Recruiting Chess Match: Huskies Have Missouri TE on Their Board

Samuel M'Pemba is a 6-foot-4, 230-pound prospect from St. Louis who likes what he's hearing from Washington.
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It's safe to say the University of Washington football program is sharing its reputation for player development to a wider footprint, reaching out to tight-end prospect Samuel M'Pemba in Missouri.

Prepping at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis, M'Pemba was a force on both sides of the ball as a sophomore.

"I just play," he said.  "I don't worry about [stats]."

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound M'Pemba most likely will be a 2023 SI All-American candidate at rush end or tight end, according to Trevor Mueller, Husky Maven recruiting analyst.

"M'Pemba is similar to 2022 commit Anthony Jones — a mismatch at tight end or a quick-twitching edge rusher," Mueller said. "Like Hunter Bryant and Cade Otton, he uses his big mitts to secure the ball in traffic."

Mueller notes that even with M'Pemba's large size, he most likely will get a shot as a pass-catching tight end, given the way that Washington likes to use that position.

Husky tight-ends coach Derham Cato has been addressing those possibilities in steady conversation with M'Pemba.

"I talk with Derham regularly," M'Pemba said.  "He's let me know that Washington is always putting tight ends into the league."

Soccer, rather than football, was M'Pemba's first love, beginning in seventh grade. It shared with him by his father, who grew up playing that sport in Togo in West Africa.

A growth spurt essentially caused the younger M'Pemba to outgrow soccer and switch his sporting allegiance.

"I fell in love with football," he said. "I feel that soccer built somewhat of a foundation for when I got on the football field."

M'Pemba keeps his football future in perspective, knowing that he's still growing and developing both physically and mentally.

"I have a really good work ethic and I feel that I never have enough knowledge of the game," he said.

When M'Pemba is not playing football, he turns to a board game now. He counts himself as a fairly good chess player, noting how it's beneficial it is for his mental health.

He finds the game to be useful in other ways, as well.

"In chess, I'm looking down the road at moves that I need to set up to win," he said.  "I apply that in my route-running strategy for how I can set up defensive backs on something I'm going to use on him later on." 

This is part of the reason he likes the football message from Washington.

"They've shown me how they develop players, but they have a lot of stability in the coaches," he said.  "Those are important factors for me down the road."