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By Bob Breen
GREENVILLE—Terrell Stanley, the former South Brunswick Cougar star in football and basketball, is making a name for himself on the East Carolina University football team.
Stanley is a nose guard and a defensive end position for the Pirates. At South Brunswick, he played defensive end and every other position as needed by former Cougar coach Roman Kelley.
In his junior year at South, Stanley had 15 tackles for losses, nine sacks and 86 tackles. A scholarship from ECU was on the way but a coaching change at ECU caused some communication problems. For a while, Stanley did not hear from ECU.
New head coach Ruffin McNeill had hired John Wiley from Appalachian State, where Kelley had played quarterback. Kelley called Wiley and told him about “this tackle down here who the old staff was recruiting and he has not heard from ECU and was being recruited by Duke, Arkansas and N.C. State.”
After coaches looked at a football highlight tape, contact was re-established with Stanley. Stanley has great leaping ability—demonstrated when he played on the Cougar basketball team—and that also impressed the Pirate coaches. The scholarship was offered February 2011.
“I actually grew up liking Duke, but when I went up to Greenville, the coaches made me feel very welcome,” Stanley said. “It felt like it was home to me.”
Stanley, 6-foot-2, 252 pounds, was redshirted his freshman year, which helped him with his courses, knowing that he had five years to graduate not four.
“I have an interest in sports medicine, and they have a great sports medicine program at ECU,” Stanley said. “If I could impress (something) on athletes in high school, it would be about the grades. Get the grades up. It will make life a lot easier.”
Stanley has been playing more on defense after starting nose tackle and senior Michael Brooks injured his knee in a 35-13 victory against Appalachian State on Sept. 1. Brooks missed two games.
“There is a lot of hype in the game at this level,” Stanley said. “The crowd is very loud, and you’re not used to that coming out of high school. I’m just trying to drown out the noise and do my assignment like the coaches tell us to do in practice.”
Stanley wears a tape on his wrist with the inscription “RIP 23 Marc Man” in dedication to Cougar teammate Marcus Hankins, who was killed at a party his senior year in high school.
For this season, Stanley has played in all 10 Pirate games. He has made 23 tackles, three for a loss of 11 yards. He has made one sack for a 7-yard loss. He has recovered one fumble. He has shown his leaping ability by breaking up five passes and blocking a kick.
“I have a lot of confidence in Terrell and I think he’ll keep getting better each game,” coach McNeill said. “When we played South Carolina, Terrell made some plays that were just outstanding strength-wise and technique-wise.”
In that game, Stanley made two tackles, one for a 1-yard loss.
“Terrell gives us strength in the center, play-making ability in the middle,” McNeill said.
In ECU’s 48-28 victory over the Houston Cougars on Nov. 3 before 45,455 fans, Stanley did not start but played more downs than the starters. ECU ran 98 offensive plays and held Houston to 62 plays in 15 minutes, 52 seconds of possession.
Stanley tackled a running back just before the end of the half with ECU ahead 28-7. In the fourth quarter Stanley knocked down a Houston pass.
“We did what we call a twist on the pass rush and I was able to leap and block that pass,” Stanley said.
Mainly used as a pass rusher, Stanley was in on most of the plays as Houston did a lot of passing. Stanley was double-teamed the entire game and triple-teamed on punts. Houston had to double-team Stanley because of his leaping ability. Nonetheless, he was able to break up two passes. He also stayed in on a lot of rushing plays.
“We kept Houston to just completing 25 percent of their third-down plays,” Stanley said, “Coach will be happy.”
With the victory, ECU is 6-4 and achieved bowl eligibility.
“We expect to be in bowls,” McNeill said. “We expect to be successful here. We expect to do things the right way. We still have a lot of season left, but to get one of the goals accomplished for this team was big. This is the fourth quarter of our season.”
After the game, Stanley was eager to go out to dinner with dad George and mom Pam, who attend every home game.
“I definitely made the right decision coming here,” Stanley said. “We are like one big family, always looking out for one another.”