The Wolfpacker

September 2015

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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30 ■ THE WOLFPACKER unbelievable stiff arm," Faulkner listed. "It's not like he's overly fast, which he does have some good speed. It's not like he's overly elusive, which he can make guys miss and run through tackles. He's special. He can catch the ball, has good hands, can block, do everything. For us, that creates matchup problems because he can play just about anywhere. He can come out of the huddle and line up anywhere. "I haven't put a finger on it other than the fact that he's strong and can do those type of things." Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Canada said that Samuels "is just one of those unique tal- ents." "There are times there is no reason he should get 10 yards," Canada said. "People just don't tackle him. If you look at his high school stats, he had a touchdown per 1.5 touches or some silly stat, whatever it was. "He is just that kind of guy. He catches the ball well and is a natural football player." Samuels has a few thoughts of his own on the subject. For starters, the stiff arm is something that was instilled in him in high school at Mallard Creek. "We had this technique how to stiff-arm," he remembered. "I just got better and better at it each year." He also credits his strength, particularly in his lower body, for creating mismatches in the defen- sive secondary. However, a bigger reason he feels for his success is advice from his former offensive coordinator at Mallard Creek, Aaron Brand. Brand's creed to his players was: don't let the first guy tackle you. It may seem obvi- ous to some or cliché to others, but Samu- els took it to heart. It is typically his first thought when he gets a touch. "If a defender is in my face, I just try to make a move or a stiff arm, try to get around him; don't let the first guy tackle me," he said. A Bigger Role Samuels may not be defined by position more so than what he is, which as Doeren described is a football player. That comes across clear during a con- versation with Samuels. He says there are no elaborate visions across the field when he touches the football. Instead, he said, "I just run; that's all I do." He is not one to analyze situations on the fly, trusting his instincts instead and play- ing with what he called a swagger. "If I think too much, I mess up," he noted. "So I just go out there and ball out." What NC State coaches have found is that Samuels is a playmaker. They may not be able to pinpoint why or how he has those skills, but they fully plan to utilize them more frequently this fall. "People say, 'what position does he play?' He plays offense," Faulkner stated. "He can do everything on a football field. We are going to try to continue to find ways to give him the ball. "Everybody says, 'I wish Jaylen would get more touches.' We do, too. That's a good problem to have. We spent the offsea- son trying to find ways to do that." To that end, Samuels focused this sum- mer on getting in the best shape he could be. Although listed on the roster at 236 pounds, Samuels said he is closer to 225 pounds this fall and has trimmed down body fat in an effort to be in maximum condition. NC State has yet to put in packages for him to carry the ball out of the backfield, but Samuels is both preparing and hoping for that possibility. "I love running back; I love the position I play, too," he said. "Just in a position to make a play, that's very exciting." Faulkner took it a step forward, saying he was "super excited" about Samuels' prospects this fall. Canada may have been more understated, but the point was clear: Samuels is going to have a bigger role in an offense searching for playmakers to compliment fifth-year senior quarterback Jacoby Brissett and the stable of run- ning backs led by Thornton and junior Matt Dayes. "We'll continue to get the foot- ball to him in multiple ways and enjoy his productivity," Canada said. ■ During his senior year at Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, Samuels found the end zone every 2.9 times he touched the ball en route to a single-season Mecklenburg County-record 55 touchdowns. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

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