Talk about a growth spurt. Junior defensive end Samuel Same was 5’9 after his eighth-grade year. He is now listed as 6’5 this season and has started to make a significant impact on the football field.
Same has been playing tackle football since his third-grade year and is the first football player in his family. It took some convincing to get Same onto the football field. He credited current Derby cornerbacks coach Eric Hendrick as the person that helped him get into football.
“My family came from Cameroon, and my parents both played basketball and volleyball,” Same said. “… My mom was a little skeptical about football just because of the hitting, but coach Hendrick really assured her that I would be safer hitting than some of the other kids, so I would be alright. I have always been a pretty large kid, so I think that helped seal the deal.”
Derby was not an unfamiliar place for Same as he had been attending the Derby junior football camp since he was in first grade, where he met some of his current teammates.
Same enrolled at Derby for his freshman year, and even though the athletics are a huge draw, it was the academics that was the biggest interest for the move.
“The reason I came to Derby was more for academics,” Same said. “Derby allowed me to pick the schedule that I wanted where I would have had to do a rigorous program at Wichita East, which would be difficult to do football and basketball at the same time.”
Same has had success on the basketball court and spends his spring and summer competing for MENTALITY by Michael Watson, a club basketball team based in Kansas City.
It may sound like a grueling schedule, but Same has found some balance between the two sports that allows him to lock in and focus on football in the fall.
“In the summer, it is somewhat manageable because I go from football in the morning to Derby basketball training. After that, I will go do my club basketball training, and then I’ll go to Kansas City for tournaments,” Same said. “… But in the fall, it is strictly football.”
On the football field, Same has gained a lot of experience at the defensive end as it has been his primary position for his entire football career. Same is starting to get some college attention from football coaches.
On Oct. 5, Same announced via Twitter that he received an offer from Kansas football. It was certainly the first of many – both on the field and the court – for the junior.
“The attention has been great; it is exciting,” Same said. “When I was growing up, I was a big basketball kid, so I never really thought football was a direction that I would go, but I am thankful that I have this opportunity.”
The defensive line has played well in the first five games this season and has shown that Derby football is more than just the potent offense.
“I feel like as a unit, we work hard every day, and we always work to push each other to make sure we are doing as well as we can,” Same said. “It is a big family on the defensive line, and we all really want each other to succeed, and I think that is what helps us play well together.”
According to Same, the defensive front doesn’t feel like it gets overlooked because the unit has a solid vision of its responsibilities.
“I feel like as a unit, we know what our job is, and if the whole team is winning, we are all doing good,” Same said. “So I don’t think we get overlooked.”
This Friday, Same will get a chance to put pressure on Maize quarterback Avery Johnson, who was one of his teammates growing up. Like many matchups between friends, there has been some trash-talking leading up to the contest.
“We have been talking trash a little bit, but that is always how it goes, but it’s all love at the end of the day,” Same said. “We are each trying to win the game, but if I get a couple of licks, I’d be happy for sure.”