When Chris Samuels’s resume first popped up in Ira DeGrood’s inbox, the Osbourn High School athletic director’s first inclination was to ensure he wasn’t dealing with an imposter — or, at the least, a namesake. So he vetted the applicant’s background.
“When I got to the three references of Joe Gibbs, Nick Saban and Dan Snyder, that’s pretty special,” DeGrood said. “Pretty neat.”
The hiring of the former Washington Redskins star as football coach was approved Tuesday evening by the Manassas City School Board, and the 37-year-old met with prospective players Wednesday.
Samuels was the third overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft. The offensive lineman played his entire 10-year career in Washington and was a six-time Pro Bowl selection. At Osbourn, he will replace Sony Hagy, who announced his retirement from teaching and coaching this winter and plans to move to the Seattle area with his wife.
The Eagles finished 3-7 in each of the last two seasons and last made the playoffs in 2011, when they went 7-5. Osbourn won the Virginia AAA state championship in 2006 and returned to the title game in 2008, when they lost to Oscar Smith.
Before Samuels met with underclassmen around 1 p.m. Wednesday, sophomore Anthony Pearson’s only experience with his new coach was secondhand — via past iterations of the Madden NFL video game.
Pearson, the Eagles’ starting quarterback last season, said Samuels discussed his upbringing and overcoming those circumstances to achieve his dream of a professional football career.
Later, Pearson said Samuels pulled him aside and informed him he’s already watched film from last fall, and additionally, that he plans to install a West Coast-style spread offense that incorporates some read-option elements.
And despite a lack of success in recent seasons, getting players to buy in won’t be an issue with Samuels at the helm.
“The kids didn’t really respect the coaches last year, but they’ll respect him, because he’s 6-6, 200-something [pounds],” Pearson said.
DeGrood said Samuels “wants to work in the building,” and Osbourn will find him a position during the school day.
“It will obviously create buzz and excitement,” DeGrood said. “But what was most impressive was his interview, how he talked about our kids at Osbourn. He’s not doing this for the money.”