Samuel M'Pemba-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
5-star ATH Samuel M'Pemba, a St. Louis native, plays for IMG Academy. He is a priority Class of 2023 recruit for UGA.
Courtesy photo

Samuel M’Pemba: Nation’s No. 2 ATH shares glowing review of his first UGA visit, will be back soon

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep has the latest with 5-star EDGE Samuel M’Pemba. He ranks as the nation’s No. 2 ATH and the No. 16 overall prospect for 2023 on the 247Sports Composite ratings.

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Once upon a time, there was a talented athlete from St. Louis with strong family roots in West Africa. He visited the University of Georgia for the first time on an April recruiting trip.

He was seen as one of the nation’s finest athletes. Coming off a season in which he played as much at tight end and receiver as he did on defense. This was for the most talented high school football team in America.

His name was Samuel, but his friends call him Sam. Everyone took his picture while he wore an eye-catching brown hat. Some wondered if he was also an expert fisherman. The Bulldogs saw their chances rise even higher after that visit.

For the sake of accuracy, that “once upon a time” stuff up above just doesn’t fit. Because something like that has never happened before.

Until this past weekend at G-Day.

Sam M’Pemba (Em-PEMBA) wore a slick brown Bass Pro Shops hat and an old-school UGA sweatshirt. He smiled a lot, learned a lot and will be back in Athens soon.

The featured image above this story is powerful and memorable. Because we’ve never seen a recruiting trip photo like the one M’Pemba took wearing UGA gear draped in the national flag of Togo. That’s where his family hails from. (There is likely a great story there about how savvy the UGA staff was to have that flag accessible for said photoshoot, but that’s a tale for another time.)

His heritage means a great deal. He said “his family is everything” to him.

“I play this game for others,” Sam M’Pemba said. “To help others. There are a lot of people that need a lot of help especially back in Africa. Not where I am from. I’m from St. Louis. But where my family is originally from. They need a lot of help. I plan to give them a lot of help through football.”

He’s got a lot of dreams.

“I want to start a business,” he said. “I want to start a lot of businesses. A restaurant. Some more stuff.”

He’s been inspired by the “I AM ATHLETE” podcast by Brandon Marshall.

“I want to do something like that,” he said. “But then at the same time, I just want to be the best person I can be. I feel that there is a lot more than I can do than just play football. I have a lot more potential in me that just football. To be the best version of myself.”

Georgia first-year OLBs coach Chidera Uzo-Diribe has seen some of that potential in him for a while now. Like three coaching stops ago back at Kansas. Uzo-Diribe went from there to SMU for a season, then very briefly to TCU before joining the Bulldogs in January.

“I’ve been talking to him for a long time,” M’Pemba said of Uzo-Diribe. “That’s my boy. I’ve been talking to him since he was in Kansas in my freshman year of high school. I’ve built up a really good relationship with ‘Coach Uzo’ and ‘Coach Chid’ so him going to Georgia definitely boosted up Georgia again.”

M’Pemba said he was one of the first guys Uzo-Diribe called when he was driving up to Athens.

“He told me about it when it was happening,” he said.

Uzo-Diribe told him what he can do for the ‘Dawgs.

“They honestly say just be me and I can shine,” M’Pemba said. “They don’t give me too many comparisons. They put a lot of outside linebackers into the league. They talk about a lot of first-round guys. The Travons. The JDs. The Devont’es. They are just talking to me about all those guys. Just tell me how I can develop, be one of the best players in their league and be the best version of myself.”

“They consistently put outside linebackers in the league day-in and day-out.”

5-star ATH Samuel M'Pemba, a St. Louis native, plays for IMG Academy. He is a priority Class of 2023 recruit for UGA. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

Sam M’Pemba: Will Georgia get an official visit?

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound rising senior had never been to UGA before.

“I was real high on Georgia,” he said. “I’ve always been high on Georgia. I’ve just never really talked about Georgia a lot. Just coming out of Georgia this weekend, they honestly just got even higher. Nothing really changed crazy. Just being able to see Coach Smart and the environment was good.”

“Seeing the other 2023 guys out there and how they feel about Georgia. I feel like Georgia honestly just got higher on my list. It was a really cool visit.”

It must have gone pretty well for M’Pemba to share this nugget after the trip.

“They are going to get an official visit,” M’Pemba said. “For sure. Yeah, I am going to take an official visit to Georgia.”

He will graduate this December from IMG Academy and take that Bass Pro Shops hat with him somehwere in January. M’Pemba played a lot at tight end and receiver and then some on the defensive end.

He wanted to embrace the challenge that is there every day at IMG Academy. The Ascenders typically have 25-35 players on their roster every fall with major offers from the SEC.

“I came here to develop and get better every single day,” M’Pemba said of that move. “Going against better guys here every day. Being here you are going to get better by going against the best guys every day. Just always developing your craft.”

