HOUSTON - The world doesn't yet know AJ Samuel. And he hasn't yet seen the world.
"I’d like to go there to visit,'' the young New Orleans high school QB tells us in an exclusive interview, speaking about Texas the school, and the state, "and just experience something new.”
Someday soon, this so-far-unheralded budding star will get his chance to see ... and to be seen.
Heading into the Elite 11 Houston quarterback camp on March 28, the typical recruits took much of the attention from the media. USC commit Devin Brown, LSU commit Walker Howard, and Texas A&M commit Conner Weigman all had impressive days on the field, earning invites to the Elite 11 Finals in Nashville, as was the expectation.
However, there was a handful of lesser-known prospects that not only impressed but in some cases, stole the show.
One prospect, in particular, was the 2023 New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr quarterback Samuel, who surfaced as perhaps one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks at the entire event.
Standing 5-foot-11 and weighing in at 179 pounds, Samuel, to our eye, shows shades of Russell Wilson in his game, emerging as a clearly polished and impressive passer, while also possessing impressive athleticism and an ability to throw on the run with zip and precision that few of the other prospects possessed.
"It was a great experience,” Samuel told us. “I had fun, of course, I appreciate being out here. In the beginning, I felt like I did good. Listening to coaches, the coaches had great input. Going through it got a little slow, but I think I picked it back up towards the end. Like I said, the coaches helped me with that also, keeping the knowledge in me, telling me to sharpen up my mechanics when I need to, stuff like that.”
Somehow, however, Samuel only carries a pair of offers from Northwestern State and Hawaii, though, as Samuel told us on Sunday, he has been garnering interest from other division one schools as well.
“I have two offers,” Samuel said. “One from Northwestern State in Louisiana, and the other one from Hawaii. Other than that, I’ve been getting a few calls, just from some Smaller D1’s, but just those two official offers. I don't know (which schools) for sure, because they have been talking to my dad, they haven’t been coming to me. But he’s been talking them.”
What Samuel does know, is where he would like to end up — at a top Power Five program such as Texas or Texas A&M, where he can use his immense talent and his leadership skills to take that program to the next level.
“My dream school is Texas A&M, but any school really I’m blessed and grateful to have,” Samuel said. “(Texas) is a great school, too. I’d like to go there to visit, and just experience something new.”
Samuel, we bet, has the skills to succeed at the Power Five level as well, with his skills evident both in his talent and in his intangibles.
In fact, during his sophomore campaign for Edna Carr, Samuel amassed 3,081 yards of total offense and 44 total touchdowns, 37 of which came through the air, all while leading the Cougars to a 10-2 record, a district title, and a Louisiana 4A State Championship appearance.
To Samuel though, his biggest strength isn’t his ability to throw touchdowns, but his ability to lead his teammates.
“I’d say my biggest strength is my leadership,” Samuel said. “Say if we’re down a couple of touchdowns and we need to come back up, I feel like I’ll lead the team well, getting input from the coaches and players, and relaying it to the field.”
Unfortunately, despite two touchdown passes from Samuel in that state title game, his team fell just short of the ultimate prize in a 35-19 loss.
Ever humble, the 16-year-old knows he still has plenty of room to improve - whether that be on the field, where he hopes to lead his team back to the state title game, or off of the field, where he wants to improve his leadership skills even more.
“I have the typical goals,” Samuel said. “Go undefeated… that would be great. Win a state championship. But really just to improve as a person and a player on and off the field.”
Obviously, the ultimate goal for any prospective college football player is to eventually sign on with the school of his choice, and hopefully, one day, move on to the NFL.
However, Samuel still has plenty of time to figure that out, and he plans on sitting down with his family and getting the process started sooner, rather than later.
“The sooner the better,” Samuel said. “But I haven’t thought about it yet. I will be doing that soon, just need to see where it goes.”
Once the offers inevitably start rolling in, and the rising junior begins to soar up the recruiting rankings, more and more Power Five football programs will begin to take notice, and that decision could become a bit more complicated.
And then the world will see AJ Samuel. And AJ Samuel will see the world.
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