The University of Missouri football program has a proud history of outstanding teams and high-caliber players over the years. Add another one to the list of alltime great Tigers, as senior DE Michael Sam (Hitchcock, Texas) has been named a Walter Camp Football Foundation First-Team All-American, for his stellar play in 2013. Sam becomes the 33rd First-Team All-American in school history, the seventh at Mizzou for Head Coach Gary Pinkel, and the school’s first defensive selection since former great Justin Smith in 2000.
Sam ranked among the most disruptive defensive players in the nation this year, and his play was a key factor in Mizzou’s surge into the top-10. He led the Southeastern Conference in both quarterback sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (18.0), ranking in the top-10 nationally in those categories. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press recently, and was also a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Lombardi Award and the Hendricks Award. He has 45 tackles in 13 games this season, including nine quarterback pressures, two pass break ups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, which he returned 21 yards for a touchdown in a win at 7th-ranked Georgia in October.
“Wow, what a great honor, I’m really grateful to be selected and for our team to be recognized like this,” said Sam. “It’s been a really rewarding season, especially after what we went through a year ago, and I feel like this validates all of the hard work we put in and all of the sacrifices we made as a team. My name is on the award, but that wouldn’t happen without everyone else pulling in the same direction together, and I want to thank all of my teammates and coaches for helping push me and for their support,” he said. Sam will be receiving his Parks, Recreation and Tourism degree this Saturday.
“We couldn’t be more proud of Michael,” said Head Coach Gary Pinkel. “He’s a walking example of a `never-say-quit’ attitude; he’s the kind of player you want others to emulate when they see him on film and how relentless he is. I also think the positive energy he brings to the team has been contagious, he’s helped others elevate their play this year, and that’s been really important for our team,” he said.
Sam becomes the seventh First-Team All-American at Mizzou under Pinkel. The previous list includes: Martin Rucker, TE (2007), Jeremy Maclin, All-Purpose (2007, 2008), Chase Coffman, TE (2008), Danario Alexander, WR (2009), Grant Ressel, PK (2009) and Michael Egnew, TE (2010).