South Carolina’s “Swiss Army Knife” of the NFL

Deebo Samuel, an upcoming superstar, started out in Spartanburg County

Dev Patel, Sports Co-Editor

Deebo Samuel is an NFL wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, who has outplayed many other receivers through his versatility on the field. This versatility on the field has led to Samuel being described as a “swiss army knife” because of his ability to catch passes from deep and run the ball. This season, Samuel has scored 14 touchdowns on top of the 77 receptions he hauled in for 1,405 yards and his 59 rushing attempts for 365 yards.  

Samuel was drafted as the 36th pick in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft and regarded as a forthcoming top 5 receiver in the NFL. However, before this Samuel played football for his hometown team Chapman High School in Inman, South Carolina, and the University of South Carolina. Mark Hodge, the current head coach of Spartanburg High School’s football team, was fortunate enough to mentor Samuel in his high school career and still stays in contact with him. 

“I took the head coach position at Chapman at the end of Deebo’s sophomore year. Deebo’s special because he is extremely athletic yet can play multiple positions. He had great vision, speed, balance, and strength. He was well rounded because not only did he understand the game, he also did well in school. What Deebo understands and what we strive to teach at Spartanburg High School is that the elite are the smartest and the most qualified. Personally, I love the accomplishments of Deebo, but I feel like he is a son of mine. We talk regularly, and he is kind and caring with my children, respectful to my wife and truly just a family man. I’m tremendously proud of how he is playing, but I am more proud of the way he carries himself at the highest level. I am just really excited and proud that the rest of the world gets to see his true talent,” Hodge said. 

In his senior year of high school, Samuel was ranked 838 nationally as a three-star recruit with nine division one offers. Players such as Christian McCaffery, Myles Garrett and Dalvin Cook were individuals who were ranked higher than him, however Samuel still decided to further his game with the Gamecocks.  

He had a five-year run with the University of South Carolina, where he was able to win numerous accolades, such as being “First-Team All-America” and “First-Team SEC” in 2018, while also overcoming a severe broken leg injury. His reliability as a deep-threat catcher allowed him to have a great impact on the University of South Carolina football program with 148 receptions for 2,076 yard and 16 touchdowns. 

During the college football season, Felix McAninch (11) enjoys going down to Columbia to rep the Gamecocks in their games. 

I’ve never personally met Deebo before, but I got to watch him multiple times when he played at South Carolina. He was one of the most electrifying players to watch, and I think it’s great that he’s doing so well in the NFL. Being a big South Carolina fan definitely makes him one of my favorite players in the NFL today,” McAninch said. 

Although Samuel is still making his mark in the NFL, he is constantly able to go out on the field and represent upstate South Carolina. His growth and success as a player have paved a path for many high school athletes. Samuel continues to stick to his roots and motivate himself through the support of his state. 

J.D Cash (11) currently plays on the varsity football team at Spartanburg High School under Coach Hodge and enjoys watching Samuel play often.  

“Deebo is the only player in the league doing the things that he is doing. Nobody else is playing the running back or wide receiver position at the same time and doing it at the highest level the way that he is. I think it is also remarkable that he has a connection to Coach Hodge and the Upstate,” Cash said.