January 19, 2022
"Changing Lives, Improving Communities"

Diamond in the Rough – Samuel Andrews

Samuel Andrews is a 6’2, 270 lb defensive lineman from Ruston High School in Ruston, Louisiana. Studying Samuel’s film, he not only plays defensive tackle, but tight end as well. He has been around football his whole life, and the game is making him a better player on the field and a better person off the field. Samuel’s teammates and himself push each other to do better and work harder every practice and the results has reflected on their past season when Ruston High played in the semifinals. This upcoming senior, defensive lineman gets the job done that is cut out for him, and he does not back down from a challenge – no matter what circumstances surround him.

When did you start playing football? 

I put my first helmet on when I was 8 or 9 year old, but my dad was a football coach when I was growing up. So, I was always around the game. 

What attracted you to the game at such a young age? 

Growing up around football, and I saw what it was like to be playing on Friday nights – playing with the big guys. As I said, when I was little, I just wanted to be in atmosphere and have a chance to play college ball. 

Would you agree that the atmosphere was a reason you committed to playing football?

Yeah, the atmosphere and the thought in my mind like I can possibly have my parents not pay for anything else like college – I could take care of my family. 

You mentioned earlier that your dad coached football when you were younger. Is he still coaching today, or did he retire? 

No ma’am. I was the last person he coached, and I was 11 years old when he stopped coaching. He coached football for about 5 years. He used to coach at Arcadia High. He was the offensive line and defensive line coach when I was little. 

So, speaking of yourself playing football, how would you describe your playing style on the field? 

On the field, I would describe my playing style as I’m always hustling to the ball no matter who my opponent is. Whether they may be ranked or not, I go out there and give it the best that I have. I play with no regrets. I do what I have to do to get the job done. 

You’re a junior right now, and next fall will be your senior season, right? Are you excited for the upcoming season? 

Yes ma’am, I am. 

What are you looking forward to the most when you think about your senior season? 

This year will be my first year playing 5A ball. When I was a freshman and sophomore, I played at Arcadia High. Then I transfer to Ruston High last summer. So, last year, it was a challenge because I wasn’t used to 5A ball. I was used to playing 1A ball, but when you get to 5A ball, there’s a big difference. 

Could you more into detail about that difference between playing 1A and 5A ball? 

The physicality is different. With the workouts in 5A, you have to be a lot stronger. The coaching is harder because you’re playing big boy ball now. I had to train my body, eat better and lean up, and give it all that I have. To me, the biggest difference is the physicality because in 1A ball, I might’ve been the biggest guy on the field. Now, in 5A ball, some cases I may be up there with the bigger guys and sometimes I may be smaller them. 

You? Smaller? Coming from someone who’s under 5’3, you sir are certainly not small. 

Yeah when we played our fourth game of the season, we went down to Archbishop Rummel in Metairie. The whole offensive line combined was 300 plus. 

Wow. That is crazy just trying to picture that in my mind. Speaking of the physicality and mentality surrounding football and playing the game, do you consider football to be harder mentally, physically, or both? 

In my opinion, it’s harder mentally because it challenges you to do a lot. There was one practice – we had an unofficial scrimmage. We played West Monroe and it was my first time stepping on the field with 5A ball. Before the game, I had chills. I was scared at first, but I had to think about it: it’s going to better me because if I want to go to college and play against other college players, I have to be able to compete beyond my level right now. When you get to college, no offensive line, no defensive line is going to be small. So, I just had to put on my big boy shoes.

Physicality, it’s hard too. You have to think about every play – somebody is coming to get after you no matter what it is. Referring back to the mentally statement, conditioning is the hard part. After we played that West Monroe game, the following Monday we had practice and a few of my teammates were late getting up on the field. My coach called us up. He said we had five minutes to go back into the locker room, get back in our work out clothes and tennis shoes. We had to run 200s on the track for like forty minutes, and we were in the dead heat too. It was four in the evening when we did that. That evening was hard, but that helped us out as a team. Some people might think I’m crazy I said, but in my opinion, when we ran those 200s, we got closer as a team. Not only were we running together, but we were encouraging each other like “don’t quit”, “don’t stop”, and “just keep going”. That’s when I think we got closer a team as the year kept going.

Also, spiritually, I just always keep God first. When I put God first, I can do anything. 

Yeah, I totally understand. I really like that – the whole team coming together under pressure and now you all have this deep, unbreakable bond with each other. Now, what goals do you and the team have going forward into your senior season? 

I’ll start with the individual goals. I work out two times every day – during 4th period, which is football period, and after school when I finish track practice. One of my goals is I want to be first team all-district and I want to be all-state. Also, I want to make the decision in my life to sign to a school that feels like home and I can excel and succeed at. Team goals… we had the opportunity last year to go to semi-finals. 

I remember that game, I do. 

And after that game, I was hurt. The next day, that Saturday, I could not move out of my bed. Going back to the game, I know Zachary had 35 points at the end of the first half. They didn’t score anymore in the whole second half. We came back and our quarterback is laying in the end-zone with the ball and the referees just stood there and let 19 seconds run out on the clock. That would have to be my worst high school memory because I feel that we deserved it and we worked too hard all summer and season to get to that point and get robbed like that. I mean, we made some mistakes as a team in the first half and again in the second half. Despite all of the mistakes, we beat adversity and came all the way back. It was just terrible, but as a team, this year, we want that state championship. 

