Stronger, faster Samuel ready for return

BY DANNY KELLY danny@theitem.com
Posted 8/31/18

COLUMBIA - After being sidelined for most of last season with a broken leg in the team's third game against Kentucky, standout South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel is ready to step back on the gridiron this Saturday against Coastal Carolina at …

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Stronger, faster Samuel ready for return

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COLUMBIA - After being sidelined for most of last season with a broken leg in the team's third game against Kentucky, standout South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel is ready to step back on the gridiron this Saturday against Coastal Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium.

"I'm really ready to get back out there; it's been 11 months," Samuel said on Tuesday at a press conference at Williams-Brice Stadium. "I got stronger and faster. I had more time to develop over this past summer."

Through 2 games of the 2017 season, Samuel had 15 receptions for 250 yards with a long of 68 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, Samuel carried the ball twice for 30 yards and a touchdown.

And, of course, Samuel returned two kickoffs for touchdowns as well. That small sampling did enough to earn him spots on preseason All-America teams.

Samuel felt right back at home the first time he got hit in fall practice.

"When I first got tackled (by teammate Steven Montac), I was like 'All right, I'm back now, I'm ready to play'," Samuel said.

Junior starting quarterback Jake Bentley said Samuel has "not at all" been held back this offseason.

"He looks like himself," Bentley said.

Junior wide receiver Bryan Edwards agrees.

"Deebo is the same Deebo," he said.

Samuel has also been limiting his distractions.

"Coach (Bryan) McClendon keeps me off social media as much as he can; he didn't want me to get caught up in all the rankings, what people got me projected, this, that and the third," he said. "That's why I deactivated my Twitter and Facebook and not gotten into all that."

Samuel can sense that his teammates are ready for the season to get started.

"I feel it more in the locker room," he said. "Guys have been waiting on this day for about a year now. Everybody's getting ready to get back out there and play."

However, Samuel said he hasn't really felt what the atmosphere on campus is like because he only has one class - retail management. Samuel is on track to graduate in December.

When asked if he feels like he has to prove anything this season, Samuel said he doesn't "feel any pressure about people saying, 'Are you going to try to do what you did last year?'

"I'm just going to got out there and play the game," he said.

Head coach Will Muschamp has been using phrases such as "So what, now what?" and "all gas, no brakes" to motivate the team to do better.

" 'So what, now what?' is really like a mentality of if you mess up this play, you can't let it affect another play," Samuel said, "And "All gas, no brakes," I mean we just put the pedal to the floor and just keep going, pushing each other as a team."

One of the biggest challenges for Samuel has been getting back into "football shape".

"I think that's been one of the main things, Coach Muschamp and B-Mac (McClendon) have been pushing me to get back in shape, as I was last year," he said.