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