MISSOULA — Samori Toure took a leap of faith in 2021 and joined the Nebraska football program after spending five years with the Montana Grizzlies.
The payoff was big as Toure put together an honorable mention all-Big Ten season where he caught 46 passes for 898 yards and five touchdowns. For Toure, it solidified his decision as he made an immediate impact with the Huskers.
"I feel like I adjusted well to the FBS level," Toure told MTN Sports over the phone. "And I just liked how I saw progression from game one all the way up until game 12. So I feel like I made a good decision going there and I'm satisfied on a personal level with my decision."
Now, Toure has another goal on his mind: the 2022 NFL Draft.
Once the college season ended, Toure moved back to his hometown of Portland Oregon, signed with Disruptive Sports Agency, and quickly traveled down to EXOS in San Diego where he began his training for the draft.
And the training never stopped.
"If you're training to be in the NFL and play professional there's really not a lot of off time in that process at all," he said.
Toure was invited to the East-West Shrine Bowl in February, and in that game he caught a pair of touchdowns as he continued to showcase his talent in front of scouts.
"I just looked at it as a good opportunity to get my name out there and to show that my name belongs with the rest of the receivers in this draft," Toure said. "This is an opportunity for me to go and ball out and it can help me in what I'm trying to do."
Despite all of those accolades, Toure wasn't given an NFL Combine invite, but at his Pro Day with Nebraska, the former Grizzly showed out again with a 4.43 40 time while excelling at several other drills that put his name in the mix with other top wide-out numbers from this year's combine. His 40 time would've ranked 14th at this year's NFL Combine. He also clocked a 6.77 in the three-cone drill and completed the 20-yard shuttle in 4.22 seconds. Both would've been top five at the combine among wide receivers.
Toure added a 34-foot, 1/2-inch vertical jump, a broad jump of 10 feet, 4 inches and he bench pressed 225 pounds seven times.
"I went into Pro Day basically like this is my opportunity. This is my shot," Toure said. "This is what I've been training for for months. You just have to go out there and put up good numbers. All of the chips are on the line at Pro Day. That's really something that can make or break you."
All of this comes for a player who came to Montana on a half-scholarship and who only held two other offers — Air Force and Georgetown — coming out of high school. Toure's 2019 season was one for the record books at UM, as he was named an All-American and a number of records in the FCS and at UM, including the FCS record for receiving yards in a playoff game (303) and UM school records in receptions for a season (87), yards in a season (1,495) and yards in a game (279). He finished his career at Montana with 155 receptions for 2,488 yards and 20 receiving touchdowns.
But its goals like these that Toure said weren't on his mind when he arrived at UM as he was more focused on just getting the field and taking things day-by-day.
"I was kind of someone that took it one year at a time and coming into Montana I was like I want to prove that I can be a good player here and show the coaches that they can put me on the field and I can make a difference for the team," Toure said. "I can add value and make some plays so I always kind of took it one step at a time. But after that 2019 season, that's when it kind of became a reality for me. I'm like, OK, this isn't too far out of my reach at this point so it's time to really lock in and get things done."
All of his work and improvements starting at UM and ending at Nebraska has led Toure to the doorstep of the pinnacle of the sport and possibly hearing his name called in the NFL Draft, which begins on April 28.
"That means a lot to me but that's just who I am as a person," Toure said. "I've never really had anything given to me and I had to work for everything so when other people recognize that, that's special but I think just the most important thing is I know that and I'm comfortable with who I am as a person.
"Just seeing how far I came and how I had to work for everything is kind of special for me."