No matter what obstacles Trevor Samson faces, he seems to find a way to persevere.
Whether it was at Clovis West High or Fresno City College, or for the past three years as he made the transition from walk-on scout team kicker to a starter at Brigham Young.
Or even after he was born with biliary atresia. It is a life-threatening condition in infants, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, in which the bile ducts have abnormal openings.
At just 10 months, he underwent a liver transplant.
“Doctor told us, ‘There’s this new procedure for liver-related donor and we would like to evaluate you and would you be interested?’ There was no hesitation at all,” said Trevor’s dad, Kelly. “My wife and I looked at each other and looked at the doctor and said sign us up. Let’s go.”
During a surgery in the Bay Area, doctors took 20 percent of mom Pennie’s liver.
I think any mother who is in the same situation would do the same thing. Very heart wrenching to see him sick.
Pennie Samson on her son, Trevor, who needed a liver transplant before age 1
“You feel like it’s not happening to you,” Pennie said. “Then you start talking to the nurses and you feel like it’s not real. But when you see your son go through so much, so many blood draws, so many scans and so much. He was so sick. He was totally yellow and green. It was just unbelievable. I was like, what are we waiting for?
“Let’s get the test going and get this done because I want my son to be healthy. I think any mother who is in the same situation would do the same thing. Very heart wrenching to see him sick.”
Today, the 5-foot-11, 177-pound Samson said he gets checked twice a year by a medical team in Stanford. Once a month, blood is drawn and every day he takes six or seven pills.
“Always keeping an eye on me,” Samson said. “Making sure I’m OK and I’m safe. Truly blessed and I’ve been healthy.”
So healthy that Samson is one of the key members on a Cougars squad that is 7-3 entering Saturday’s home game against Fresno State. And to think there was a time when doctors said Samson should never play the sport, even at the youth level.
Kelly and Pennie, nonetheless, encouraged their son to “continue to do what I love to do.”
Initially, he took up soccer, but as a high school sophomore he was “recruited” by friends to try out as a kicker for the Golden Eagles.
“As a mom you want to be a protector,” Pennie said. “But we also wanted him to live life as normal as possible. We told him just give it a try. He just fell in love with it.”
Doctors had warned Samson to avoid contact sports. Samson countered that all he would be doing is kicking.
After executing “three or four kickoffs,” coaches told him he had made the team and a door had opened to a college future.
“A couple of months after, I realized you can get a scholarship for kicking a football,” Samson said. “That’s when I started dedicating my time and learning more about it and I went to camp. It’s been a roller-coaster but worth it, that’s for sure.”
Samson didn’t draw much Division I interest coming out of Clovis West. He said he was being recruited by Fresno State but received no formal offer. He continued to plow ahead in life, spending two years at Fresno City.
“Trevor, in his whole life, has overcome odds,” Rams coach Tony Caviglia said. “Having to be told he couldn’t play football and all he can do is kick ... he made himself into a pretty good high school kicker and he kept striving. Really worked hard and showed he can do it, and now he’s a prolific Division I kicker.”
He converted 23 of 25 PATs for the Rams in 2012 and hit a season-long field goal of 44 yards. Samson averaged 59.4 yards on 35 kickoffs.
BYU took notice after he participated in Kohl’s Kicking Camp and was rated there as the No. 1 junior college prospect. But even the Cougars weren’t prepared to offer more than a chance to walk on to the team. After one year on the scout team, however, his grit was rewarded once again when coach Bronco Mendenhall offered him a scholarship early last season.
Now a senior, he already has matched his 2014 totals by making 12 of 14 kicks. At 85.7 percent, he ranks 17th in the country. He is No. 1 on BYU’s career accuracy list. His streak of 63 consecutive made PATs came to an end in the fourth quarter Saturday against Missouri, but Samson has made 99 of 101 in two seasons.
His 10 PATs against Wagner on Oct. 24 tied the school single-game record shared by Matt Payne (2001) and Jason Chaffetz (1989).
Saturday against the Bulldogs will mark his final home game in Provo, Utah.
I’m going to enjoy this game and definitely make the best out of it. It’s going to be fun to go out and play against them and show what I can do.
Trevor Samson on facing Fresno State in his final home game at BYU
“I’m going to enjoy this game and definitely make the best out of it,” Samson said. “It’s going to be fun to go out and play against them and show what I can do ... (face) my hometown team who I was cheering for growing up."
First-year phenomenon – BYU has played 29 freshmen this season (13 redshirts), the third-highest total in the country. Only Rice (31) and Texas Christian (30) have played more.
Mountain West fever – The Cougars are facing a Mountain West team for the third time this season. BYU defeated Boise State 35-24 and San Jose State 17-16. Still to come is a fourth game, at Utah State, to end the regular season. The Cougars are 280-154-13 against current Mountain West teams.
FRESNO STATE VS. BRIGHAM YOUNG
- Saturday: Noon at LaVell Edwards Stadium
- Records: Bulldogs 3-7; Cougars 7-3
- TV: BYUTV (Comcast 232)
- Webcast: ESPN3
- Radio: KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Series: Bulldogs lead 5-4