Joe Sampson is a 6-foot, 205-pound defensive back prospect from San Mateo Junior College in Northern California. Out of junior college, he claimed offers from such schools as Oregon, Oregon State and Utah before deciding to sign with BYU in large part due his cousin’s (Brian Logan) recommendation.
The plan was to transfer midyear, which would allow him to compete in spring ball, which is always a huge advantage for any incoming player. But as all too often is the case with junior college transfers, he wasn’t able to get cleared in time.
Since then, he’s been working hard to get his eligibility issues in order and has maintained that he’ll be arriving at BYU in May after his graduation. He confirmed as much with TBS this past week.
“I’m coming as soon as I’m done with this semester of school,” Sampson answered via email. Logan confirmed with TBS last week that his graduation from San Mateo will be on May 27, so fans can expect him to arrive in Provo soon after that date.
So what did Sampson miss out on in not being able to participate in spring ball? Quite a bit would be the answer. He was and still is slated to compete for the starting strong safety position, which was vacated by the graduation of defensive standout Andrew Rich.
As it so happens, the job was all but won by Daniel Sorensen, who was participating in his first practice session following his two-year mission to Costa Rica. Sampson very well could have been that guy had he been here.
He’s obviously frustrated that he wasn’t able to compete with Sorensen and the others this past spring.
“I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to be there, but I believe that everything happens for a reason,” Sampson said.
Ever since he committed, Sampson has been in constant contact with the Cougar coaching staff. He related via email that they’ve been encouraging him and that they’ve helped keep his spirits up despite his setbacks.
He doesn’t have a redshirt year available, so the plan will be to contribute immediately. That isn’t an easy thing to do at any position, but it’s especially difficult at safety. Given his athletic credentials, Sampson hopes to break the mold and show well this fall despite being noticeably behind the others in regards to basic system knowledge.
Along with Daniel Sorensen, Sampson will also have to compete against Jray Galea’i, who will be entering his third fall practice session this coming August. Coaches have mentioned to Sampson that they’ll look and see what he can do at the cornerback position as well upon his arrival.
What is working in Sampson’s favor is the indication of at least some use of a nickel package going forward. Head coach and defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall mentioned during spring camp that he was looking to employ three safeties, perhaps hearkening back to his 3-3-5 days with Sorensen and Galea’i working as his kat safeties flanking the free safety, which looks to be Travis Uale primarily.
The more use of three-safety formations, the better for not only Sampson, but for any safety looking to log significant playing time this coming year. With the type of athletic credentials that attracted the attention of top Pac-10 schools, he should be more than able to compete from a pure athletic standpoint.
How his overall athletic makeup meshes with overall knowledge of BYU’s oft-complex coverage system in allowing him to complete his assignments remains to be seen. Sampson is determined to make up for the time lost and become a solid contributor this next season and beyond.
“I'm extremely excited to finally get to BYU and play for such a competitive program,” he said. “My goals are to become better as a player, a student, and as an overall person. The fans can expect 110 percent from me as a player. I am a strong competitor, I'm not afraid of competition at all. I can't wait to step on the field.”