One 2017 recruit you should know is linebacker Sampson Niu. He is a local product and attends Madison High School in San Diego. Last season Madison High School made it to the playoffs, but they were bounced in the first round. Even though Niu and his team made an early exit in the playoffs, he accumulated some accolades over his junior season. He was the defensive player of the year in his conference and on his team, he was first team all league and first team all CIF (which is the bigger conference that Madison plays in), and last but not least he was all-state.
During the aforementioned junior season, Niu racked up great stats. He made 90 total tackles this season and 55% of those tackles were solo. During the season he averaged around nine tacklesâan impressive feat. When asked about his stats he said to me they were "not really the stats I was looking forward to...", but these stats aren't anything to be ashamed about. He has anchored his defense for the past year and is looking to do the same this coming year.
As of right now, Niu is a high three-star recruit, missing a four-star ranking by just two points. He is the 13th ranked inside linebacker in the class and is the 41st best recruit in the state. But by my evaluation, he should be a mid-tier four-star prospect.
Niu only has seven offers in total, but some of them are from academically prestigous schools. The offers are from the academic elite school in Yale, Vanderbilt, and Boston College. There are some other schools that are showing interest in him, USC, UCLA, and Utah, but he has yet to receive offers from these three Pac-12 schools.
When I first mentioned Stanford to Niu, he told me "Stanford?? That's been a dream of mine for as long as I remember." A dream, which may turn into a reality. Niu has talked to defensive coordinator and super recruiter Lance Anderson "many times". Also he told me Anderson has stopped by his school a couple of times. Niu will consider every school who offers him, but the school needs to have "coaches [who] share a great relationship with their players on and off the field...". This is something he feels Stanford and Coach Anderson will be able to give him.
At first glance you see Niu stands out as a 6-1 linebacker which is a little bit taller than normal. His size and strength make him a force to be reckoned with. He has the strength to take on offensive guards when he is blitzing and he could even come off as an outside line backer and take on the offensive tackle. Looking at his highlight tape, one can physically see how far he moves the guards into the pocket. His upper body strength makes him a great rushing linebacker.
Niu's speed is just as explosive as his strength. He is quick to the ball carrier in the backfield and is quick to weasel through the center and the guard. His speed can also be used on the outside. He could potentially come into college and switch to the outside linebacker spot. When asked, he told me: "I see it like this: Where I fit best is where the team needs me...I have trust in the coach to put me in a position that would not only benefit me, but my team as well." He then ended his statement on this note: "I would love to play either inside or outside."
When I watch Niu play, I see a Troy Palamalu type of player. I know Niu is not a stong safety, but their play is eerily similar. They both are all over the field, in the run game and in the pass game. Palamalu was better in the run game with his great instincts and hit stick type tackling. Niu plays the same way, he is instinctive in the run game and he brings the hammer down when there is anyone in his tackling radius. If Niu changes positions to safety, he has the potential to be like an all time great.
Sampson Niu is such an underrated prospect. He holds only six scholarship offers, which is such a shame for someone of his talent. He is passionate about the sport both on and off the field, he is aggressive on the field, his explosive speed allows him to cover more grass than a heard of cow, his strength make ball carriers lose yardage, and his versatility is beyond belief. It would be a great idea for Stanford to snatch him up before he goes down the same path as Palamalu: Becoming a USC Trojan.
Check out Niu's highlights courtesy of Hudl: