With all signs continuing to point to Sonny Dykes being named the next head coach of TCU Football as soon as SMU’s regular season ends Saturday, speculation about the rest of his staff has ramped up over the last few days. For TCU fans who are still not fully on board with the hire, one key to getting them to buy in has been the status of Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs Coach Ra’Shaad Samples, one of the elite recruiters in the game and the man behind much of the marketing that has helped elevate SMU’s status in Dallas and beyond.
Friday, 247 site Pony Stampede reported that Samples was indeed headed west, spurning a raise offered by SMU to keep him on presumptive Dyke’s successor Rhett Lashlee’s staff. Dykes will also reportedly bring along strength and conditioning coach Kaz Kazadi, a two-time S&C Coach of the year who spent time with the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, and Baylor Bears among others before making his way to the Hilltop.
Samples is the big prize here though, and may already be working behind the scenes to rebuild a TCU class that has been demolished since Gary Patterson’s mid-season “parting of the ways”. A rash of decommitments this week is being blamed on Samples by 247, who said “Samples coordinated the mass decommitment wave we watched on Wednesday and for whatever reason, felt that was the way to handle that. He won’t be taking on an OC role at TCU.”
Samples’ stock has risen dramatically over the last few years as he has orchestrated a ridiculous improvement in recruiting rankings annually for the Ponies. Growing up in Dallas and playing high school football at Skyline Dallas — under his father and DFW coaching legend Reginald — Ra’Shaad has his pulse on the DFW metroplex and has leveraged relationships with players and coaches to build a community in his hometown. He understands the importance of local marketing and has helped spur on the local campaigns highlighting recruits in the area.
At just 26 years old and with college playing experience on his resume, Samples is a home run with recruits, especially in state. “Ra’Shaad is one of those guys that just makes an impression on people very quickly,” Dykes told ESPN earlier this year. “He certainly made an impression on me. I was around him for about five minutes and I thought, ‘Man, I want to work with this guy someday.’” Samples has ingrained himself with local players and coaches, holding camps, clinics, and encouraging players to get on campus as often as possible. Those things will translate well across the metroplex with a program that has prided itself on being visible in and around Texas High Schools for the last two decades. He takes pride in building relationships and that authenticity has helped the Ponies out-recruit the Frogs the last two seasons, something that might quickly change if he switches out the Mustang logo for the Horned Frog later this weekend. And while it’s being reported that he won’t hold an OC position at TCU, he’s a coach on the rise in the industry. “He’s an elite-level recruiter,” Dykes said. “But Ra’Shaad works equally as hard at the coaching piece. In a couple of years, you’ll see him as an offensive coordinator and a playcaller, and then as a head coach. He has all the things you want. The ability to communicate, inspire people, he does that very well. He’s got a great football background having been around his dad.”
If Dykes can bring along his best recruiter, TCU fans will have good reason to be excited about the future of the program.