Absolutely, I believe it. That is definitely the goal for any high school football team. Do you have any advice to give to any of the younger players who are interested in potentially having the opportunity to play football in college?  

The advice that I would give them: 

  1. Keep God first. 
  2. To never give up on your dreams. 

There’s going to be people along the way that’s going to try to bring you down –  telling you “you’re not going to be to do this”, “you minus well quit”, or “just stop”. That should be nothing but fuel to the fire. When I first transferred, some people from my old school supported me and some of them were trying to bring me down, but that wasn’t anything but fuel to my fire to get better – push myself harder. I would like to tell them to never give up –  no matter what the circumstance, challenge, or obstacle is – never give up. It’s going to make you better as a man, and as a teammate. I would also like to tell them to stay in the weight room. 

That is some great advice, I like that a lot – I may take that for myself. You mentioned earlier you had a physical injury after the semifinals. Could you go into more detail about that experience as well? 

The injury actually happened earlier on in the season. I forgot what happened exactly, but it was something with my knee. I got treatment for it, before I got my own exercise bar. My dad had me up at 6:30 AM every morning because treatment started at 7 AM at my school. I was in treatment every morning. After workouts during 4th period, I would be in treatment. After practice, I was back in treatment again. It got better, but when East Ascension came to us, the week after that game, during practice, I felt like I wasn’t giving it my all and some people weren’t as well and that’s what got me hurt.

It was the first week of playoffs, when we played Dutchtown, we were out of school that Monday. We still had practice and my coach texted me saying he needed me to see him as soon I got there. I was already in the parking lot. I ate my food and went inside to see him. He told me, as a football coaching staff, they decided to move me to tight end. He was telling me that I wasn’t doing nothing wrong in defensive tackle, but they felt that they could still have me in defensive tackle and have me in tight end with my strength and hustle combined with your playing style. We won the first round of playoffs and went on to win the second round. I felt I played a big role in those game because on the defensive end, the linebackers – we had some pretty good defense, and on our side – the offensive side, we worked hard on getting our opponents out of the way. Our running back, he had some pretty good games too. I just feel like I played a big role and the week we played Zachary; I was giving it my all – I just wanted to get better. Somebody was like 50% around the end though. We went to inside – that’s o-line, d-line, linebackers, and running backs; no receivers and no safeties. In that game, I switching from offense to defense. I was on defense and the dude that was trying to block me, he was messing around, went for my legs, and he put his helmet to my knee. It was hurting. So, I went to the sideline – got it wrapped up. I put some Biofreeze on it, and I played through it, but after that Zachary game, I was in a lot of pain. Not only from the loss of the game, but from the stress on my knee as well. I had to wrap my ankle tapped that game too. I just kept playing through the end of the game. 

I have mad respect for you – being able and willing to not back down and working through the pain. I can feel your passion through everything you spoke about as well. How do you prepare for gamedays? Do you listen to certain music, “hype” your friends up, or any traditions that you take part of? 

On the Thursday nights before gamedays, my dad and I would always go get pizza and we’ll just hang out – talk about the game. Then, when I get home, I would take a shower. I don’t know what it is, but the nights before gamedays, I cannot go to sleep. I don’t know if it’s because I’m so amped up, but I just watch film all night. Sometimes, I’ll ask a couple of my teammates how they feel about the game – talk to them about it.

Now, on gamedays, like in class … I’m serious. The whole day is serious to me. I have a job to go get done. Before games, I listen to a variety of music. I listen to music that gets me amped up. 

Absolutely, I do the same thing too, but like amped up music every day. You’ve been mentioning and bringing up your dad throughout this interview. Do you consider him to be a main role model in your life? 

Yeah. My dad is a big role model in my life. Like when he was in high school, he did something to his leg, and he didn’t do as the doctor said. So, it got infected as he grew older and taller. He ended up having surgery when I was about 10 years old and I was away from my dad for about 3 months. Then, this past football season, he got some bacteria in his leg, and he called me up after school one day. He told me that he was going to give me his car because of car maintenance, but he proceeded to tell me he was going to the hospital. That phone call happened the week of our first game back in the stadium after that tornado that came through last year and my dad wasn’t there. I had to give it all that I had. Fast-forward to December, after the season was over, he had to get a procedure done and it might not seem like a long time, but I was away from my dad for like three weeks and it was long. 

I totally agree with you. That can feel like a long time, especially when you’re going through special circumstances like surgery. 

Yeah, my mom and I are close too, but my parents got a divorce when I was around 6 years old. I talk to mom everyday – at least three or four times a day. When my dad was in the hospital, it was in the same city as my mom. So, my mom would go check on him – bring him some food because he doesn’t eat certain stuff. I would FaceTime them every day. We would talk and joke around, but when he came home, I just felt better. 

Aw, I just love that for y’all. I’m glad he’s doing better now, right? 

Yes ma’am. 

That’s good. I’m glad he’s recovering well. So, last little question: if you could switch lives with any college or NFL player for a day, who would you switch with and why? It can be either/or. 

Even though he’s not position, but he’s on my favorite team. He got hurt this year too. It would have to be Cam Newton. Something about his personality just gets to me. He’s a chill dude and he doesn’t get into a lot of foolishness. He’s always trying to lead his teammates to better things and better games. I just like his personality. 

Would you say your personality is similar to Cam Newton’s personality? 

Yes ma’am, and I like clothes too. I like the way he dresses, and he’s a good player as well.