“As far as on the field, he’s very lean, very long [and] covers a lot of ground because of that,” Sanford head coach Bryan Till. “It’s extremely tough to throw over top of him. He’s a very coachable kid. He’s extremely intelligent, so it makes it easy for him to understand schemes [and] understand changes in coverage. There’s so much upside to him, because he is athletic but he’s also extremely intelligent. He’s a good character kid. The other kids listen to him – he’s a leader. He has a lot of qualities that you can’t measure that make him a better player.”
After not playing football until the seventh grade, Stallings became a freshman starter for Sanford at free safety.
“I wasn’t really thinking about even playing on varsity, because usually I just played basketball,” Stallings said. “I tried out for football and I didn’t even think I was going to be that good at it. But a spot opened up.”
During his sophomore season, Stallings added starting receiver duties, though his focus was safety. He ended that season with 58 tackles, five interceptions, and 12 pass break-ups, and was named second team All-Cape Fear Valley Conference.
“He plays centerfield for us fairly well, but we’ll even put him in some matchups with some tall receivers – goal line situations and things like that – because he can high-point the ball,” Till said. “He does fill the alley for us very well. He’s not a huge hitter, but he’s not scared to hit. He’s an extremely good tackler – he doesn’t miss tackles.”
Three schools have offered Stallings – Clemson, North Carolina, and NC State. He’s also hearing from Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Penn State.
The UNC offer – combined with assistant Vic Koenning’s persistence – prompted Stallings to visit Chapel Hill a couple of weeks ago.
“They wanted him to get around their kids and make sure he fits in with their kids,” Till said. “I felt like he would fit in, because if you look at his transcript he’s an extremely well-rounded young man. He does well in the classroom and I feel like he’s the type of kid they’re looking for from the standpoint of academically and athletically.”
The UNC visit drew positive reviews from Stallings.
“It was really nice,” Stallings said. “Actually, they showed me their football facilities and their stadium is really nice. Everything is really nice. I liked it.”
Stallings’s stay also included a meeting with Larry Fedora. It was the first time Stallings had spoken to the Tar Heels’ head coach.
“I wasn’t really expecting that,” Stallings said. “He just talked to me about how I played here and how they use me here [at Sanford]. I told him, ‘They use me on both sides of the ball, but my primary position is DB.’”
Both Fedora and Koenning, his primary recruiter, have mentioned how UNC’s 4-2-5 defensive scheme utilizes three safeties, but neither has discussed which one of the three Stallings projects at best.
“He hasn’t put on a ton of weight as this point,” Till said. “There’s so much space in his body. Coach wants to see how he develops. Last year he played at 185 pounds. He’s up to close to 200 pounds now, but he plays so much basketball and football with us that he’s moving around so much that it’s tough for him to keep the weight on.”
Stallings has visited each of the three schools that have offered him. He traveled to Clemson for a junior day back in February, NC State in mid-June, and as previously mentioned UNC in late July.
“Clemson I really liked,” Stallings said. “That was my first actual visit and it was really nice.”
That visit has helped Clemson garner a slight lead for Stallings.
“If any school stuck out, it would be Clemson,” Stallings said. “But really, they’re all about the same.
“When I went down there [to Clemson] their coaching staff, they just really seemed open. I talked to all the coaches when I was down there.”
Stallings is looking to return to Death Valley when Clemson hosts NC State on Oct. 4. He’s also eyeing the UNC-NC State game in Chapel Hill on Nov. 29.
Stallings continues to play basketball, his first love. He averaged 16 points per game this past season… Growing up, Stallings said he was a big UNC basketball fan … Stallings’s older sister plays basketball at Montreat College, a Division II school.