Deebo Samuel’s Nickname Was Inspired by the Movie ‘Friday’

If you hear the name Tyshun Samuel, you may not recognize it. That’s because he’s more commonly known by his nickname of Deebo. The San Francisco 49ers wide receiver is quickly rising up the ranks as one of the top young pass-catching threats in the NFL on a run-heavy team.

He helped get the team to the Super Bowl last season and it seems like the sky is likely the limit. But where did he get that nickname from? 

Deebo Samuel celebrating after a first down during a game
Deebo Samuel celebrating a first down | Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Deebo Samuel’s NFL career so far

As a rookie last season, Samuel got his career off to a promising start. According to Pro Football Reference, he caught 57 passes for 802 yards in 15 games played.

The 23-year old averaged 14.1 yards per reception and caught three touchdown passes. He also added 10 receptions for 127 receptions in three playoff games for the 49ers. 

Samuel had a solid rookie season, but how has that set him up for future success? The 49ers certainly had a great year, but can Samuel continue to capitalize on that momentum going forward? 

What does the future hold?

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Whether you’re a 49ers fan or a fantasy football manager, you can be cautiously optimistic for Deebo Samuel’s performance in 2020. First, the good news: according to CBS Sports, Samuel finished 2019 very strongly.

Over his last eight games in the regular season, he had a catch rate of 70.4% with an average of 9.9 yards per target. That left him in the top 15 among receivers for both categories. 

Now, the (slightly) bad news: the 49ers proved in the playoffs that they’re a run-first team at the moment. They spent the playoffs winning with rushing yardage and coming up with strong defensive efforts.

Jimmy Garoppolo finally has his first full year as a starter under his belt, however, and that can only be good for Samuel. Expect Samuel and the 49ers offense to continue developing this year. If his 2019 output is any indication, 2020 should bring increased output from the receiver. 

No matter how good Samuel is or has been, it still doesn’t explain where he got his distinctive nickname. So why the unusual moniker? The answer may surprise you, as it has to do with a film that came out over 25 years ago. 

The story behind Deebo Samuel’s nickname

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You may be wondering how a player with the name Tyshun came to be called Deebo. After all, the names have nothing in common. The explanation relates back to Samuel’s attitude along with a classic comedy film.

Samuel played his college football for the University of South Carolina. In a 2015 interview with GamecocksOnline, he explained where his nickname came from: the film Friday, and the villainous bully character Deebo, played by Tiny Lister, Jr. 

“When I was little, my daddy [Galen] said I was a bully…He said I was always taking things from him. The nickname stuck, so I’m good with it.”

The nickname also speaks to his toughness and lack of wanting to be pushed around. According to The Sporting News, his high school coach lauded him for being like the film’s character but in a more positive way: 

“He has an emotional response where if you tap into that and make it personal, you’re really going to see that top-end ability…The best players I’ve ever seen you don’t want to challenge them, because when you do challenge them, you get a whole other level.”

Samuel’s intimidating demeanor on the football field compares favorably to Lister’s brooding performance as Deebo. There’s no doubt that based on his potential, opposing cornerbacks would agree with his nickname.