Captain Stampley

Stampley was named an offensive MVP against Oregon and will be a team captain this weekend against Northwestern State.

If you caught LSU’s win over Oregon, where the Tigers rushed for 175 yards on 48 attempts, then you probably got a glimpse of No. 35.

In fact, you probably got a few glimpses.

Oregon’s defense certainly did.

That’s because James Stampley, LSU’s senior walk-on fullback, was blocking everyone on the field – literally.

James Stampley

“Let me tell you what Stampley accomplished in that game,” said head coach Les Miles – like a proud father speaking about his son. “He blocked five-technique, defensive tackles, defensive ends, both linebackers and both safeties. I know that he hit at least one corner.

class="MsoNormal">“There may have been one other corner that he did not meet in that game. I can tell you post game Oregon was talking about a number of things, but they were talking about that little fullback that kept hitting them and hitting them.”

That little fullback is now in his final year with the program, but he’s set on making the most of it.

After he graduated from Baker High in 2008, Stampley enrolled at LSU without any intentions of playing football again.

By his sophomore year, Stampley, a high school center, had committed to suiting up for the team’s walk-on tryouts. He wasn’t concerned with where the staff liked him; he just wanted to make the squad - where he assumed scout team duties loomed.

Later that fall, Stampley started at fullback for the Tigers in a dramatic road win at Georgia. One better, he had played in nine college games by season’s end.

With Dominique Allen then considered the next step at fullback, Allen’s departure in August 2010 cleared the way for Stampley to move into a bigger role during his junior campaign, where he appeared in all 13 games as the chief blocker for running back Stevan Ridley.

Then came another opening in the fullback rotation.

Brandon Worle, one of the nation’s top fullback prospects coming out of high school, transferred from LSU in March, two months after the team wrapped up the 2010 season with a Cotton Bowl win over Texas A&M.

While Worle’s high school teammate J.C. Copeland had also taken reps at fullback, Copeland – who signed on with the Tigers as a defensive tackle – had only spent a season at the position.

Stampley, the walk-on who didn’t decide to play college football until his sophomore year, had become the veteran of the bunch.

“He is exactly what college football is about,” Miles said. “He is a great student. He is a guy that walked on. He is tough, loves his school and is very loyal. He is exactly what we want here.”

When Stampley heard those comments from his head coach, the bruising fullback took a moment and collected his thoughts – lost in the thought of an SEC head coach singing the praises of a walk-on athlete from Baker, La.

“It’s just a huge honor to hear him speak of me like that,” Stampley said. “I’ve worked hard since I have been here, and I’ve had good coaching. To be talked of so highly, that means the world to me. I am willing to fill any role my team needs me to fill.”

Stampley might hit hard, and he’s got the Mohawk, but that might be the extent of his fullback traits.

Off the field, the 5-foot-10, 240-pound Stampley is a soft-spoken kid, one who praises his teammates before anyone else.

When one reporter asked Stampley about his blocking on the left side versus Oregon, where the Tigers worked in two new bodies, Stampley instead talked about the performance of left tackle Chris Faulk.

“He’s getting better,” Stampley said. “I watch him every day in practice and he’s constantly getting better. It shows. You saw it on Saturday night.”

The coaches liked Stampley so much against Oregon that they named him the offensive MVP in a 40-point effort in which he never once touched the football.

“He was MVP for the game. That should tell you enough right there,” said right guard Will Blackwell. “We love the physicality of the game, and to have a fullback that enjoys it maybe more than we do. It’s an honor to have James Stampley back there.”

Despite the praise from his coaches and teammates, it was a post-game phone call from his parents that Stampley said meant the most.

“It was a good feeling to know you went out there and gave your all, and that people were proud of you,” he said.

That good feeling came after the win. During the game on Saturday, teammates turned their enthusiasm for Stampley’s effort into inspiration.

“Everybody was excited,” he said. “I came to the sideline and everybody was congratulating me. We feed off each other. When one person does good everybody feeds off that, and the next person does good because of that.”

Physicality defined the win, and Stampley is the concept embodied.

“We have always stressed being physical,” he said. “That is part of the LSU football experience. Each week we go out and focus on trying to be as physical as possible.

“We have a thing with our running back group called the Trained Assassins. It means you just go out there and handle business. I took that to heart. I took everything our coaches said to heart. That was the mind frame, just assassinating people on the field.”

On Monday, Miles announced Stampley would be a captain for Saturday’s game against Northwestern State – recognition that Stampley said meant more than words could explain.

“It’s a huge honor to be named a captain of this team,” Stampley said. “We have a large group of quality fellows, and to be able to lead them is a huge honor for me.”

When you settle into Tiger Stadium this weekend, keep an eye out for No. 35. The Northwestern State defense certainly will.

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