In Focus: Relentless
Former Walk-On James Stampley is Now LSU's Starting Fullback
The Tigers' offense relies on the running game to wear down defenses and set up the passing game. One can only wonder where LSU would be without senior fullback James Stampley's physical play leading the way.
Ask the offensive players what one of the most important, yet unsung, positions on their side of the ball is and they will probably tell you it's fullback. That's certainly the case for the 2011 LSU football team with Stampley starting at that position.
Stampley, a product of Baker, La., wasn't even on the football team his freshman year at LSU.
Getting into LSU was a "big deal" to Stampley in itself. He spent his first football season sitting in the Tiger Stadium student section surrounded by 92,400 other fans.
"The thing that stood out to me at the first football game I attended was how loud Tiger Stadium was," Stampley said. "It was a great atmosphere. At that time I could only dream about being on the field. To be in my situation now is amazing."
Stampley had been a walk-on until this season. After three years of dedication, all of his time and effort paid off when Coach Les Miles offered him a full scholarship before his senior year.
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"We've really enjoyed Stampley," Miles said. "He's a leader. He is exactly what college football is about. He's tough; he loves his school, and he is very loyal. He is exactly what we want here."
Going from a walk-on player to scholarship athlete is not an easy task at LSU. Stampley had to constantly continue to improve physically and mentally.
Although this may seem simple enough, it can be challenging to find motivation when there is no pressure of keeping a full scholarship.
"I've always been the type to do the very best that I could," Stampley said. "I don't want to be the best I can be, I want to be the best period. They really promote an environment where you're encouraged to get better all the time here."
Stampley has constantly improved over his tenure at LSU. He's developed a reputation as one of the hardest hitters on the team. Last year, former LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard told Stampley he didn't think Stampley could feel any pain because he played so hard.
Stampley has broken his facemask 16 times and damaged another player's helmet to a point beyond repair.
"When I see a target I just hit it as hard as possible," Stampley said. "I bet the equipment managers just love me."
On the field, Stampley is a player no one wants to face, but off the field he is constantly smiling and joking with teammates.
"We are like brothers," Stampley said. "I don't see them as teammates. I feel we're a family."
Stampley walked onto the field for the 2011 home opener in Tiger Stadium not only as a scholarship student-athlete, but also as a team captain.
"It was a great honor and a prestigious position," Stampley said. "For my team to nominate me as a team captain shows they actually look to me for leadership. It meant a lot to me, and I was proud to represent the guys."
Stampley completely exemplifies what it means to be a selfless player. His goals for the season include doing anything it takes to help the team reach its goals, winning both the SEC Championship and the BCS National Championship.
"We want it all this season," Stampley said. "I want to do my part and everything I can do. Whether it be out there actually playing or giving someone pointers on what to do. I want to do my part to help us get there.
"To play football here surpasses all expectations. LSU means a lot to me."
Stampley's unlikely story and journey to becoming the starting fullback for the 2011 Tiger football team has been a long road filled with sacrifice, but it could all be worth it if the end result is a national championship.