Cleared for takeoff? Curtis Samuel has a good feeling about 2019

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SPARTANBURG – Curtis Samuel has heard the talk.

The explosive wide receiver knows everyone is expecting big things from him in his third season.

"You know, I see all the talk that's going on and I don't really pay too much attention, but I hear it," Samuel said after reporting to training camp at Wofford College. "I just feel like I'm a great player, and I have to go out and show and prove it."

Last year, when Samuel posted 39 receptions for 494 yards and five touchdowns, he showed just how dynamic he can be. It was a major step forward after his rookie season in 2017 was severely limited by injures.

In a strange way, it's all gone according to plan.

"I feel like my life is going the same way all the time," Samuel said. "Like, in high school – first year I got hurt, second year I played a little bit, third year I took off. College – first year I got hurt, second year I got to play a little bit, third year I took off."

Once again, Samuel appears poised to take off in Year Three.

"As long as I'm out there I'm going to make things happen," Samuel said. "The main thing with me is staying healthy. If I can do that, best believe something is going to happen."

There's a confidence to Samuel that wasn't there during his first two training camps. After spending so much time at running back during his college career at Ohio State, the wide receiver position didn't always come naturally. But repetition has led to an increased comfort level.

And now Samuel is able to start refining his own unique style.

"The more I do something, my body gets used to it and it becomes natural to me and I can start adding my own flavor," Samuel said. "When you first start doing something, you do it robotically and that's how it was my first year coming in. Now I feel like I'm able to incorporate my own things and also do what the coaches want me to do."

Samuel was one of Carolina's standout performers during spring practices and he carried that momentum into the offseason.

He worked on getting faster (as crazy as that sounds for a guy who runs a 4.31 40-yard dash) and he appears to have added some more bulk to his frame.

"I feel like a bunch of people have been telling me I got bigger, but I don't know!" Samuel said. "That's kind of scary, right?"

In the best possible way.

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