Sam McCall was one of the top prospects in the state, as well as the nation. He had chance to go to any school in the Southeast, including programs that are frequently in the playoff.
But the Lake Gibson (Fla.) star set his sights early on Florida State, backing off a pledge to Florida and committing to the Seminoles in February 2021. Coach Mike Norvell admitted last fall his pitch to recruits is different than what schools like Alabama, Georgia or Clemson are offering. FSU’s is one where the foundation is being built for the future.
“All my life, I’ve been that one kid that’s always playing with a team that basically have no superstars or people,” McCall said. “Basically I’ve been that main person that’s always been that guy. Knowing just to watch Florida State and you saw that one guy, Jermaine (Johnson) from last year, had that one guy who was always working, always been the man. Just to hear from him, watch Coach Norvell, watch how the leaders grow. It was something I could see another team winning. Yeah, winning is all good, but when it’s going bad let’s see how you work. And then the other teams that showed that to me.
“Florida State showed me how when everything is going bad how they’re still working the process. … 5-7 and still come back. Nobody is doubting the team, everybody keeps working and keeps getting better each day. That’s why I chose Florida State.”
The 6-foot, 180-pound McCall did a little bit of everything in high school. He was considered among the top 5 safeties in the nation but also played on offense and was invited to the Under Armour All-America Game. As a junior, McCall grabbed 52 receptions for 903 yards and 10 touchdowns while also recording four interceptions and seven pass breakups.
McCall will begin his FSU career on defense. He said fans are “probably going to see me a lot on special teams” but thinks it would be too much to also get practice reps on offense.
“Just knowing it’s my freshman year, probably just work on one position right now,” McCall said. “Because it’s probably one of the biggest seasons I’m going to have. So probably just working on being a better corner just to work on that. We have a ton of guys that still can play multiple positions, so not trying to show my talents yet. Probably next year, going to show my talents and that I can do all that.”
There is definitely a need for FSU to find help on punt returns and kick returns, and McCall is among the influx of newcomers from high school and college who should elevate the Seminoles on special teams.
“Sam is a tremendous athlete a guy that has really showed his skillset throughout his high school career,” Norvell said in December. “Not only with what he does on the defensive side of the ball, but he is a game changer. He has the ability to play corner and also could play safety for us. Plus he brings a dynamic element to our special teams.”
McCall did not play in the Under Armour game due to an ankle injury but said he has been receiving treatment from the FSU medical staff and is improving.
“When I got here, probably that first week, been in the training room,” McCall said. “They’ve been doing a good job getting me back into stuff. I’ve been getting back to almost 90 percent. Trying get back to that 10 percent of everything. My ankle has been perfect getting back to it. Hopefully getting back to Tour of Duty soon.”
McCall, like many defensive backs, has no shortage of confidence. When asked what skill set he brings to the Seminoles, he expressed enthusiasm about engaging in one-on-one matchups on the practice field.
“What I bring to the table is tall, long, big outside who can run with anybody, any receiver,” McCall said. “Just to have that matchup of tall on tall, big on big, receiver versus corner, I think I bring a lot to the table. Not just having a small corner out there with a big receiver. Been working on my game. Probably the only thing is trying to track down receivers’ eyes. I know when I get my eyes and hips on them, and I’m leaning on them, and the ball is in the air, I just lose the receiver. Just tracking the ball after that. Probably staying on my receiver and all that, that’s probably the biggest thing I’m working on.”