Warriors pick up speed
By Stephen Tsai
The Hawai'i football team received a "Turbo" boost in its recruiting drive, securing a commitment from a speedy wideout/returner from Florida.
Plant High's Allen "Turbo" Sampson — the most exciting player on the two-time Florida state 5A high school championship team — said: "I know a lot of the people go to Hawai'i for the scenery and the weather, but I fell in love with the program."
Accompanied by his mother, Sampson completed his UH visit Sunday. Yesterday in Tampa, he was making plans for a return trip to paradise.
"I love the coaches and the program and the offense they run," said Sampson, who was recruited by quarterbacks coach Nick Rolovich. "I really like Coach Rolo. He's laid back. He's funny. He's so cool."
By signing his letter of intent with UH tomorrow, Sampson is spurning offers from Toledo, Syracuse, Florida Atlantic and Florida International.
"I think some teams backed off because of his size, but he's a special one," Plant coach Robert Weiner said. "He can do a lot of things with the football."
Sampson, who is 5 feet 8 and 155 pounds, said he can run 40 yards in 4.38 seconds. A scout timed him at 4.39 seconds.
"He's as quick as they come," Weiner said. "When he gets the ball in his hands, as a coach you stop coaching and you become a spectator."
As a senior, Sampson averaged 31.6 yards on kick returns and 14.8 yards on punt returns.
"The greatest plays he's had for us have been at crucial moments," Weiner said. "We've had some games that have swung in the other team's favor. All of a sudden, Allen puts us right back on track. He's been on the team two years, and he's been 27-2 and a two-time state champion. It's probably no mistake that happened with him on our team."
Weiner's best Sampson memory came on a punt return.
"He took the punt and broke to his left," Weiner said. "And about six yards away from the sideline, he planted his foot and turned his head back inside. Three guys went inside (because) of his head movement, then he went back outside. A guy tried to push him out of bounds. He landed on his left foot, and jumped inside the line. He jumped to maintain his balance. He landed on his left foot again, and then scampered 45 yards for the touchdown. That's pretty impressive."
As a junior, Sampson was second in the state with 65 receptions. In 2009, the Panthers switched to more of a running attack. Still, Sampson caught 56 passes for 867 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"He didn't catch as many passes as he did as a junior, but not once did he give a hint that he was dissatisfied," Weiner said. "He's a great leader. In the end, he played a great state championship game."
Sampson transferred to Plant after his sophomore year.
"Usually when that happens, you have friends in one place and enemies in another," Weiner said. "I do not know one person in the world — at our school or the school he came from or any of the schools we play — who does not like Allen Sampson. He's a tremendous person, and a tremendous teammate."
Sampson said he received his nickname from his grandfather.
"He called me 'Turbo' since I was 2," Sampson said. "He said I used to run around the house a lot. He thought I was fast."