Hometown Report

Grant’s James Sample enters NFL draft as ‘sleeper’ prospect

Louisville defensive back James Sample runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015.
Louisville defensive back James Sample runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. AP

Nothing motivates an athlete more than doubt.

James Sample is living proof of that football curiosity. A hard-hitting safety his senior season at Grant High School in 2010, Sample landed at Washington, a recruiting coup of sorts for then-Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian.

Sample’s college career was a mixture of promise, pain and rebirth, and now he rates as “a real sleeper” in the NFL draft, according to NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Sample is a real sleeper because he has just one solid season on his college résumé. A shoulder injury initially diagnosed as a deep bruise was actually a torn labrum, requiring surgery following the 2011 season. Sample played just five games in two seasons, leaving Washington after newly hired defensive coaches suggested he move to linebacker.

Sample attended American River College for a year, not playing, and scrambled to find scholarship offers. But he’d fallen too far off the radar with the shoulder a lingering concern. Sample would up playing for Louisville after coach Bobby Petrino received a suggestion from Cort Dennison, a graduate assistant and a 2011 teammate of Sample at Washington.

Sample led Louisville with 90 tackles and had four interceptions, which was enough for the junior to declare for the draft. He is projected to go in the fifth- to seventh-round range.

“I’m excited, and I know a lot of people wonder if I’ll make it,” Sample said. “I will.”

CRC HallRod Beilby, who coached Cosumnes River College to baseball championships in the 1990s before embarking on a career in athletic and school administration at Yuba College, headlines the seventh class of the Cosumnes River College Hall of Fame, to be held Saturday on campus.

Beilby from 1988-95 led CRC to three Bay Valley Conference championships and five playoff berths. His best player was past CRC Hall of Fame inductee Jermaine Dye, who played 14 major-league seasons and was the 2005 World Series MVP with the Chicago White Sox.

Now retired, Beilby in 2012 was inducted into the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Last year, he was inducted into the Northern California Sports Association Hall of Fame in Yuba City.

Former CRC athletes to be inducted Saturday: Benji Garnett, Mark Hunter, Michele Lipelt and Johnny Ware.

Leeper timeCameron Leeper of Grant struck out 10 in 5 1/3 innings to lead the national No. 1 Delta Mustangs of Stockton to an 8-3 win over Cosumnes River on Thursday.

Leeper improved to 12-0 for Delta (32-2), which lost to CRC 8-1 on Tuesday. A freshman left-hander, Leeper leads the state in strikeouts (101 in 842/3 innings) and strikeouts per game at 10.75. CRC (23-12) will also make the playoffs. It hosts Delta on Saturday in a Big 8 Conference regular-season finale.

Vikings on board – Coming off of a 15-14 season, Portland State signed two former Bee All-Metro basketball players to letters of intent. DeSean Parsons of Grant, a 6-7 forward who played two seasons at Salt Lake Community College, will be joined by Isaiah Pineiro of Placer, a 6-4 forward who played one season at Sierra College, averaging 15.4 points and 7.4 rebounds.

Wilfley honored – Former Casa Roble and Cal lineman Harrison Wilfley will be presented with the Henry “Tiny” Bates Award by the Cal Grid Club of Sacramento on Monday at the Lions Gate Hotel, an event that will be attended by Cal coach Sonny Dykes and athletic director Mike Williams and scores of Cal alums from Sacramento.

Wilfley played tight end, defensive end and defensive tackle at Cal. The Bates Award goes to a senior from Northern California who best exemplifies outstanding performance and citizenship on the field and in the classroom.

More Cal Bears – Two area products emerged from Cal spring football drills as starters. Stephen Moore of Elk Grove is a returning starter on the offensive line, and Puka Lopa of Grant is scheduled as a first-year starter at defensive end after enduring injuries his last two seasons.

Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.