WHEELERSBURG — One of the more elite special teams weapons in the Southern Ohio Conference, or even Southeastern Ohio, history will be continuing his career at the collegiate level.
Wheelersburg senior Braxton Sammons, a three-time Division V all-Ohioan, will join the Murray State University football team as a preferred walk-on and will redshirt this fall.
The Pirates’ single-season and career leader in field goals, as well as the program’s career leader in punt average, will be joining a Racers’ program that is very familiar with the importance of the special teams unit.
Third-year Murray State head coach Dean Hood, who was instrumental in leading Sammons to becoming a Racer, was previously the special teams coordinator at the University of Kentucky — and spent eight seasons as the head coach at Eastern Kentucky University.
“I met the current head coach at Murray State, Coach (Dean) Hood, when he was the special teams coordinator at the University of Kentucky. That was going into my sophomore year when I started going to bigger camps. I took a game visit during October of last fall and that was my first trip to Murray,” Sammons said. “It’s a lot like here in terms of how people treat you. The comfort aspect is what drew me there initially, and talking the coaches more and more and the head coach having a special teams background was definitely a focal point.”
As Sammons’ career at Wheelersburg progressed, so too did the accolades.
As a sophomore, Sammons made the Division V all-Ohio third team as a placekicker.
A year later, Sammons earned second team all-Ohio honors as a punter — and was named a first-team all-Ohioan in 2021 as a senior.
That was also, as his sophomore campaign, as a kicker.
Sammons was an all-Southeast District Division V first-team selection in all of his last three seasons by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association (OPSWA).
For his career in a Pirates uniform, Sammons was 24-of-38 on field goals — with his career long happening during his sophomore season, with a 45-yard make against Ashland (Ky.) in week three.
‘Burg would go on to win that game 34-33 in overtime.
Sammons set the Wheelersburg single-season field goals record during his senior year with 12 makes.
In a total of 85 career punts, Sammons carried an average of 42 yards a punt — and downed 20 of those 85 inside the opponent’s 20-yard line in 2021.
Wheelersburg coach Rob Woodward discussed Sammons’ impact on all phases of their gameplan during his career.
“Last year, such a weapon. Multiple games we were able to pin teams inside the five-yard line. That limits their playbook and gives us some more chances we can take defensively,” Woodward said. “And offensively, we know we can always kick a field goal when we get in range with Braxton, or punt and establish better field position. He got better and better not just with his kicking, but recognizing the different pressure defenses were putting on him.”
Sammons’ kick that helped send the game versus Ashland into overtime was one that he said stood out as a career highlight.
“Going into that game I hadn’t made a kick at all. Going into that game there was a lot of certainty,” Sammons said. “So to go 6-of-6 in that game, and making that kick was huge, it was a big confidence boost for me because from that game on I knew I had the ability.”
During his senior year, Sammons believes the Pirates’ special team unit was vital to their success in their eight-game winning streak — and a run to the Division V Region 19 final.
“Around midseason when we started to find our identity as a team, that’s whenever our confidence shot up — especially on special teams,”he said. “We made it a goal that we didn’t want anyone to beat us in any aspect of special teams.”
Sammons will enroll at Murray State as an undecided major.
He plans to pursue and engineering degree and will be taking a base engineering class this fall.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved