- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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Despite leading all Big 12 quarterbacks in rushing, Sams lost his share of the quarterback snaps to Jake Waters late in the season.
To get back on the field, Sams requested a position change to receiver, but the transition came slow during the spring. That and the desire to play somewhere closer to his family in Slidell, La., prompted him to transfer.
In an interview with ESPN.com, Sams went into detail about all the events that led to his ultimate decision to transfer from K-State:
When did you first think transferring might be possibility for you?
Sams: Probably around the fourth practice of spring ball. I was just was talking to my grandmother at home. I had a close aunt pass. She was close to me. I was talking to my grandmother on the phone, and she was telling me, maybe come back home to be closer to us so she could watch me play. Maybe that would be an option. And my situation at Kansas State wasn’t always the best, as far as playing time and getting on the field, so that really helped me make my decision.
It was your idea to try switching from quarterback to receiver. What was coach Bill Snyder’s reaction when you first brought it up?
Sams: It was during winter conditioning when we first got back from the bowl game, I told him I wanted to play receiver to get more playing time, to be on the field. And he didn’t agree with it at first. He said if I wanted to switch to any position, I should switch to running back because of the way I ran the ball. He didn’t want me to move from quarterback, but I just wanted to play more. But he just wanted me to be happy, so he allowed me to go to receiver.
Why did you want to go to receiver instead of running back, considering there wasn’t anybody with much experience there coming back at running back?
Sams: Yeah, I just feel like I’m 6-2, 210 on a good day. I wouldn’t have been able to make it at running back. Not that I’m scared or anything. But I don’t feel my body is not built to take that kind of pounding for a whole game.
Sure. Although in the Baylor game you did have 30 carries for 199 yards.
Sams: Yeah, my shoulder didn’t appreciate that, either.
So that was one-time thing, not something you could’ve done week in, week out?
Sams: Right. At the end of the day, I’m not scared. I’m a competitor. But just being realistic, week and week out it wouldn’t have been a good thing.
So did the move to receiver just not go as fast as you’d hoped?
Sams: Yeah, you could say that. I was catching the ball, I knew all my plays, I knew the schemes, I knew my assignments. But just the fundamentals of keeping your hips low, actually real receiver-like stuff, I wasn’t grasping it yet. Sometimes I could catch (wide receiver coach Andre Coleman) yelling at the other guys for busting a play or busting an assignment. But meanwhile I’m the only one getting yelled out for my technique and my fundamentals. So I was completely behind the ball at receiver.
When did you actually make the decision you wanted to transfer?
Sams: I was telling myself the whole spring ball, I was just gonna wait to see how the spring game goes. But I was pretty sure I wanted to leave the week of the spring game when I saw I (was third team) on the depth chart. Which again was a fair assessment. I’m not pointing fingers at anybody. I was just really that far behind at receiver. That’s when I called my grandmother, and I told her, I’m thinking about what you told me, and I might want to come home and play at a lower level just to be closer to you guys. And she said, just follow your heart. And deep down, my heart was at quarterback. So that’s when I really made my decision, and I was like, I’m going to go home, play at a smaller school and that way I don’t have to sit out, and I can still be close to my family.
Do you have any idea where you might be headed?
Sams: Right now I’m talking to Southeastern (Louisiana). I’ve gotten some calls from Nicholls State and McNeese State. But I haven’t set anything up with those guys. I want to get home and talk to my family face-to-face first.
Did you consider, because Jake is going to a senior this year, that you’d have a chance to be the starting quarterback at K-State in 2015?
Sams: Yeah, that was just too much time. It would’ve been nice to be quarterback my senior year, if that would’ve been the way it worked out. But I just had to make a move now for really my family. I hope nobody sees me as selfish. Because that’s the last thought I have on my mind. I just really wanted to be back close to my grandmother. I had never heard her talk to me that way before. It really sounded like she needed me. And she’s been there for me from Day 1. And it was just a no-brainier once I realized I wasn’t where I need to be as a receiver. I didn’t want to go through the same thing again. Because Jake earned that spot at quarterback. It really was a fair thing.
When did you break the news to Coach Snyder?
Sams: I told him right after the spring game. We had a meeting in his office. I built up the courage to tell him, because that’s when I realized that was the decision I really wanted to make. When I found the heart to walk in his office and tell him. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life because of the relationship I’ve got with Coach. He told me he would do everything to make me change my mind. I respect him for that.
Even though you’re leaving, you’ve been inside the program for a long time. Do you think this team can do some damage this season?
Sams: Definitely man. Jake has his moxie with the system now. He changed plays regularly when I was at receiver. He’s just more comfortable. I think Deante Burton is going to step up big time. He’s a big target. (Tyler) Lockett, of course, is just Lockett. He’s special. Curry Sexton, this is his senior year, so I feel like he’s about to step to the plate major. I was thinking about all this as I was leaving, man. I still have great confidence in what this team is going to do next year, and I can’t wait to be a fan myself, wherever I go.