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Jaylen Samuels does it all for NC State

NC State Wolfpack football kicks off 2016

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VIDEO: NC State Wolfpack football is ready to kickoff for the 2016 season.

Jaylen Samuels does so much for N.C. State’s offense that there is some confusion about his actual position.

The 5-11, 225-pound junior from Charlotte took snaps at six different spots last season and turned in one of the most productive seasons in N.C. State history.

“I know what I play,” Samuels said. “That’s what matters.”

And that is?

Allow senior running back Matt Dayes to answer: “Everywhere.”

That’s the easiest way to put it. Samuels, an All-ACC pick at tight end in 2015, took snaps at tight end, H-back, slot receiver, outside receiver, halfback and even a few at quarterback.

His 16 total touchdowns, nine rushing and seven receiving, tied for the second-most in school history and were the second-most in the ACC, on a per game basis, last season.

As much as he did a year ago, there’s a good chance Samuels will be even more involved in the offense, under first-year coordinator Eli Drinkwitz, this season.

That’s fine with Samuels, who would like to add All-American to his already impressive resume.

I plan to be on the field every play.

Jaylen Samuels

“This year is a big year for me,” Samuels said.

It will be easier to find Samuels this season. He will wear No. 1 and he likely will be on the field more often.

As good as Samuels was last year, and he led the team in catches (65) and receiving yards (597), he was only on the field for about half of N.C. State’s offensive plays last season.

“I plan to be on the field every play,” Samuels said.

The lasting image of N.C. State’s 51-28 rain-soaked Belk Bowl loss to Mississippi State was Samuels streaking for a touchdown in a clean white jersey.

Almost everyone else who played, on both sides, had mud or a dirty jersey not Samuels, who scored two touchdowns but only touched the ball four times in the whole game.

“It was kind of strange because it was a dirty game so you would expect me to be dirty,” Samuels said.

Not long after the bowl loss, N.C. State coach Dave Doeren dismissed offensive coordinator Matt Canada and brought in Drinkwitz from Boise State.

Samuels’ usage, or lack thereof, was one of the complaints against Canada, who is now the offensive coordinator at Pittsburgh.

It’s not that Samuels didn’t a chance to be involved in the offense. He ran 56 times for 368 yards and nine touchdowns and caught 65 passes for 597 yards with seven touchdowns.

It was that he spent too much time on the sidelines. In the bowl loss, Samuels was on the field for 42 of the team’s 79 plays. For the season, he played 530 of 953 snaps (55.6 percent). There was only one game, a 24-8 win at Boston College, when Samuels was on the field for more than 75 percent of the snaps.

Samuels did deal with some minor toe and knee injuries, and had knee surgery in the spring. As much as some Wolfpack fans were miffed by Samuels’ usage, he doesn’t have any ill will about how much he did or didn’t get on the field last season.

He laughed when asked about the bowl game. After all, he did have a 48-yard touchdown run and a 1-yard touchdown run in the game.

“It’s all good,” Samuels said. “It’s a new season, new team, new offense, so we’re just ready for this year.”

Just where Drinkwitz will use Samuels remains to be seen. N.C. State’s practice and scrimmages are closed to the media. Drinkwitz learned the spread offense from Auburn coach Gus Malzahn.

The Broncos, who ranked 15th in the country in scoring and total offense, had a 3,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver last season. N.C. State hasn’t done that since 2002.

Boise State also had a slot receiver, Shane Williams-Rhodes, catch 63 passes for 524 yards and rush 13 times for 102 yards. Some of the plays from the slot for Williams-Rhodes will translate to what Samuels can do.

Samuels took more snaps as a slot receiver last season than any other position. A film review of every snap he took in 13 games (including penalty plays), shows he took 191 snaps in the slot, 180 at H-back and 108 at running back.

As for snaps as a pure, end-of-the-line tight end in a three-point stance, Samuels took only four of those on the season, the same number he took at quarterback.

His versatility led to some confusion in the preseason All-ACC vote in Charlotte last month. Clemson’s Jordan Leggett was tabbed as the first-team tight end, the same honor the media gave Samuels at the end of last season.

Samuels had more catches and touchdown catches than Leggett (40 catches, 8 TDs), Virginia Tech’s Bucky Hodges (40 catches, 6 TDs) or Wake Forest’s Cam Serigne (46 catches, 4 TDs), who are considered the ACC’s best, traditional tight ends.

“I didn’t really care, honestly,” Samuels said of the preseason vote.

Most of Samuels’ snaps at running back came after Dayes got hurt in the eighth game of the season. Doeren has said Samuels will continue to play multiple positions but considers him a tight end.

In N.C. State’s offense, there are two tight end spots, the “H” and the “Y.” The “Y” is more of a traditional spot and the one where Cole Cook, who’s 6-6 and 250 pounds, normally lines up.

“The two spots are interchangeable,” Cook said. “We have to be able to play either at any time.”

The tight end position has changed with the proliferation of spread offenses. Jimmy Graham’s not Mark Bavaro but they’re both considered great tight ends. Samuels is pushing the next iteration of the position.

VIDEO: NC State Wolfpack football is ready to kickoff for the 2016 season.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

Getting on the field

Jaylen Samuels ranked second in the ACC in touchdowns but was on the field for 55.6 percent of N.C. State’s offensive snaps last season. Here’s a breakdown of N.C. State’s plays with Samuels’ snaps, percentage, touches and touchdowns.

Team plays

Snaps

Pct.

Touches

TDs

Troy

84

47

55.9

8

3

Eastern Kentucky

78

35

44.8

9

1

at Old Dominion

79

51

64.5

8

2

at South Alabama

68

25

36.7

7

2

Louisville

58

31

53.4

5

1

at Virginia Tech

65

28

43.1

9

0

at Wake Forest

64

39

60.1

11

0

Clemson

68

44

64.7

14

2

at Boston College

60

46

76.7

15

1

at Florida State

80

46

57.5

15

1

Syracuse

81

36

44.4

7

1

UNC

89

60

67.4

9

0

Mississippi State

79

42

53.2

4

2

Total

953

530

55.6

121

16

All-everything

What position does Jaylen Samuels play? He took snaps at six different positions last season. A breakdown of his snaps in each game:

H-back

Slot

RB

O-WR

TE

QB

Troy

31

14

0

2

0

0

Eastern Kentucky

11

9

7

8

0

0

at Old Dominion

21

14

2

14

0

0

at South Alabama

11

11

2

0

1

0

Louisville

12

12

2

2

3

0

at Virginia Tech

15

6

6

1

0

0

at Wake Forest

15

18

5

1

0

0

Clemson

14

19

11

0

0

0

at Boston College

7

9

29

0

0

1

at Florida State

4

16

25

1

0

0

Syracuse

12

11

10

3

0

0

UNC

10

34

6

8

0

2

Mississippi State

17

18

3

3

0

1

Total

180

191

108

43

4

4

Percent of total snaps

34

36

20.4

8.1

0.75

0.75

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