With Sean McGuire now in the Canadian Football League, Connor Sampson has taken over the starting quarterback role for the Western Illinois Leathernecks.
A former three-sport letterman in high school, Sampson originally planned to play baseball collegiately in his home state of Michigan.
Hear his unique story through our Moving the Chains Q&A.
Hometown: Belleville, Mich.
High School: Belleville
Besides football, what is a game that you spent the most hours playing?
Baseball, 100 percent. I played from a young age all the way through high school. I played high school baseball and travel baseball in the summers. I’d miss a lot of camp for football because of baseball. I spent my summers playing competitive baseball, and that’s what I thought I was going to do in college, but football came around with an opportunity and I went with it.
What positions did you play?
Short stop, third base and pitcher
What type of pitcher were you? How hard did you throw?
I was fastball-curveball. I was probably around 82-83 (miles per hour).
Did you have any offers to play baseball collegiately?
I had an offer at Eastern Michigan to play third base. But after they got a new coaching staff, the offer was no longer on the table. I had a few D2 offers as well.
How did you decide to then go the football route?
We had a coach come in my senior year from a powerhouse in Detroit from Cass Tech (Jermain Crowell). He had been the defensive coordinator there and came in and took over and our program did a complete 180. He said, ‘Hey, you’ve got a live arm, why don’t you think about football?’ He was really the one who helped me throughout the whole recruiting process.
If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be your narrator?
Let’s go with Morgan Freeman.
Name a food that is delicious but a pain to eat?
I love steak. I love it cooked medium, but sometimes it can be too chewy so it can be hard to eat sometimes, but it’s probably my favorite food.
Your Western bio states that you enjoy ping pong. What do you enjoy about it?
It’s definitely a fast-paced game. It’s back-and-forth 24/7. I love being in those situations making quick decisions. We had one in our basement growing up. I’d always have guys come over and we play all night long.
If Coach Elliott set up a team ping pong tournament, who would be the favorites to win (excluding yourself)?
Nate Erickson and Clint (Ratkovich). Those two are going to battle it out for the championship. Nate’s good at golf and cornhole and all those sports that are more hidden. Clint is just an all-around athlete. Anything he picks up, he’s good at.
Your Western bio also states that your favorite teams are the Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Cavaliers and New England Patriots. You’re from Michigan, why no love for the Lions or Pistons?
I watch the Lions, the Pistons and the Tigers. I try to watch them as much as possible throughout their seasons, but it’s also rough when they’re all having rough seasons. It’s tough, but you still have to watch your hometown teams. I’m a big fan of Tom Brady, so I like to watch him and the Patriots. I was a big fan of LeBron James in Cleveland.
What is a movie that no matter how many times you’ve seen it still makes you laugh?
I could watch Benchwarmers 100 times and laugh every time.