BOWLING GREEN — Former Bowling Green State University running back Anthon Samuel will not return to the Falcons’ football program this fall.
Samuel said in a phone interview Saturday that he will transfer to Florida International, and he added that he is petitioning the NCAA to grant him immediate eligibility this fall.
Since Samuel is considered a “potential recruit” of the program, NCAA rules prohibit Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson from commenting on the situation.
After the Falcons played in the Military Bowl just after Christmas, Samuel finished the fall semester at BG, then transferred to be closer to his wife and young son, who live in Florida.
“I needed to take some time away, because there was great pressure on me,” Samuel said about the decision to leave after his sophomore season. “After I went home, I was able to relax with my family while I went to school.”
Samuel said the time in Florida made him want to return to Bowling Green, so he talked with Clawson about returning to the program.
“Coach Clawson had told me that if I left, he may not have a scholarship for me — and I told him that I would pay for school if I came back,” Samuel admitted.
Samuel decided in April that he wanted to return to Bowling Green — “I missed BG, especially the players, because I had become a brother to a lot of them” — but he also decided he didn’t want to pay for school, either.
“I decided I didn’t want to pay for school out of pocket, because I would be taking food out of my wife and my son’s mouths,” Samuel said. “But I had told coach Clawson that I would.
“I was never mad at BG or at coach Clawson — I understand. I am disappointed in me. If I had answered differently when coach Clawson talked to me about the scholarship, he would have held a scholarship for me.”
So Samuel has turned to Florida International in Miami, a school roughly 20 miles from Samuel’s hometown of Opa Locka, Fla. The Panthers were 3-9 last season, causing the school to fire coach Mario Cristobal and replace him with former Illinois coach Ron Turner.
“FIU is right around the corner,” Samuel said. “Plus, their running back [Kedrick Rhodes] was dismissed from the team, and I felt God was talking to me, giving me a second chance to play.”
Rhodes was dismissed for a “violation of team policy” earlier this month after he was arrested and charged with discharging a gun on campus.
Florida International officials also are not allowed to speak about potential players until they are enrolled in school, per NCAA rules. Samuel’s name does not appear on any FIU football roster.
Last season Samuel ran for 998 yards and 11 touchdowns on 202 carries, reaching 100 yards in five of the 12 games in which he played. He ranked ninth in the Mid-American Conference with 87.8 rushing yards per game.
Samuel also caught 22 passes, fifth-most on the team, for 198 yards and a TD and led the Falcons to an 8-5 record, a 6-2 mark in league play, and a berth in the Military Bowl.
Before the bowl game, Samuel expressed concern about being away from his wife, Jah’meela, and the couple’s year-old son, Aaiden.
“It’s pretty difficult being away from my child — I want to see him every day,” Samuel said at that time.
In 2011, Samuel finished with 844 yards and five touchdowns on 144 carries in 10 games, sixth-best in the league. He was voted MAC freshman of the year for his efforts.
Samuel said he has nothing but good feelings about Bowling Green.
“I will watch them every game I can, and I will be supportive,” he said. “One of the running backs, Travis Greene, is a brother to me and a guy who I spent six years with in high school and in college.
“I talk to him daily, and I tell him that I support him and the team. I want him to do well at running back, and I want the team to do well.
“I told him that things like this happen for a reason.”
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.