The Next Willie Parker?
Packers Add Samkon Gado To Practice Squad
Two weeks ago today, Green’s backup, Najeh Davenport, was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a broken ankle that he sustained Oct. 9 against New Orleans. Tony Fisher and recent street free agent pickup Rashard Lee are the team’s only two healthy running backs. Rookie Samkon Gado is the only running back on the team’s eight-man practice squad.
Chiefs like what they see in rookie back
The Green Bay Packers Monday made a pair of practice squad transactions, releasing running back Bobby Purify and replacing him with Samkon Gado. Ted Thompson, Executive Vice President, General Manager and Director of Football Operations, made the announcement.
Gado, a 5-foot-10, 226-pound running back from Liberty, originally signed as a rookie free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs this past May. Waived near the end of the preseason, he re-joined the Chiefs and spent the season's first month on their practice squad. His last name is pronounced GAH-doh.
A native of Nigeria, Gado played 39 games at Liberty and averaged 6.0 yards on 273 career carries (1,631 yards) with 16 touchdowns, and caught 38 passes for 486 yards and six TDs.
The Kansas City Star
By ELIZABETH MERRILL
The video was sitting somewhere in a pile, lost in the shuffle of the 2005 draft. Truth is, there was nothing remarkable about it. Sam Gado is running. He looks strong and fast. He’s the third-string running back at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
The story could end there, with the video filed in a circular basket, only Gado’s coach is former NFL quarterback Ken Karcher. He’s an old friend of Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders. He’s persistent. In the last phone call, Karcher says something that sticks in Saunders’ head.
“I guarantee you that Sam Gado will bless your life as well as the lives of others in that organization,” he says.
There are nearly 20 rookies in Kansas City for a final week of workouts, but coach Dick Vermeil knows which one is Gado. He’s the one standing outside, in 90-degree heat, smiling.
The undrafted rookie didn’t just make it out of the video scrap heap. Both Vermeil and Saunders say Gado was so impressive during offseason workouts that he has a shot of sticking around past training camp.
“He has exceeded our expectations in every area,” Saunders says.
“He’s just a ball of energy.”
He’s 210 pounds of pep, he’s an honors student who wants to go back to his home in Nigeria and someday be a doctor, but Samkon Gado wants you to know one thing — he wasn’t always this sky-high. Gado never dominated in college. He was supposed to redshirt in 2004 before Liberty’s top two running backs got hurt.
But college production doesn’t always translate to NFL potential, and Karcher says Gado’s best days are still ahead of him. He ran a 4.47 40-yard dash for the Patriots, and is deceptively strong. The Chiefs list him at 5 foot 11 and 210 pounds. Karcher says Gado actually weighs 225.
Gado was nicknamed “The Nigerian Nightmare” in high school after his boyhood idol, Christian Okoye. Karcher says Gado reminds him of a faster, smaller Okoye. But all the praise couldn’t help Gado’s jitters when he packed for Kansas City. He played football at a small high school, then was relegated to backup duty at a Division I-AA college. And now he was going to Kansas City to work out with a team that had Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson.
“That was in the back of my mind,” Gado says. “I mean, if I couldn’t start at Liberty …
“I think the best advice I got was from Coach Karcher. He told me the fact that I came down here, that they expressed interest, means I belong. It would not be in my best interest to go in thinking, ‘Wow, that’s Priest Holmes.’ Don’t get me wrong, the first day I couldn’t believe it that there was Priest Holmes, Tony Gonzalez and Trent Green, people I grew up watching and admiring. But then I had to get over that quickly. Within a matter of minutes.”
Liberty, Gado says, is a Christian school where a football player has three objectives — glorifying God, becoming the best student in the classroom, and, last in the order, excelling at football. He ran for 901 yards and 11 touchdowns on 138 carries as a senior. He also averaged 26.9 yards a kickoff return.
He didn’t always want to play football. Soccer was the sport of choice in Nigeria, and Gado was a midfielder before he moved to the United States at age 9. His buddies played football in the United States, so Gado had to try. He spent a couple of years convincing his dad he would hold up OK despite the physicality of the sport.
In the nights after a long practice, Gado will call Karcher, who’s an expert on hope and longshots. Karcher played behind John Elway in Denver. He says Gado’s in a perfect spot because there’s no pressure on him. He can learn from Holmes and Johnson. He can go to NFL Europe, if necessary, and earn experience.
But Karcher, who recently came to Kansas City to watch Gado work out, knows his pupil will make it in the NFL. He almost guarantees it.
“I’ve played with guys who weren’t as good as him,” he says.
It’s obvious Saunders has a soft spot for Gado. He spent nearly 10 minutes talking about the rookie Wednesday, and at one point said the Chiefs are better off with Gado around this summer.
He isn’t going anywhere. Today marks the last rookie workout, but Gado will stay until just before training camp, when the players are no longer permitted at the practice facility. He doesn’t want to leave anything to chance. He says it’s a win-win situation, but admits he’ll be very disappointed if he doesn’t make it.
“Honestly, wouldn’t you smile if you were here?” he says. “I mean, you get to play football for an occupation. That’s almost ridiculous.”
SAMKON GADO #43
Nigerian native played in 39 games at Liberty University … Rushed 273 times for 1,631 yards (6.0 avg.) with 16 TDs and caught 38 passes for 486 yards (12.8 avg.) with six scores … Added 14 kickoff returns for 306 yards (21.9 avg.) with a TD.
2004: Saw action in nine games … Carried the ball 138 times for a career-high 901 yards (6.5 avg.) with a team-high 11 TDs … Added 12 catches for 95 yards (7.9 avg.) ... Returned 10 kickoffs for 269 yards (26.9 avg.) with a TD and recorded nine special teams tackles.
2003: Appeared in 11 games, rushing 47 times for 337 yards (7.2 avg.) with three TDs and catching 13 passes for 182 yards (14.0 avg.) with three scores … Added two kickoff returns for 26 yards (13.0 avg.).
2002: Played in all 11 games … Carried the ball 36 times for 136 yards (3.8 avg.) with a TD and caught 11 passes for 190 yards (17.3 avg.) with three touchdowns … Also returned one kickoff for 11 yards and recorded eight special teams tackles.
2001: Saw duty in eight games as a true freshman … Rushed 52 times for 257 yards (4.5 avg.) with a TD and added two receptions for 19 yards (9.5 avg.) ... Also had one kickoff return.
Full name: Samkon Kaltho Gado … Single, resides in Lynchburg, Virginia.
High School: A three-year letterwinner at Ben Lippen High School in Columbia, South Carolina.
Edited by Red Apples, 25 October 2005 - 12:58 AM.