Latta High School OG Donell Stanley has had a long couple of years. Whether or not his Latta Vikings beat Johnsonville on Friday night, by the time he goes to bed he will surely have a huge sense of relief, because what is likely the toughest decision of his life will be over.
Stanley has been dealing with the decision of where he wants to play college football, and he will announce his decision on Friday at 1:00 PM, at the Latta High School auditorium.
Over the course of the last couple of years, Stanley has been recruited by a countless number of schools, receiving offers from (in alphabetical order) Alabama, Clemson, East Carolina, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Marshall, Mississippi State, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, USC, and Virginia Tech. Over this past summer, Stanley narrowed the list to Alabama, Clemson, North Carolina, and South Carolina (as he put it, these are “in no particular order.”)
247 Sports rates Stanley as the 3rd best offensive line recruit in the nation, and the 4th best overall recruit in South Carolina. Stanley stands 6 feet, 4 inches, and is 330 pounds, and he had much of that incredible size before high school, as he was 6’3”, 280 pounds in his freshman year. Stanley wears size 21 cleats (that’s the last I heard; his feet may have grown some more), which are ordered custom-made with some help from the Carolina Panthers of the NFL and Nike.
Out of 24 analysts on 247 Sports who have weighed in on the process and made their own personal predictions of his decision, all 24 believe he will commit to South Carolina. Having known Stanley a couple of years now from our acquaintance during my time at Latta High School, I also believe he will pick South Carolina. However, I would not be surprised if he picked any of these four schools.
If Stanley picks the Gamecocks, perhaps the head coach is a factor. Steve Spurrier is one of two coaches amongst the “final four” schools, along with North Carolina’s Larry Fedora, to come to Latta to visit Stanley. Much of the rest of the contact with other schools has been done on college campuses as Stanley and his uncle, Latta assistant coach Chris German, have traveled all over the country.
Also, Stanley has grown up a fan of both South Carolina and North Carolina. If his boyhood allegiances are a factor, it would certainly be possible one of these two schools would be where he is playing on Saturdays next year.
Regardless, this is the biggest thing to happen for a Latta Vikings athlete since Raymond Felton, who graduated from Latta in 2002, chose to play for Matt Doherty (and later Roy Williams) at North Carolina, winning a national championship and leading to Felton’s current NBA career with the Bobcats, Nuggets, Blazers, and currently the Knicks.
According to one of Stanley’s post to Twitter, his decision is probably already made. In response to a tweet from @GamecockGirl97 that commented on the people who may not be happy if he doesn’t pick their school, Stanley said “it’s fine and I understand that that’s y I prayed and prayed and asked God to show me the right way.” Given the wording of the tweet, I feel he’s probably already made the decision. Also, he probably wouldn’t announce a date and time for his announcement if the decision wasn’t already made.
So hopefully that feeling of relief I mentioned earlier is already starting to sink in some, even if nobody else knows yet what direction he’s headed. My personal college decision was hard enough, and with it came a feeling of relief once it was made, and which team and coach I would go to school to play for wasn’t a factor. In fact, the school I eventually chose, Anderson University, doesn’t even have a football team. I can’t imagine what the recruiting process is like. WPDE’s Rich Chrampanis reported in May that during one baseball game (keep reading to hear about Stanley’s other involvements) in May, Stanley had received 27 texts, emails, and phone calls from members of college coaching staffs, as well as the media, regarding his recruitment.
Through all of this, Stanley has played not only high school football, but also basketball and baseball. He is the starting first baseman and cleanup hitter on that Vikings baseball team, a team that is the defending state runners-up. During the state championship baseball series, South Carolina OL coach Shawn Elliott came to Latta to watch Stanley play, and he saw Stanley lay out for an over the shoulder catch on a pop-up behind the first base bag (It was honestly one of the ten greatest catches I’ve ever seen). Stanley also enjoys hunting and fishing, as well as listening to country music. He has also taken up tennis, in addition to his other sports, as an additional way to stay in shape. All of these activities will likely come with a little more ease after Friday, as a large chapter of Stanley’s high school career that has taken a large chunk of his time will now be closed.