Asmussen | Stampley's back home at last

Asmussen | Stampley's back home at last

The local receiver is coming home. And he's got big plans.

Former Centennial standout Dominic Stampley made a commitment to the Illinois football program Friday.

"It's the time to rebuild right now," Stampley said. "What better way than with a hometown guy to help the program spark it up a little bit."

He is thinking way beyond a bowl bid in 2018.

"I'm going to be honest with you," he said. "I feel like we're going to touch the Big Ten championship this year.

"I feel like the team is really where it's supposed to be. We've got a lot of keys. We've just got to put it all together."

Stampley, who spent two years at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, will soon join the Illini for summer workouts. Thanks to a redshirt his first season in junior college, he has three years of eligibility.

Stampley finished his Centennial career in 2015. He caught 35 passes for 369 yards and five touchdowns as a senior. Solid numbers.

But he had work to do in the classroom.

Stampley spent a year at a prep school, then enrolled at Coffeyville.

"I needed to get my GPA up, so I had to do the whole junior college route," Stampley said.

In May, Stampley got a scholarship offer from new Illinois offensive coordinator Rod Smith. He also considered Cal, South Alabama, Northern Illinois, Louisiana Tech and Illinois State.

Stampley said "Yes" to Illinois after receiving word he had been admitted. He plans to major in education.

Self-starter

Over the years, Stampley has heard the doubters: "Maybe he's not good enough. He's not smart enough to get into a program."

He tuned them out. Now, he's going to the Big Ten.

"A lot of times, they would put their limitations on other people because they can't do it," Stampley said. "I used that as fuel. Every time somebody said something, it gave me a cue to go hop on the field, let's work. We're not worried about proving the haters wrong. We're worried about proving everybody that believed in me right."

The Illinois staff believes in him. The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder has the skill set they are looking for.

The Illinois offense needs playmakers. It needs 60-yard runs and 80-yard receptions.

How about a player nicknamed turbo?

That's what they call Stampley.

"I bring a lot of speed, a lot of explosion," Stampley said. "I bring that hype. I'm one of the type of guys who can turn a 5-yard route to a house call (TD) in a second. I'm one of those players you'll keep your eyes on."

Ready to help

Give me a choice between an area player and one from a faraway state and I will take the area player every time. For so many reasons.

Stampley grew up going to Illinois games. He knows the history and the traditions.

When he plays this season, there will be fans in the stands cheering for him, led by his mom, Lillie, and four siblings. That has to be helpful.

Consider the local players who have made a huge impact on the program in recent years. Ask Northwestern about Centennial's Mikel Leshoure, who set a school record with 330 yards against the Wildcats at Wrigley Field. Certainly a college football record for yards gained running one direction.

Central's J Leman ranks sixth on the school's career tackles list and helped Ron Zook reach the Rose Bowl. Tuscola's Fred Wakefield, who just rejoined the program as a fundraiser out west, is third on the school's career sacks list and fourth in tackles for loss. Playing close to home worked out well. Rantoul's Sean Bubin started three years, including the 2001 Big Ten championship season, before spending time in the NFL.

There have been many, many others. From Urbana, St. Joseph, Danville.

Now, it is Stampley's turn.

Bob Asmussen can be reached at 217-778-4411 or by email at asmussen@news-gazette.com.