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Better Know a Freshman: Antoine Sampah

DMV product is poised to be Tigers’ next defensive signal caller

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: JAN 02 Under Armour All-America Game Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The DMV area (Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia) has become one of the most talent rich areas for high school football in America. Some of the premier college football institutions have made inroads there like Clemson and Ohio State.

When Ed Orgeron took over LSU he promised the Tigers would be a national brand, and that’s starting to come to fruition in the DMV area. LSU has two commitments in its 2021 class from the DMV area, linebacker Greg Penn III from Maryland and outside linebacker/defensive end Naquan Brown from Virginia; Tristan Leigh, a five-star offensive tackle from Fairfax, Virginia, released his top-five Thursday and your Tigers are not only in the mix for Leigh, but are emerging as favorites to land his commitment.

Thanks to LSU’s success landing players like Antoine Sampah, the Tigers are making good on Orgeron’s promise.

The Story

Sampah’s recruiting process was unusually quiet. A top-100 player in the 247 composite, Sampah only took one official visit his senior year, going to Baton Rouge the week after the SEC Championship. Sampah was visited by Dave Aranda in April of 2019 and Sampah committed later that day. He took one unofficial visit to Alabama in June but seemed to totally shut his recruitment down after that. Per his timeline on 247 he had his unofficial visit to Alabama in June of 2019, on December 13th he officially visited LSU and five days later he signed his Letter of Intent.

The Numbers

Five-stars (98-110 rating): The top 32 players in the country to mirror the 32 first round picks in the NFL Draft. These are 32 players that we believe are the most likely to be drafted in the first round from each recruiting class. The full list of 32 with five-star ratings typically isn’t complete until the final ranking. Any player with a rating of more than 100 is considered a “franchise player” and one that does not come around in every recruiting class.

Four-stars (90-97 rating): These are players that we believe are the most likely to produce college careers that get them drafted. By National Signing Day, this number is typically in the range of 350 prospects, roughly the top 10 percent of prospects in a given class.

Three-stars (80-89 rating): This is where the bulk of college football prospects are found and it incorporates a large range of ability levels, all of whom we consider as possible NFL players long term.

Two-stars (70-79 rating): These are prospects that we consider to be FBS-level players with very limited NFL potential.

247 Ranking: ****

247 Rating: 0.9561

The Film

It’s worth noting that Sampah had surgery to repair a torn ACL in January of 2019. Sampah was only able to play in six games his senior year. He was cleared to play in October, saying “I’m ready to hit to somebody and make a point.”

Well, consider that point made loud and clear. Sampah is the kind of linebacker who when he hits you, you go backwards. He shows good discipline on when to shoot gaps and when to sit back and let plays develop. Sampah also has a good motor, take the play at the 1:07 mark for example: a screen play is going opposite of where he’s drifting, he gets back on his feet, chases the ball carrier down, and forces a fumble in the process. But I think my favorite thing about Sampah’s film is how comfortable he is in all the mayhem happening around him. He can shed blocks and maneuver around traffic with the best of them.

The Future

There’s a little Jacob Phillips feel to Sampah. Phillips wasn’t the side-to-side threat that Devin White or Patrick Queen were, but when Phillips got downhill and made contact the play ended right then and there. That’s what I see in Antoine Sampah’s future.

High End: Multi-year starter, leading tackler, Day Two draft pick

Low End: Significant contributor, but impact is lessened by questionable pass coverage

Realistic: LSU has been churning out linebackers like crazy in recent years. Kwon Alexander, Deion Jones, Duke Riley, Devin White, Patrick Queen, K’Lavon Chaisson, Jacob Phillips have all made it to the league and current linebacker Damone Clark seems poised to join that group next spring. If Clark leaves, I see Sampah assuming the Mike position and being a 100+ tackle guy for two years before becoming a third or fourth round draft pick.