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Deebo Samuel Proves He’s One of Game’s Best

By BJ Bennett
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Every time Deebo Samuel steps onto the field, he's changing the game.

Entering this season, South Carolina junior Deebo Samuel already had a reputation for being a dynamic, versatile talent. A year ago, he caught 59 passes, rushed for six touchdowns and scored on a 100-yard kickoff return. After a breathtaking performance in the Gamecocks' dramatic 35-28 victory over North Carolina State, it's now time Samuel is talked about as the one of the nation's best players.

It didn't take Samuel long to make a statement; he returned the opening kickoff of the season 97 yards for a touchdown, moving so fast that he, quite literally, reached the endzone before the television broadcast even switched on. Samuel's score couldn't have been better-scripted, immediately swinging momentum in South Carolina's favor and putting the pressure squarely on the home-state Wolfpack. In what proved to be a clash that came down to the final snap from scrimmage, the game's first play was absolutely crucial.

With both teams settling into an offensive rhythm, Samuel was also the go-to receiver. Game knotted at 14 a piece, quarterback Jake Bentley connected with Samuel for a six-yard touchdown on a slant where the wideout cut right into the middle of the field. Though the contest was barely 20 minutes old, Samuel had already scored two different ways. 

Early in the third quarter, with the game tied 21-21, it was Samuel, again, who came through with a highlight-reel touchdown. After Bentley escaped oncoming pressure, he found Samuel sprinting across the endzone for a showcase 39-yard score. The hook-up was the beginning of a dominating third quarter for the Gamecocks, one where they held on for an important win after building a 14-point lead. 

Samuel finished with five receptions for 82 yards, 97 kickoff return yards and a five-yard rush. Most importantly, it was three-touchdown day for Samuel; each time he scored, it gave South Carolina the lead.

Consider Samuel's confidence firmly in place. In addition to his display on Saturday, Samuel, in his final game of last season, caught a record 14 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown, adding a rushing score. Samuel and Bentley clearly have a strong rapport. Furthermore, every time Samuel steps onto the field, he's changing the game.

South Carolina showed notable improvement in a key week one triumph. Samuel showed college football something, too.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports