LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — The start of the college football season is less than three weeks away for New Mexico State and the Aggies just might be the most excited team in the country. NMSU was one of just three FBS programs (Old Dominion and UConn) not to play single down of football last fall, and the anticipation for 2021 is building in Las Cruces.
Anticipation is an understatement for junior running back O’Maury Samuels, who comes to NMSU as a transfer from Michigan. Samuels played his high school football in New Mexico at Los Lunas and is a former four star recruit. After transferring and sitting out in 2019, Samuels hasn’t played in nearly three years.
“I’m just glad I get to represent this state and be able to represent New Mexico State football,” said Samuels. “I’m excited to get this thing going. I have been waiting a long time and it’s an honor.”
Samuels played in nine games as a freshman with the Wolverines and appeared in seven games the following year in Ann Arbor. He totaled 79 rushing yards on 21 carries in his two years at Michigan, and while he hasn’t been able to play, Samuels has been practicing with the Aggies since the spring of 2019.
“O’Maury [Samuels] brings some unique things into the offense. He has power and speed. Usually running backs are one or the other. He really does have both. He can run downhill, but he has the speed to get around the corner,” said NMSU head coach Doug Martin. “The things we’ve seen from him in practice have been really positive. There’s a reason he went to Michigan out of high school. He can really play.”
Staying ready hasn’t been easy for Samuels. NMSU played two games in the spring and he was held out with a groin injury, mostly as a precaution. At times, he felt like this season would never come, but has never lost sight of the goal.
“I just kept running and getting back into form. Once I got into form, I just worked all all facets of my game. Receiving, blocking, catching, running — a lot of field drills,” said Samuels. “I’ve been waiting for this moment and I’m excited that it’s here.”
Samuels is likely to be the primary back for the Aggies when they open the season at home against Battle of I-10 rival UTEP on Saturday, Aug. 28. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.