Class 8A regional final | Miramar at Palm Beach Gardens

Linebacker Ryan Samuels is heart and soul of Miramar defense

 

Middle linebacker Ryan Samuels, a team captain, anchors a Miramar defense that is one of the state’s best.

 
Miramar's Ryan Samuels has recorded 103 tackles, four fumbles and three interceptions.
Miramar's Ryan Samuels has recorded 103 tackles, four fumbles and three interceptions.
Al Diaz / Miami Herald Staff

mnavarro@MiamiHerald.com

Miramar middle linebacker and captain Ryan Samuels has an impressive resume.

He leads Broward County in tackles, owns a 5.4 GPA that ranks 10th in his class, and has Ivy League programs Harvard, Dartmouth and Yale all interested in being a part of his future.

Miramar coach Damon Cogdell is stunned more big-time college programs — including the University of Miami — aren't on Samuels.

“He’s a phenomenal kid,” Cogdell said. “You never hear him curse. It’s yes sir or no sir. I’ve told colleges coaches who have come in here you can sleep on that kid if you want to, but he’s going to make it big one day.”

Cogdell has known Samuels and his family for years. Cogdell was a freshman at Miramar when Ryan's mom Jennifer was a senior and cheerleading captain in 1991. He welcomed Samuels to Miramar with open arms when he signed up to become a part of the school's International Baccalaureate program.

Although his mother worried that her son might not ever get on the field for football team coming off a state championship in 2009, Samuels has exceeded everyone's expectations at Miramar. Last year in his first full varsity season he racked up 84 tackles, two forced fumbles and two sacks.

This year, after being selected by his teammates as captain, he's recorded 103 tackles, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, three interceptions and three defensive touchdowns.

The Patriots (12-0) play at Palm Beach Gardens Friday in a Class 8A regional final and two wins away from a trip back to the state finals in Orlando. It would be Miramar's third time in the last five years to the title game. Samuels played on special teams the last time Miramar got to the title game in 2011 and lost to Tampa Plant.

“I would say the thing I'm most thankful for this year besides my family is Coach Cogdell and my Patriot family,” said Samuels, who is the heart and soul of a Miramar defense allowing only 6.9 points a game this season.

Samuels, voted runner-up for Homecoming King this year, calls it a privilege to be Miramar's captain.

“When I first came over I was a little worried if they would accept me. The first person I met on the team was [University of Miami cornerback] Tracy Howard. First thing he said was ‘They're going to love you and treat you like family.’ And they have.”

Although he runs just a 4.7 in the 40-yard dash, Cogdell said what Samuels lacks in speed he makes up for in strength (300-pound bench, 300-pound power clean, 505-pound squat), effort and smarts. Samuels is always the first player at practice and the last to leave teammates say, and he tutors any teammate who needs help with homework or a test.

When former teammate Isaiah Laurencin collapsed and died at an offseason conditioning workout in July 2011 (he had sickle cell traits), Samuels said he created a pamphlet for proper hydration techniques and handed it out to every sports team at Miramar.

Academically, Samuels actually finished high school math in the ninth grade and passed two college-level courses as a sophomore and junior. In addition to being a part of the National Honor Society, Samuels serves as treasurer on student government.

Samuels said his dream outside of playing in the NFL one day would be a “sports manager or somebody who deals with the numbers and finance of a franchise.”

Read more Broward High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

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