Defensive back Sammy Seamster from Ooltewah runs a shuttle during MTSU’s Pro Day for NFL representatives.
Most every opportunity Sammy Seamster has had on a football field has come because he was able to ignore the limitations others tried to set for him and outwork those around him.
Nothing has come easily for the former football and track all-state star at Ooltewah High School, and if he makes his way onto an NFL roster it will be another example of Seamster cashing in on the belief he has in himself and his willingness to work his way into reaching a goal.
Despite his athletic accomplishments -- he led the Chattanooga area in interceptions as an Owls senior and was one of the state's most versatile sprinters -- Seamster wasn't a highly rated football recruit. He signed with Middle Tennessee State University as a two-star prospect after interest from larger programs such as Tennessee and Syracuse cooled by signing day.
He had a solid if not spectacular college career with the Blue Raiders, mostly on special teams before finally starting 10 games as a senior, where he made a career-high 33 tackles and intercepted one pass. But it wasn't until MTSU's pro day, when the 6-foot, 205-pound Seamster's track experience paid off with a blistering 4.44-second 40-yard dash time, that NFL scouts began to take notice.
Although he was told he likely would be taken in the later rounds, as the three-day NFL draft came and went, Seamster again was overlooked, going undrafted. But just as he did after feeling slighted during the college recruiting process, Seamster did his homework to find the place where he believed he'd have the best opportunity to work his way onto the field and make an NFL roster.
"I saw where the Ravens only had four cornerbacks returning and they didn't draft any, so I knew that was my best chance to make it," said Seamster, who is back in Murfreesboro working out and getting ready to return to Baltimore for rookie camp in mid-July. "It's not about what school you played at or what you accomplished in college at this point. If you can play, they'll find you and give you a chance. From there, it's up to you to show you belong and make it.
"I was a little disappointed that I didn't get drafted, but it worked out better for me this way because I got to choose where I would play, and I believe if I keep working at it I can make the team and help them. Once I got there, I wasn't intimidated by the surroundings. I was just ready to compete and show what I can do."
Seamster's size, speed, long arms and work ethic already have been praised by Ravens coaches following rookie minicamp last spring, with head coach John Harbaugh singling him out as a good potential fit in the team's press-coverage style. According to post-practice reports, Seamster's ability to play either safety position or cornerback also helps his chances of earning a roster spot.
Seamster's former Ooltewah teammate, linebacker/defensive end Jacques Smith from the University of Tennessee, also is trying to make an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent with Atlanta. Similar to Seamster, Smith is with a team that is thin at his position, and he was praised by Falcons coaches for his versatility as both a rush end and linebacker capable of dropping into coverage.
"We kept up with each other after minicamp, and I'm sure we will try to once we get back into fall camp," Seamster said. "It would be pretty cool to have two guys from the same [high] school playing in the NFL. I think it would be good to get to go back to Ooltewah and talk to the kids playing there now and let them know you can accomplish anything if you believe in yourself and work for it."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...