This is the 12th in a series of profiles on the top 15 players on The Detroit News Blue Chip list. Today: No. 4, Detroit East English offensive lineman Tyrone Sampson.
Detroit East English four-star offensive lineman Tyrone Sampson has a big decision to make with Signing Day set for next Wednesday.
Sampson, a 6-foot-3, 315-pound center who earned a spot on The News Dream Team, had originally had things all planned out during his senior year at East English, already committed to Syracuse with the idea of enrolling early to get a jump on the competition.
But, Sampson’s plans changed just prior to early Signing Day last Dec. 20-22 when he de-committed, saying he wanted to take some official visits before making his final decision.
Sampson still plans to take an official visit or two in the upcoming days, but won’t say where. He said Mississippi State, Nebraska and Arizona State are still in the running.
“I haven’t been anywhere yet, but I plan on signing on Signing Day,” Sampson said. “I really don’t know where I’m going, haven’t made a decision yet. I’m going to make a trip, just not sure which one yet.”
One thing’s for sure, Sampson enjoyed his senior year at East English, helping his team reach the PSL championship game and a state playoff appearance after it failed to reach the state playoffs for the first time in 20 years his junior season.
“I think it went great, could have went even better, but I’m comfortable with how it went and proud of my team, the way that we ended it,” said Sampson of East English which finished 9-2, including a postseason win over Grosse Pointe North before a district title game loss to Detroit King.
“My highlights were playing at Wayne State in the season opener (38-29 win over River Rouge) and making it to Ford Field to play for the PSL championship (21-0 loss to King).”
Sampson proved to be valuable for veteran coach Rod Oden, showing the ability to play multiple positions, including his normal center spot.
“Basically, with Coach Oden he wants us to be more valuable to college coaches, that we can play every position on the offensive line and that it’s good to know how to play every position,” said Sampson who played center in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in early January at San Antonio.
“It was a great experience,” said Sampson of playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. “I was blessed to be one of the few student-athletes to have experienced that. The one thing I remember is playing in front of all those people, 41,000 so that was big.”
Oden had high praise for Sampson who was never recruited by Michigan and had Michigan State looking at him to play defensive line, the side of the ball Sampson didn’t want to play on.
“He’s been a four-year starter, started 54 consecutive games and he’s a coach on the field,” said Oden of Sampson. “We couldn’t have got it done without him in our run game and he did a great job on pass protection. He was an extension of me out there, invaluable is what he means to the team.
“I feel he played some of his best football his senior year and I’m not surprised. He’ll continue to grow and develop the next four years wherever he decides to go. The sky’s the limit for him.”
Oden said he will benefit from Sampson’s leadership with East English’s younger players having a great deal of respect for him.
“His leadership was demonstrated and the younger kids watched him work hard and prepare with film and weight training and things like that,” Oden said. “It’s hard sometimes for a 17-year-old to start training his replacement and he was able to do that this year with our younger centers because Tyrone played out of position a lot this year because we were grooming the next man up.
“He played some guard and tackle so that we could get a younger center some reps in meaningful games and so he was able to give a kid advice on what to do and what not to do. I thought he did a great job with that, kind of showed his maturity in training his own replacement.”
BLUE CHIP PROFILES