I’ve decided since my little brother is one of the best in the country, he must be doing something right with that training. So I started going with him. —Utah receiver Samson Nacua on training with younger brother Puka
SALT LAKE CITY — Samson Nacua may be older and wiser than his younger brother, Puka, but it was becoming apparent to the Utah receiver that he might need to look to his sibling for the edge he’d like to bring to the field this fall.
“I get it from my coaches a lot that he’s already better than me,” Nacua said, laughing. “And from what I see on film, I’m, like, He might be! But I’ll never admit that to him.”
Nacua said the two brothers, who went to different high schools but play the same position, spent their off-season learning from each other.
After Utah's bowl game in December, Samson and his roommate, cornerback Julian Blackmon, invited Puka — who led Orem to a state title and is one of the state's hottest recruits — to work out with them. They were joined by Tré Strong, who walked on at Utah last year after two seasons at Montana State.
“It’s fun to watch what (Puka) can do against the older guys, especially someone like Julian, who is one of the top corners in the Pac-12," Samson said. "Seeing what my little brother can do, it’s crazy to see, honestly. I think he’s going to be really, really good.”
Samson said his brother has been training with former BYU receiver Ross Apo for several years, and he decided to join him.
“I’ve always watched,” Samson said. “But now I’ve decided since my little brother is one of the best in the country, I’m like, ‘He must be doing something right with that training.’ So I started going with him because I need to get my footwork right like him.”
Last year was Samson Nacua’s first on the field for Utah, and he had some impressive moments. He played in 13 games, caught 29 passes for 294 yards and scored one touchdown. His longest catch was 23 yards. Samson’s athleticism and length make him tough to defend, but he acknowledges he needs to get better if he wants to help Utah on the field in 2018.
“Last year was my first as a redshirt freshman,” he said. “It was a good learning experience. This year, I’m ready to step up my game, and I’m here to be a leader. I’m here to make plays whenever they need me to.”
Samson said this year’s receiving group is already impressive with a lot of improvement still coming.
“I think we’re going to be amazing,” he said. “The guys coming up are doing really well, and the guys returning have stepped up their game.”
Samson said senior Jameson Field, redshirt freshman Bronson Boyd, walk-on BYU transfer Batchlor Johnson, and redshirt freshman Jaylen Dixon are guys who have had impressive spring camps.
He said the fact that these players are working so hard and playing so well inspires him.
“It pushes me, really, to keep improving,” he said. “Jamo is on almost every special team, he’s running with the first team, running with the second team, and he gets tired, but he’s still pushing through it. To see him push really pushes me to keep going no matter if I get tired or not. If he can do it, I can do it for sure.”
In addition to working with his teammates and brother on his footwork and strength, he’s also learning something else from his baby brother: what to eat.
“I trained with Puka, and I ate with him,” said Samson, who has gained more than 15 pounds. “He’s getting so big. He weighs, like, 195 pounds (Samson weighs 189), and everyone is looking at me, like, ‘Where is your weight?’ So while I’ve been training with him, I just eat whatever he eats.”
Samson admits he relied on raw athleticism until last season.
“I didn’t really have anyone to push me throughout my high school career,” he said. “I was really just doing stuff by myself or being lazy. But the one-on-ones against Julian and Tré, they’re better than me, they're great DBs, and it’s pushing me and my little brother to become better at our craft. All of us are just training and trying to make each other better.”