For a lot of reasons, calling games for Carolina football in the fall is incredibly rewarding. I see the best of college athletics in amazing venues. I see the game I love being coached by dedicated, creative people and played by young folks trying to perform at their highest level while attempting to achieve a balanced life with friends and school. I have never stopped being amazed by those who really grow in the process. Those who resist complacency in developing their skills, actually utilize the good coaching they receive all while becoming better people are a rarity and a joy to watch. That is why I can’t wait to watch Deebo Samuel play again this fall.
Through the first three games of the 2017 season, there was no player in the country producing more for his team than Deebo Samuel. The junior wide receiver had 15 catches for 250 yards and three receiving touchdowns to go along with his one rushing. His total value cannot be calculated until you consider his two explosive 97 yard kickoff returns for touchdowns which clearly ignited his teammates. At the time of his injury, he led the Southeastern Conference in touchdowns and was second in all-purpose yards. At the time, he was also the only player in the country who had multiple receiving and kickoff returns for touchdowns as well as one rushing.
After breaking his leg against Kentucky, Deebo fought the isolation and self-pity that can come to athletes in that situation and he worked diligently at his rehabilitation. This was not the junior wide receiver’s first trial with an injury. He has played in just 18 games over the past three seasons mainly due to nagging hamstring problems. He was talked about as a Heisman candidate one week and not on the travel squad the next. All of this has made the six-foot receiver tough and hungry for his senior season.
This is football, however, and there are no guarantees of health and happiness being rewarded to a player showing perseverance and a driving work ethic. But if the football gods shine on Deebo and keep him healthy, no doubt, we are going to be watching something special this fall- maybe the best player in college football.
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