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Recruiting on the South Plains: JUCO LB Sam Atoe Player Profile

Texas Tech received a late edition to the 2014 recruiting class as linebacker Sam Atoe was released from his letter of intent to play for Sonny Dykes at Cal.


I received a surprise this morning as linebacker Sam Atoe has committed to Texas Tech and will be a part of the 2014 recruiting class. Atoe is a Raider linebacker or safety, depending on the scheme, that played on the same JUCO, College of San Mateo, as Texas Tech's Rika Levi.

Atoe is really a fantastic athlete that has found a home on defense and if you give his highlight video a look, he's making plays as a kickoff returner of all things, so you can see his versatility as a football players. Atoe will be eligible immediately, which means that he'll be battling Austin Stewart and Kenny Williams at the Raider linebacker spot of at possibly an inside linebacker position.

HT/WT: 6-0/205
JUCO: College of San Mateo (San Mateo, CA)
VIDEO: Clip 1 | Clip 2
RECRUITING SERVICES: Rivals 5.4 | Scout | ESPN 73 | 24/7 Sports 82
VTM PROFILE DATE: August 2, 2014
OFFERS | California, Fresno St., Nevada, TCU and Texas Tech

THE PLAYER SPEAKS: Since this happened late last nght (or at least late for me) there's no quotes right now. If we're looking at something from Atoe and what he's about, we'll turn to Cal head football coach Sonny Dykes, who said that Atoe is one of the hardest working football players he has seen:

"Sam was one of the best football players I have seen in this recruiting cycle," Dykes said. "He does it all on special teams and can play a bunch of different positions on defense. He’s an incredibly versatile athlete and very dynamic football player who runs, hits, plays in space and tackles. He has a tremendous work ethic and attitude, and he plays with great passion. He’s going to bring a lot of leadership to our program."

You also need to read this long read about Atoe's journey from unknown high school running back from the San Francisco area to where he is today. Atoe originally committed to play for San Dieogo St., but his grades didn't work out and ended up at the College of San Mateo. Then, Atoe ended up narrowing his college choices to Cal, TCU and Texas Tech, eventually committing to TCU before changing his mind and then flipping to Cal close to signing day. Just as much as Shaquille Davis, a Texas Tech signee of the 2014 class didn't make it, most likely because of grades, this very will could have happened with Atoe at Cal. Sometimes it works out in your favor and sometimes it doesn't.

SCOUTING REPORT: According to Atoe's Cal bio page, he did just about everything for the College of San Mateo and those stats are just from 7 games:

Earned All-NorCal Conference honors as a 2013 sophomore when he posted 41 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss (-42 yards), 3.5 sacks (-23 yards), one pass breakup and one blocked kick, while also returning nine kickoffs for a 29.7 yard average and four kickoffs for a total of 27 yards for a team that won the Bothman Bulldog Bowl, posted a 10-1 record with its lone loss to state champion and unbeaten Butte College.

Yes, Atoe's highlight film is filled with him running free through the line of scrimmage to make a ton of plays behind the line of scrimmage. And kickoffs. I never would have guess that he would have had that sort of speed and explosiveness as Atoe simply just outruns players. And I don't necessarily think that this was a low level of JUCO competition, these guys are pretty good athletes.

Defensively, you don't get a lot of technique from Atoe from the film other than he's really hitting his gaps and we might see the result of having a guy like Rika Levi sitting in front of him an taking up a ton of space.

But that speed is something that I just didn't expect and if that translates to what Texas Tech is going to do defensively, this is pretty significant and a perfect spot for the Raider linebacker spot.

Sam, welcome to Texas Tech and Git Your Guns Up!