BEAVERTON, OR -- It's been a spring and summer full of rehab for 2013 Dallas (TX) Skyline wide receiver Ra'Shaad Samples after fracturing his fibula at the Fort Worth NFTC back in March, but it all got a little better on Saturday when he announced his commitment to Oklahoma State at The Opening.
Samples had set his announcement date for the Nike-sponsored event held at the company's world headquarters back in May, weeks after earning his invitation due to a strong performance before his unfortunate injury. At the same time, Samples had also revealed his top six of Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, and USC.
In the days before his announcement, it appeared that Texas A&M and Oklahoma State were his frontrunners, but Samples opted for the Cowboys over the Aggies. He'll join a talented 2013 receiving class for Mike Gundy and his team that includes Tyler (TX) John Tyler's Fred Ross and Wylie (TX) East's Marcell Ateman.
After making his announcement on ESPNU, Samples spoke with SB Nation about why he chose the Cowboys over so many other schools.
"When I went down there, I talked to coach Gundy for a long time and he just talked to me about different things. He's a great man and being able to play for that guy is amazing," said the playmaking wide receiver. "They have a great offensive coordinator and the receivers coach is amazing, coach Casey Dunn, he recruited me really hard. When I went down there, the players made me feel wanted, so I just loved it."
The offense run by Mike Gundy was also a major selling point.
"I like the scheme -- it's not just short routes, it's deep routes and the intermediate passing game, so I feel like it's the closest to what Mike Leach did when he was at Texas Tech and Tech and Oklahoma State were the teams to do it the best, so it came down to those two."
Samples also spoke about the receivers he'll be joining in Stillwater.
"I don't know Fred Ross, but I've heard great things about him and I grew up with Marcell, so that's my boy. His dad and my dad are really tight -- he'll probably be my roommate, so being with him and those guys will be great."
Surprisingly enough, Samples' old friend didn't actively try to recruit him, in part because Samples would always joke with him and say that he was going to USC. So when Samples told him the same thing about Oklahoma State, Ateman didn't think his long-time friend was serious.
When it came time to really be serious, though, Samples opted to join his old friend.
A consensus four-star prospect by the services, Samples held around 30 offers from programs around the country prior to his pledge.
At 6-0 and 170 pounds and with a reported 40 time of 4.5 seconds, Samples doesn't have overwhelming measurables and benefited last season from playing with dynamic Texas A&M signee Thomas Johnson, but he does have a knack for getting open, consistently getting open deep when defenders fail to get into their backpedal quickly, and that could be a great fit for Oklahoma State's wide-open passing attack.
With two leg injuries in the last seasons and a slight frame, Samples may have to work hard in the weight room over the next several years to stay durable enough in college, but he did come back faster and stronger from his original injury, showing the resolve to overcome his setback, which he called more of a "pause" shortly after it happened.
Combine proven high school success with serious resolve and Samples has the tools to complement outside receivers like Ross and Ateman and give opponents some trouble defending him in the slot.