Oct. 27, 2003
By Kurt Wisenbaugh, FSU Sports Information
Stanford Samuels knows what is most important in his life. It is not trying to be the best corner in college football. It is not getting two interceptions in the next game. It is not even winning the national championship. It is his four-year old son, Stanford Samuels III. If there is one thing that Stanford loves more than anything, it is his little boy.
Being a football player has helped Samuels develop into a better father and being a father has helped him become a better player on and off the field.
“I think it goes hand in hand,” Samuels said. “They feed each other. Both keep me serious, keep me focused. I have more responsibilities then the average student athlete.”
Samuels is a very busy man. There are many important things in his life. He has earned a bachelor’s degree in social science and is continuing his education. He has football practice four hours a day as well but he always manages to make time for being a good father.
“It’s hard,” Samuels said, “but you have to stay on your time. You have to have time management. At school you have to get everything done and I got to save time for him [Samuels III] for when I get home.”
Being a father has made Samuels appreciate his time in general.
“Every second counts,” he said. “Make use of every second you have.”
“After a loss, I come home, he’ll [Stanford III] tell me what I did wrong. He loves to watch his daddy on TV. But I just have to have a lot of energy, especially dealing with my son.”
In his sixth year at Florida State, after being granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA, Samuels has played in three national title game, including the 2000 Sugar Bowl when the Seminoles won it all. After being hurt and sitting out his first two years at Florida State, Samuels has been a vital part of this defense.
“I don’t know if anyone has worked any harder in the offseason to improve his speed and get ready for his senior year,” defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said. “I think he’s a typical example of what our seniors have tried to do. Number one, they are leading better and they are leading by example instead of fussing at each other. I think they’ve taken on the responsibility of being accountable and holding other people accountable.”
In his time at Florida State, Samuels has been through the ups, been through the downs. He has had some great wins, and had some disappointing losses. But through everything, he still knows how to prioritize his life. He loves the game of football. He loves to win. He wants another national championship ring. But no matter if he wins or loses, he always has one bright part of his life to come home to and he tries not to let what’s happening on the football field affect what’s important at home, even though his biggest critic is often waiting for him at the door.
“A loss doesn’t really affect home that much,” Samuels said. “After a loss, I come home, he’ll [Stanford III] tell me what I did wrong. He loves to watch his daddy on TV. But I just have to have a lot of energy, especially dealing with my son.”
Samuels, a native of Miami, Fla., has grown and matured over the last six years. Because he has been here longer than any other player on the team, he has had the opportunity to develop some great relationships. One of those relationships is with Coach Andrews.
“I’ve come to understand him (Coach Andrews),” Stanford said. “I’ve come to understand the method behind the madness and that really everything he does, he takes it to another level. That’s because in life, things truly are at another level.”
Andrews has nothing but praise for Samuels as well.
“Stanford’s come a long way,” Andrews said. “He’s had to overcome a lot of things. One year he was injured. The next year he hurts his knee in summer practice and he’s out a whole year. But right now, he’s doing the best he can do.”
Coming out of high school, Samuels was one of the top corners in the country and a Florida all-state 6A first-team selection. Despite sitting out his first two years and redshirting because of injuries, Samuels believes he has benefited in the long run from that adversity.
“I think everything that happened, happened for a reason,” he said. “I know I benefited because it let me get everything into perspective. When I first got here, football was like everything and the injuries helped me put everything in perspective, helped me to understand what I’m going through, understand what’s really important.”
He has also gained the respect of his teammates with how he has handled his responsibilities.
“I really have to commend him, fellow corner Rufus Brown said. “He was a full time student, but already got his degree. He’s a full time athlete and a full time father. You have to respect and commend a man like that, having all his priorities straight.”
Samuels credits past FSU corners for helping him develop and mature on and off the field as a player as well as a person, and he believes he can do the same for his young teammates.
“Whatever you get into, put everything into it,” is Samuels’ advice for his young teammates. “If you want to make it into the NFL, it’s there for us, we just have to make it happen.”
Freshman cornerback Antonio Cromartie has already benefited from Samuels’ wisdom.
“Stanford has taught me a lot,” Cromartie said. “I came out last summer and he really helped me out a lot with all the drills and stuff. He was probably the biggest help. He taught me a lot of new stuff. As a freshman, I learned a lot from him, especially during two-a-days.”
Samuels has accomplished many accolades on and off the field. He has been a great leader, a great teammate and player, a great person, and more importantly, a great father. However, the most important thing he wants to be remembered for is being dependable.
“The only thing you could ask for is for someone to count on and that he’ll get the job done and I hope I have been that kind of person,” Samuels said.