Ra'Shaad Samples promoted to assistant head coach
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Ra'Shaad Samples promoted to assistant head coach

Ra'Shaad Samples
Ra'Shaad Samples (Vladimir Cherry - SMU Football)

SMU running backs coach Ra'Shaad Samples has watched his stock rise since joining the staff in 2019. He's gone from coaching assistant to recruiting coordinator to running backs coach.

Add "assistant head coach" to his resume.

SMU Football early Monday afternoon announced that Samples has been promoted to assistant head coach under head coach Sonny Dykes. Samples will still continue coaching running backs, but to add the assistant head coach title is huge for the 26-year-old Dallas product.

Samples agreed to a three-year contract extension back in December. The assistant coaching title is a big deal for a guy who has been one of SMU's most well-known faces on staff.

In a previous interview with The HillTopics, Dykes spoke highly of Samples about his ability to communicate with athletes and build relationships with recruits. It's that level of trust and ability to communicate, along with an incredible work ethic to improve as a coach, that has allowed Samples to see an epic rise in the coaching ranks since 2019.

"He can identify with a lot of these kids because he grew up in Dallas," Dykes said of Samples. "He was a heavily recruited player himself coming out of high school, so he's obviously got a lot of relationships with folks all over Dallas. Recruiting's about relationships, it's about trust, and I think Ra'Shaad's proven that these recruits can trust him.

"Relationships are 100% about communication and trust, and he's got that with these young guys. He works very hard at it. He's done a fantastic job for us and has really been instrumental in recruiting a lot of these guys."

Samples, in 2019, celebrating with running back Xavier Jones.
Samples, in 2019, celebrating with running back Xavier Jones. (Rob Graham)

Samples is a Dallas Skyline graduate who went on to play college football at both Oklahoma State and Houston. As a coach, he was influential in landing several Dallas-area prospects for the 2021 class.

One of those players is another Skyline standout. Safety Isaiah Nwokobia will join the Mustangs for the summer, but he makes it a priority to be one of the frontrunners to speak very highly of Samples -- not only as a coach but as a person.

"The biggest thing for me, Coach Samp comes from where I come from, The Grove," said Nwokobia, who represents the Pleasant Grove area of Dallas. "I know he understands everything, and I can talk to him if I need advice on football or life.

"I'm not afraid to pick up the phone and call him, because he's one of the most genuine guys in the world. He's not going to tell me what I want to hear. He's going to tell me the real. He'll give me the best advice and tell me right from wrong. He'll always keep my best interest in mind."

Samples coached a running backs group in 2020 that included a freshman All-American in Ulysses Bentley IV. He was the first SMU player to earn freshman All-America honors after leading the American Athletic Conference with 913 yards and 11 touchdowns in 10 games. Bentley's 11 touchdowns was an SMU single-season freshman record.