The Tight End position in football can be used in many different ways these days. A Tight End can be used in the traditional version playing right up next to the Offensive Tackle which is where I played back in my day. I remember double teaming some Defensive Ends with the Tackle playing next to me and most of the time we drove them downfield and laughed the entire play. But, hey, our offense was the Wishbone formation and about all Tight Ends did was block, so I had to learn to like it.
In today’s game, the traditional Tight End is called the Tight End-Y in the passing game. He either lines up right next to the Offensive Tackle, or he spreads out wide.
There is also the Tight End-H. He is often called just the H Back. The H Back is basically a combination Fullback/Tight End. He lines up all over the place like in the normal Fullback positions,
or off the line of scrimmage just outside the Offensive Tackle, much like a Wingback.
A good example of one might have been recent 1st round draft pick Evan Engram of Ole Miss. The H Back tends to be a little smaller than the standard Tight End, but he is often a little faster as well.
Jaylen Samuels of North Carolina State is another good example. He’s listed only as a 5-11, 225 Tight End during his junior season, but as a freshman he was supposedly 5-11, 240.
The loss of 15 pounds during his junior season might have helped Samuels out with his quickness.
As a freshman in 2014, Samuels caught only 6 passes which were good for 96 yards and a Touchdown. He ran for 143 yards on 15 carries and scored another Touchdown.
But, the guy they called Jay Sam stepped up big as a sophomore in 2015 with 65 receptions which totaled 597 yards and 7 Touchdowns. On the ground, he also took some big steps with 368 yards rushing on 56 attempts and he scored 9 Touchdowns.
In spite of scoring 16 Touchdowns as a sophomore, not a lot of people outside of North Carolina knew much about Jay Sam.
Last season, the Wolfpack of North Carolina State were tougher than most thought. Their defense was solid mostly and they were in most games. They should have beaten Clemson which would have knocked the Tigers out of the playoffs. They always give Florida State fits, particularly at home and they had a chance with the Seminoles before losing 20-24. The only team to blow them out was Louisville midway through the season when the Cardinals were still playing well.
They finished strong with big wins over rival North Carolina and they obliterated Vanderbilt in the Independence Bowl.
Number 28, Jaylen Samuels, switched his number to 1 and he was sometimes the number 1 player on the field as far as talent.
Now, at 225 pounds in 2016, Samuels showed some really good speed and quickness while leading the Wolfpack in receiving with 55 receptions. His catches totaled 565 yards and 7 Touchdowns. He only ran for 189 yards, but he scored 6 more Touchdowns.
Jay Sam broke the Independence Bowl record for receiving Touchdowns with 3. He was voted the Independence Bowl MVP for his performance, so I am thinking Vanderbilt and their fans recognize
just how good Jay Sam really is.
I’ve been writing on this blog for quite a while that if the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Tar Heels of North Carolina were to keep the best in state players at home, they could compete with the best teams nationally. Guys like Todd Gurley and Dexter Lawrence came out of the Tar Heel state and Jaylen Samuels is another one of those top players.
As a high school senior, Jay Sam played at Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. Samuels played Wide Receiver as a junior and he did well with 45 receptions for over 1,000 yards and 12 Touchdowns. But, since he did not play Running Back, the national recognition may not have come his way. As a senior, he was a Running Back and also played some H-Back. He ran for over 1,400 yards averaging right at 13 yards per carry. He also caught 49 passes for 932 yards and 16 more Touchdowns.
He may have unintentionally saved his best performance for last. In the state championship game, Jay Sam ran for 99 yards on only 7 carries and scored 3 Touchdowns. He also caught 5 passes for 114 yards and 2 more 6 pointers to led his team to the state title and a 16-0 record. 5 Touchdowns in the state championship game is beyond impressive.
I have also written about the Running Back class of 2014 many times. With Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Nick Chubb, Christian McCaffrey, Royce Freeman, Sony Michel, D’Onta Foreman and several others, it just might be the best class of all time. McCaffrey was actually listed as an Athlete and so was Jaylen Samuels. But, Samuels was a low rated 3 star and ranked 100th on ESPN’s lists. Christian McCaffrey was rated as the 26th best Athlete in the nation. Recruiting really is an inexact science, or better yet, a crap shoot. Even if it is like rolling dice, the services definitely got Fournette, Cook and Chubb correct as they all panned out, and then some.
Other recruiting services may have been a little more kind to Jaylen Samuels.
Scout.com had Jay Sam rated as the 7th best Fullback, while Rivals.com had him rated as the 2nd best Fullback. NCPreps.com named Samuels North Carolina’s Mr Football 4A.
Samuels is too small to play Tight End in the NFL, but he has the speed, talent and skills to play
Running Back, I do believe. A few teams might want to use him as a Fullback, but he’s too good to just be a blocking back. Jay Sam needs the ball in his hands.
He is extremely fluid while carrying the ball. He slows down and sets up his blockers well and then he explodes through an opening and he often takes the ball the distance.
North Carolina State loves to use him on jet sweeps, getting him the ball often with some running room as the play sets up quickly.
Jay Sam returned for his senior year in 2017 and it should be a good one for him. Wolfpack Quarterback Ryan Finley was just a sophomore last season and he returns for his junior year. Finley’s best weapon is going to be senior Jay Sam.
North Carolina State, with Jaylen Samuels getting the ball quite a bit during a game is going to be a fun team to watch in 2017. They do have some talent returning and Jay Sam is the best of the group.
There will be times in 2017 that Jay Sam from North Carolina State will take our breath away in explosive runs after catches.