal offer. They're going to come to spring practice and watch me and then they said that they would give me a written offer.
"There's going to be coaches from almost every school in the country at our spring practice. I'm just keeping everything open right now. I don't run track. I'm focused on training for football. We're going to take every practice seriously this year. We're going to be focused and no one will take any plays off. Last year, we showed up in the first half sometimes as a team and then slacked off in the second half."
In addition to SMU, Sams is also hearing from LSU, Alabama, Utah, Miami, South Florida, and Arkansas, and he plans on attending camps at Miami in June and Alabama in July.
Last year, Sams enjoyed one of his best efforts of the season vs. a stout Central of Baton Rouge team. In that game, he caught two passes for 109 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown reception.
Moreover, Sams scored another touchdown in that game on a 99-yard kickoff return. That game, a 28-27 win for St. Paul's, was the only regular-season loss for Central. In a late season game against Destrehan, Sams caught two passes for 132 yards, including an 89-yard touchdown grab.