Stanley was noticed in the fall of 2010 while playing his senior season for the Pride, a program that has yielded valuable walk-ons Taylor and Zach Gentry in previous seasons.
"Josh was actually a quarterback at Leesville Road," said NC State defensive coordinator Mike Archer. "I saw him play when I was recruiting Juston Burris. I went to the game and came back and told Dana [Bible] that the quarterback there, Josh Stanley, is a football player.
"He was a quarterback, but he absolutely lit Juston up one time on a slant. Dana said he was going to try and get Josh to walk on and luckily we were able to do that."
An all-conference and all-area selection as a senior, Stanley completed 90-of-155 passes for 1,688 yards and 18 touchdowns with five interceptions while rushing the ball 112 times for 698 yards and five touchdowns. Defensively, he totaled 25 tackles, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery while leading Leesville Road to a 9-3 record.
He initially accepted a walk-on position at Elon before switching to NC State in late April. Last fall he worked on the scout team, but quickly started to turn heads.
"Well, he didn't play for us last year, but he is a smart kid and he knows football," said Archer. "He may not be the biggest or fastest guy, but he's an all-effort guy. He knows what to do, he knows where to go, and he does it."
"I love him," Wolfpack defensive backs coach Mike Reed said of Stanley. "I love him. He's an extremely hard worker and loves the game of football.
"He wants to help out NC State in any fashion. If you told that kid to jump off the Murphy Center because it would make our team better and he'd get the chance to play he would do it."
Stanley really started to come into his own in the spring where the 6-foot, 190-pounder worked at safety and cornerback. He mainly was a reserve corner and made several big plays in the Kay Yow Spring Game.
"When you look at the spring and overall productivity and doing what he's supposed to do, when he got in the stadium he produced," said Archer. "He really did. That's why I think training camp will be big for him, to determine his role.
"He's more of a safety," added Reed. "I had to play him at corner in the spring because of depth. That also allowed him to see the game from a different perspective. Now when he goes back to safety he knows where the corner is going to be on his side... it gives him a different view moving forward."
A redshirt freshman, Stanley could be in line to contribute on special teams this fall, and he might even crack the rotation at safety given the losses of Dean Haynes and Donald Coleman in the spring.
"We're going to get him ready for special teams, but we need to get him ready to see what he can do at safety," said Archer. "He's going to be a guy that fits in the rotation, and he's going to be a major factor on special teams.
"He just wants to get on the field and he wants to play at NC State. He just wants to contribute. He's worked hard in the weight room, and he was actually our leading tackler in the spring game."
"I love the kid," said Reed. "He comes to work everyday and busts his behind. You can't say enough good things about Josh Stanley. He's a hell of a kid. I love him."