In a weekend full of defensive standouts in college football, Tulane’s bookends -Cameron Sample (6’3, 280) and Patrick Johnson (6’3, 255)- perhaps gave a preview of things to come for the American Athletic Conference in 2020. They were joined by two Sun Belt defenders who thrived in terms of versatility.
5 Cameron Sample
6’3 280 DE-Senior
Most of the Green Wave’s attention from NFL scouts has been centered on defensive line mate Patrick Johnson. On Saturday, Johnson posted two sacks to take his career total to 16.5. However, Sample’s performance in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game versus South Alabama gave credence to the feeling that this will be his breakout year.
In the past, his lower body extremity issues have limited his development. Transformative weight gains have taken him from a 245-pound high school senior into 280-pound behemoth. The Snellville, Georgia native described the process in an interview with www.nola.com back in August 2019 :
“It was just a little bit of everything — God, genetics and hard work,” he said. “Eating, working out and my trainer back home helped me out by getting me working with NFL guys. I started really taking it seriously and just blossomed.”
While he has played some as an inside-shade defensive end, the team is now using him to stand up and rush (as has it has in the past) with his hand in the dirt. His increased feel of influencing the offensive tackle off of his third step up the field now complements his unique combination of power and hand usage.
For his efforts on Saturday, Sample was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Week (https://tulanegreenwave.com/news/2020/9/14/football-sample-named-american-athletic-conference-defensive-player-of-the-week.aspx).
7 tackles, 2 QB sacks, 3.5 TFLs, FF
94 Jeffrey Gunter
6’4 260 DE/OLB-Junior
Gunter is yet another defensive lineman/outside linebacker who takes a backseat to a teammate. Gunter plays the Bandit position for the Chanticleers. Fellow DE Tarron Jackson actually set a Coastal Carolina record with 10 quarterback sacks in 2019 and also recorded a quarterback hurry and tackle for loss in Saturday night’s 38-23 win versus Kansas.
It was Gunter, however, who made the types of plays on Saturday that will catch the eyes of scouts. In the second quarter, the team’s Bandit linebacker jumped up to tip a pass to himself off the edge to make an athletic grab for an interception. His linear frame allows him to cloud passing lanes.
Back in 2018, Gunter posted five quarterback sacks and 14 tackles for loss for the Chanticleers before transferring to NC State for the 2019 campaign. The Riverside High School product decided to return to Coastal Carolina in 2020 and got off to a fast start this past weekend. HIs fluidity on line games stands out when filtering inside to slither through gaps.
4 tackles, QB sack, 2 TFLs and INT
10 Traveion Webster
5’11 209 LB-Senior
How could a player who participated in a 37-7 blowout loss versus Army make this list?
It’s easy. He was simply the player with the most energy of any of the Warhawks on Saturday afternoon. Up until this season, his career-high in tackles was just 27 (2019). In fact, he had not been a legitimate starter in any of his previous three years on campus.
HIs ferocity stood out in the second quarter of the game on an outstanding kickoff cover down the field. In Saturday’s contest, he flashed an ability to time delayed blitzes, scraped well to handle some of Army’s triple option schemes and overall flashed explosiveness on contact throughout the contest.
11 tackles, QB hit