Donell Stanley defies expectations.
For starters, he’s likely the only college student, much less college athlete, to be actively leading a campaign against Fortnite, the wildly popular video game. It’s a regular frustration of his in South Carolina’s locker room, where he says he has started “a verbal petition” to ban it.
“2 things that need to disappear Forever. 1. The Fort Night 2. The Kee Kee song,” Stanley recently tweeted.
“I like to go outside, do things,” he explained to The State.
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Mostly, he likes to fish. Anywhere. For just about anything.
He’s happy on the side of a pond in his hometown of Floydale or with charter boat captain James “Boogie” Coates on Lake Murray in Lexington, where The State joined him on one of his recent trips fishing for striper. This meant a 5 a.m. departure from the dock.
“It’s like a balance,” the Gamecocks junior center said. “I can work hard on football and in the classroom and then balance it out with fishing.”
Stanley’s teammates sometimes call him “Big Country” and he is both. The 6-foot-3, 315-pounder regularly fills downtime before team meetings by singing karaoke in front of the group — always country selections. He was an officer in the Future Farmers of America club at Latta High School, while averaging a double-double for the basketball team and hitting .421 for the baseball team. He believes with enough reps, he could play a decent middle infield for the Gamecocks to this day.
In other words, he’s a hard guy to put in a box.
South Carolina’s football coaches are hoping Stanley will surprise some people at center this year as well. After starting his career at guard, he was moved to the middle of the line in the off-season.
“Donell is awesome. He’s so smart,” said South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley. At a summer practice, “we were doing blitz pickup with the defense and he’s the one doing blitz pickup with me. He was right 99 percent of the time. I’m proud of him because he’s invested so much time in it.”
Stanley is in his fifth year at South Carolina but is only a junior in terms of eligibility because he lost two full seasons to injury. Asked if he had to choose between a professional football career and a professional fishing career, Stanley declined, not being able to consider giving up either at the moment.
“I’ll play football until I retire and then fish all day,” he said.
He acknowledged that day on the lake that he’ll consider leaving college after this season, but he and senior right tackle Blake Camper didn’t talk about much other than fishing and who the best fisherman on the team is.
“Hands down, me,” Stanley said.
Fishing has become one of the offensive line’s chief bonding exercises.
“It’s always me, Blake, Christian Pellage, Summie Carlay, a bunch of offensive linemen,” Stanley said. “I think fishing has kind of brought everyone on the team together because everyone has been wanting to go and trying it out and liking it. We post pictures (on social media). We talk about it all time, so they want to try it.”
By the middle of July, he was already thinking about how soon his summer on the water would be coming to an end. South Carolina players officially report for camp Thursday and hold their first practice for the 2018 season on Friday.
“We know that we’re about to hit it hard,” Stanley said. “We try to get out here as much as we can, but you also worry about camp and know the season is coming up. You want to clear your head as much as you can before that time because you know once Aug. 2 gets here, it’s pedal to the metal.”