Former Senator Sample excited to join Hornets’ secondary as grad transfer

Dover High product Tavarus Sample, left, joins the Hornets after four years at Slippery Rock. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — If it wasn’t for a broken hand, Tavarus Sample’s football career would have ended in 2018.

But that injury made things come full circle for Sample.

The Dover High product is back in town. He received a medical redshirt from the NCAA and is using his final year of eligibility at Delaware State University as a graduate transfer and will play in the secondary for the Hornets.

“To play in front of my hometown, my family and friends, I couldn’t turn that down,” Sample said. “It worked out perfectly.”

Sample joins the Hornets after four years at Slippery Rock University — a Division II school out of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

He graduated from Dover in 2014 and spent one season at Georgia Prep Sports Academy before moving to Slippery Rock for the 2015 football season.

Sample was on pace for a superb senior season before he broke his hand in week two. He was the PSAC West Athlete of the Week after intercepting two passes in Slippery Rock’s season opener.

When he found out about his injury diagnosis, Sample started to think about coming back home.

Tavarus Sample moved from wide receiver to defensive back prior to his junior year at Slippery Rock and that’s when his career really started to take off.

“It popped in my mind then,” Sample said. “I always wanted to compete at a Division I level.”

Sample is one of several graduate transfers DelState has added this offseason.

Brandon Carswell has joined the defensive line from Savannah State. Carswell was an All-MEAC honoree for the Tigers. Christian Johnson is also using an extra year of eligibility as a grad student on the defensive line. He was a starter on the defensive line last season for the Hornets.
Eric Kareem from Tennessee Tech will give the offensive line a boost.

“Any head coach loves to get a grad transfer in,” said DSU coach Rod Milstead. “It can show your football team what you can accomplish in four years.”

Sample originally signed with Slippery Rock as a wide receiver. That was his main position at Dover High as well. He was an All-State First Team wide receiver in 2013 when he helped the Senators to a 9-3 record and a berth in the state semifinals.

But Sample moved to defensive back prior to his junior year at Slippery Rock and that’s when his career really started to take off.

He started in all 11 games as a junior and led Slippery Rock in total tackles and pass breakups. Sample recorded 86 tackles on the season, recovered a pair of fumbles, forced one fumble and had one interception that season.

“I won’t lie, it was pretty tough,” Sample said of the transition. “But once I got a couple of games under my belt, I felt pretty good. I was leading the team in a lot of categories. I had a good junior year and I felt like I took it to another level before I broke my hand.”

Sample was also excited about coming to Delaware State due to how the Hornets finished last season.

Delaware State ended 2018 with three victories in its final four games during Milstead’s first year coaching at his alma mater.

“They’re building a foundation,” Sample said. “The way coach Milstead spoke to me really pulled me in.”

“I’m a hard worker,” he added. “I’ll always give my best no matter what. I’m an older guy but I still want to prove something. Hearing coach Milstead talk to me, he reminds me of myself. He said he always had a chip on his shoulder here and I feel like I have one too going from Division II to Division I.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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