Donell Stanley became a South Carolina Gamecock on Friday when he announced his decision inside Latta High School’s Ellis Performing Arts Center in front of his fellow students, family, friends, teachers, and about 15 members of the media. The 6’5”, 340 pound offensive lineman chose the Gamecocks over Clemson, after previously eliminating Alabama and North Carolina. He had narrowed the field to those final four schools over the summer after fielding offers from a total of 15 schools, everywhere in size from Marshall to South Carolina, and everywhere geographically from USC to Ohio State to LSU to Florida.Stanley became the 13th commitment to South Carolina for the class of 2014, and the 7th from South Carolina.
Until today, Stanley had been the state’s top uncommitted senior, as others around him in the recruiting rankings have already made their college choices.
Stanley announced his decision after a brief statement in which he thanked God, his parents, his uncle Chris German (who is also a Latta assistant coach and accompanied Stanley on his recruiting visits), his coaches, his teammates, his school, and even the media.
Stanley also said that he silently committed over a month ago, later implying it was on the day Gamecocks played North Carolina. He talked about how Shawn Elliott, the offensive line coach for the Gamecocks, would be the right position coach for him, and said Elliott was very excited when he told him of his commitment, and wanted to put him on the field right then. Stanley was also asked about position, since he plays both sides of the ball for Latta although he was recruited to play offensive line, and admitted the possibility of playing defense if necessary.
When asked why he chose South Carolina, he said, “South Carolina is not too far; it’s an SEC program and I just like it down there. It took four years to make this decision between South Carolina and Clemson. They’re both good schools, both in state. I picked South Carolina and I told coach over a month ago, because I know there was only one more [offensive line] scholarship left, so I went ahead and silently committed.” He also thanked the university for respecting the silence of the commitment and letting him announce the decision when he was ready. He cannot officially sign until National Signing Day on February 5, but says he will not make any more visits. I’m sure he’s glad the process is over.
After Stanley’s remarks, Vikings coach Kelly Williamson also thanked the community, and asked for continued support tonight when the Vikings head to Johnsonville for a big game against the Flashes, with a Region 8-A title (potentially) on the line. He also commented on how Stanley is a “great kid” and a good leader for his team, also saying “Donell has done everything first class.”
Stanley will join Joe Blue from nearby Dillon amongst Carolina’s recruiting class, as well as former Dillon players Kwinton Smith, DJ Park, and Bryce King already on the Gamecock’s roster.
Stanley’s announcement wasn’t his only good news of the week. Monday he was named as one of the participants in the US Army All-America Game, played each January as a showcase for the nation’s top seniors. Yesterday, Stanley was also amongst the 40 players announced to represent the state of South Carolina in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas on December 21 at Wofford College. The game matches up 40 of the best seniors from South Carolina against 40 counterparts from North Carolina.
Stanley may be a part of history with his high school team this year as well. The Vikings are 4-2, and (as mentioned earlier) will play Johnsonville tonight. Although many will favor the Flashes, Stanley and the Vikings were picked to win by 3 of the 5 panelists in the Florence Morning News game picks. Latta has not made a playoff appearance since 2003, although they will likely do so this year, and has not had a winning season since a 9-3 mark in 2002, a year that saw the Vikings advance to the second round of the playoffs. At that time, Stanley was 7 years old. Also, if the Vikings beat the Flashes, they control their own destiny to win the region. This is a team that was winless in 2010, and after hiring Coach Williamson have gone 2-8 and 3-7 the last 2 seasons.
When asked by WPDE’s Mark Haggard if he was focused on beating Johnsonville tonight, Stanley gave a very definitive “Yes sir,” and acknowledged the significance of the game within the region.
Should the Vikings find a way to beat Johnsonville, it would undoubtedly make this the greatest day/week in Latta sports history.