TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Nearly 15 years ago to the day, Stanford Samuels Jr. delivered what might be Florida State’s most famous hit this side of Marvin Jones.
It was Oct. 11, 2003, and Samuels’ fifth-ranked Seminoles were hosting No. 2 Miami in a rain-soaked affair at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Early in the second quarter, UM quarterback Brock Berlin threw to receiver Roscoe Parrish near the left sideline when Samuels made a hit that was brutal in every sense of the word.
“Oh, Parrish is pulverized by Stanford Samuels!” ABC play-by-play man Brad Nessler exclaimed, while FSU’s Gene Deckerhoff described Parrish as being “sawed in two.”
Miami went on to when the game, 22-14, while, according to reports, Parrish went to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital to treat internal bleeding.
And in the crowd that day, sitting on his grandmother’s lap while trying to stay dry, was Samuels’ three-year-old son, Stanford III.
“I was actually asleep in the stands,” said Stanford Samuels III, now a sophomore safety at FSU. “Even with the loud noises, I didn’t wake up. Until my grandmother jumped up out of her seat, and I had to get up.”
Samuels III was a regular on the Florida State practice fields in the early 2000s, while his father was playing for national and ACC titles in the Seminoles’ secondary.
Now he’s a regular in FSU’s starting defense, which on Saturday will look to help lead the current Seminoles to an upset victory at No. 17 Miami.
It’s always personal when FSU and UM get together, and even more so for the Seminoles who hail from South Florida.
That includes both Samuels: dad graduated from prep power Miami Carol City, while Samuels III went to Flanagan High in nearby Pembroke Pines.
Both were among the most recruited defensive backs in their respective signing classes, and both spurned the pressures of home and chose to play college football at Florida State.
For Miami natives, trips back home to play the Hurricanes make for some of the most memorable games of their careers – see the way Dalvin Cook and Devonta Freeman tormented their hometown team in recent years, or the way the likes of Xavier Rhodes, Andre Wadsworth, Devin Bush and Marvin Jones all made their marks on the series.
“It’s going to be the type of game that you remember down the line, when you’re 40 or 50 years old and you’re telling stories to your kids,” Samuels III said.
“You don’t want to be on the losing side of those stories.”
After graduating from FSU following the 2003 season, Samuels Jr. spent a year with the Indianapolis Colts before embarking on a six-year career in the Canadian Football League.
He then spent a few years as a high school coach in South Florida, including a season as Samuels III’s coach at Flanagan.
But when son made the move to Tallahassee, father came along for the ride.
“It’s great having him nearby, always having that voice and someone who has actually been through all this,” Samuels III said. “He knows what’s right, what’s wrong and everything that’s coming.”
While growing up, Samuels III knew his father was a football player, and he knew he played at Florida State.
But it wasn’t until several years after that soggy day in Tallahassee that he learned about the play that made his dad famous.
It was either in elementary or middle school, Samuels III can’t quite remember which, that he and his friends were watching football highlights on YouTube.
“A video came up of somebody hitting someone really hard,” Samuels III said, “and they wanted to know who it was.
“And I saw the name on the back of the jersey. When I saw the video, it all came together.”
Samuels III has since tried to model his game after his father’s, everything from the pad-crunching hits to the highlight-reel interceptions. (Samuels Jr. had six interceptions in his six-year career, while Samuels III sealed FSU’s win at Louisville last week with his third career pick.)
“The aggressive part of my game, that definitely comes from my dad,” Samuels III said. “Most of the technical stuff, too.”
There is, however, at least one area in which Samuels III would like to one-up his pops: His record against Miami.
Thanks to a medical redshirt, Samuels Jr. was a part of six FSU-Miami games between 1998-2003. He finished 2-4, ending his career with four straight losses as the Hurricanes enjoyed a renaissance in the early 2000s.
Samuels III knows how it feels to lose a heartbreaker to UM, having been part of a last-minute, 24-20 setback a year ago. But he also knows he has another crack at them – and another chance to get some bragging rights over his dad – on Saturday.
“I’m trying to do it better,” Samuels III said with a smile. “I’m trying to make sure I leave with a better record against Miami than he did.”
Taggart feels ‘really good’ about Kelly, ‘not sure’ on Dickerson: FSU coach Willie Taggart shed a little light on his offensive line on Thursday, and it sounds like the Seminoles could have another combination upfront on Saturday.
Fifth-year senior Derrick Kelly, who has played guard and tackle during his career, has practiced all week and Taggart said he feels “really good” about Kelly’s chances to play on Saturday.
Kelly suffered an apparent lower body injury three weeks ago at Syracuse and hasn’t played since.
Things aren’t so certain for Dickerson, who hasn’t been seen during the open portions of this week’s practices.
Taggart confirmed Thursday that Dickerson last week aggravated the ankle injury he first sustained in the opener against Virginia Tech.
“Landon, not sure,” Taggart said. “He re-aggravated his ankle again. He’s a tough kid and loves to play and did a good job for us.
“If it was anybody else, I’d probably say, ‘No.’ But when it’s Landon, can’t ever count him out. Especially in a game like this.”
Odds and ends …
Listen in …
Week 5 interviews …
Head coach Willie Taggart
Offensive coordinator Walt Bell
Defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett
DB Stanford Samuels III
DB A.J. Westbrook
QB Deondre Francois
WR Nyqwan Murray
RB Cam Akers