After an offseason full of pain and uncertainty, Ra'Shaad Samples removed all doubt about his lingering ankle injury with an explosive performance to open his senior season.
Less than six months after fracturing his left fibula, the Dallas Skyline High wideout, who has committed to Oklahoma State, caught 11 passes for 169 yards and four touchdowns in an easy win.
And in the postgame interview with ESPN, Samples let people know about it.
“I'm healthy and I've been healthy,” Samples confidently proclaimed into the camera. “There's always been doubters. People always going to say they don't think I'm going to come back strong, people always going to say I'm never going to be the same. But I got a competitive nature and I'm always out to prove a point and that's what I wanted to do out here tonight.”
Even in that grainy online footage, his competitive hostility burst through. And we shouldn't have expected anything less.
Samples inherited that type of attitude at birth.
His father, Reginald Samples, is a legendary high school coach in Texas. He's led two Dallas powers, Lincoln and, most recently, Skyline, to more than 200 career wins.
And along the way, a young Ra'Shaad was right by his side, learning the game (and its fierce emotions) in a state that ranks high school football just below breathing as far as importance.
“He was always on the sideline, always at practices, always around football,” Reginald recalled. “He loved it.”
But regardless, Reginald refuses to take much credit for his son's rapid ascension in the game, even as the four-star wideout prepares to sign a college scholarship in the next week.
“(Being a coach's son) may have helped the football IQ part,” Reginald said. “As far as his skills, he worked at that on his own. Obviously he was around it, but he was a really hard worker, always pushing himself.”
From a young age, the pressure was there. How could there not be? Ra'Shaad had some athletic sisters but was the only son of one of the region's top football minds. So Ra'Shaad was expected to excel.
“I mean, it's hard for me. He stays on me, and everybody stays on me,” Ra'Shaad said. “I have just have to work extra hard and be as great as I can be.”
So he did. And the hard work paid off.
Despite the ankle injuries, schools lined up for a shot at the 6-foot, 170-pound speedster. Ra'Shaad currently holds more than two dozen Division I offers, including USC, Texas, Ohio State and OU.
But he chose Oklahoma State because of its pass-happy offense and his relationship with the coaches, most notably wideout coach Kasey Dunn.
“It was a family atmosphere. (My dad) liked it a lot. It appealed to all of us,” Ra'Shaad said.
Recently, Kentucky swooped in as a potential suitor, even getting an official visit from Ra'Shaad.
But his father says, as far he knows, “OSU is a done deal.”