He said that he plans to play outside linebacker from now on.

“I like it better and that’s where my best future is at,” he said. “I’ve learned you can make more money in football playing outside linebacker than at tight end.”

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5-star ATH Samuel M'Pemba, a St. Louis native, plays for IMG Academy. He is a priority Class of 2023 recruit for UGA.
Courtesy photo, Dawgnation

Samuel M’Pemba: What is he looking for in a college fit?

He’s thinking of taking that official visit in June or during the fall season. He’ll have to see about that. Those options are both in play for him at this time.

As far as a commitment timeline, he said he might do it during the season. He’s not trying to rush it.

“I’m just taking my time,” he said. “Whenever I feel the time is right, then I will make the decision.”

M’Pemba was actually the highest-rated 2023 prospect at G-Day on Saturday. What is he looking for in the perfect fit for a school?

“I’m definitely looking for a program full of guys who want to win,” he said. “I don’t want a program that works and thinks they won’t win the natty this year. Where everybody is just trying to get to the league. I want to be around plenty of guys who feel they are on the best team in the country. Like it is at Georgia.”

“Then I want everybody to be cool. I want to have great relationships. You don’t want anybody to be lying to you. I want to be coached hard and play in front of a great atmosphere with great fans. You don’t want to be at away games and have nobody at your games. It is really just the environment honestly and having an at-home feeling at a school. That’s what I am looking for.”

M’Pemba said he’s working through about eight schools on a private list. He did make it clear that Miami, Notre Dame, Penn State and Oregon are all doing an excellent job recruiting him. Those all seems to have established strong relationships and made him feel like a priority.

What does he like best about Georgia?

“The development and the players there and the relationships there,” he said. “Definitely the relationships at Georgia. At Georgia, I probably have the best relationship with their coaching staff. Because they are all cool. Just real regular people but they are honest. Do you know? I can ask them a question about another school and they will tell me honestly about them. But they are never hating on another school. Never. They understand why I am looking at other schools but then come back to what Georgia can offer. Everyday. Definitely have some great relationships at Georgia.”

“One of the best coaching staff relationships I have got is definitely at Georgia.”

M’Pemba said he is in some form contact with at least two to three members of the Georgia staff daily.

“They have been recruiting me hard,” M’Pemba said. “I am very grateful for it, for sure.”

Check out some of his HUDL film below. These clips are from his sophomore year back at LaDue High in St. Louis.

He is a very versatile player. That offensive side of the ball athleticism will allow him to play a lot of positions on the defensive side.

M’Pemba could play all over the defensive front and stay on the field for all three downs in the SEC.

Have you subscribed to the DawgNation YouTube channel yet? If so, you will be able to see special 1-on-1 content with UGA names like Jake Fromm, Gunner Stockon and Brock Vandagriff here.

5-star ATH Samuel M'Pemba, a St. Louis native, plays for IMG Academy. He is a priority Class of 2023 recruit for UGA. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

How did Georgia football impress Sam M’Pemba over the weekend?

M’Pemba had a few strong thoughts on the above topic.

“The environment created by the fans,” he said. “That was impressive. Seeing that many people come out for a spring game. I asked all the players questions and stuff. I asked all the players who were there questions and stuff. Just talking to them. Seeing how they feel. How they hang out after football is done for the day. What they do. How they chill. I was really just observing everything with it being my first time. Just trying to learn everything and take it as much as I could.”

“Everything was great, though. For sure.”

The players at UGA told them that the staff is real. The coaches are going to coach you. They will be on him hard.

“What they say is what you are going to get,” M’Pemba recapped. “Just continue to work every week. Everybody is going to get their chance.”

He said that he just needed to see Athens. If he didn’t make the trip to Athens over the weekend, he said the Bulldogs were still going to be high on his list. He was just able to fill in some of the blanks he had about the program with the visit.

“But going up there and checking them out, it definitely helped them,” he said.

His answer to the best part of the trip was very detailed.

“Hanging with the staff but just honestly being around the whole campus the entire day,” M’Pemba said. “Being able to take everything in. Being around the people that are going to be at Georgia when I am up there. The entire staff. The recruiting staff. The coaches. Everybody. They all showed love. They are real great people. When I talk to my family about the trip, I would probably talk about all of that first.”

When he posted some of the images he got from his photoshoot at UGA, he captioned them on Instagram with the phrase “HOME” on that post. Except the “o” in that phrase was replaced with a ‘Dawg emoji.

Time will tell if the talented young man with family roots in Togo will one day call Athens just that.

5-star ATH Samuel M'Pemba, a St. Louis native, plays for IMG Academy. He is a priority Class of 2023 recruit for UGA.
Courtesy photo, Dawgnation
5-star ATH Samuel M'Pemba, a St. Louis native, plays for IMG Academy. He is a priority Class of 2023 recruit for UGA.
Courtesy photo, Dawgnation

SENTELL’S INTEL

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