COSTA MESA, California – For all the hard work that comes with becoming a college footballer in a Division I power conference and then drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers in the second round of the 2021 NFL draft, there’s one run of moments that Asante Samuel Jr. refers to as the key to who he is.
That came when he was 14 and his mother, Candace Doe, came back from the doctor after a week of dizziness and announced to her family that she had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Samuel Jr. (known as AJ) was the eldest of nine siblings in a blended family and was about to start freshman football at St. Thomas Aquinas, a major high school football program in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. And Doe rarely missed a game.
“I was scared,” said Doe. ‘That’s all I can think of,’ Please, I have to be here for them. ” ‘
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She had surgery and doctors gave her the good news that the tumor was not cancer and that she would be okay in time. Doe had a lengthy recovery and was unable to play Samuel Jr.’s games until mid-season. to attend. But then she did. And she remained in charge of the family.
Samuel Jr.’s father, Asante Samuel, was a standout cornerback in the NFL, making four Pro Bowls in an 11-year career with the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons – winning two Super Bowls with the Patriots and collecting 51 career interceptions. But it was his mother whose strength Samuel Jr. through college and into the NFL.
“Seeing her overcome that motivates me,” said Samuel Jr. against Seminoles.com. See how strong she is and how she kept the family together. It just helped me. ‘
“He really took it a step further,” Doe said of her son. “I really felt like he became a young man after that experience.”
Do eventually recovered well and went into real estate. Samuel Jr. went to Florida State because of offers from many other college football powers, including Alabama, Miami, LSU, and Ohio State. But he didn’t immediately commit to the Seminoles because he wanted his mother to attend the school first.
“She loved it here,” said Samuel Jr.
As a sophomore for the 2019 Seminoles, Samuel Jr. the only Power 5 defender with 14 pass-breakups and over 45 tackles. In 2020, as a junior, he started eight games before logging out and had 30 tackles, 6 pass break-ups, 3 interceptions, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recovery. He was named All-ACC of the first team.
From there, he was called up in the middle of the second round (No. 47 overall) by the Chargers and became the first member of their draft class to set the terms of his contract, agreeing on Wednesday to a four-year deal that would include little was worth. more than $ 7 million.
Samuel Jr. said his dad was a part of his design process without being overly involved.
“He was there,” he said. “He just let me do my own thing but kept saying, ‘Stay grounded and stay humble.’ ”
Brandon Staley, the New Chargers head coach, was accused of putting together the right kind of secondary for his defense, who topped the NFL last year when Staley was the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams. Samuel Jr. was not rated as highly as Pat Surtain II or Jaycee Horn, first-round cornerbacks who are the sons of former NFL standouts Patrick Surtain and Joe Horn respectively.
But Staley held out. Samuel Jr. was helped by Derwin James, a Florida-based product who has been lobbying the Chargers for weeks to get Samuel Jr.
‘I have to give Derwin props for that. Hopefully the football gods were looking out for us, ”Staley said. “This guy can give you the ball. That’s something we really appreciate … someone who can give you the ball. He’s an excellent open-field tackler. So you put the bloodlines in, and man, you feel. really good at this choice. “
A throwback from mom and dad.
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