Naples High’s Michael Stamps had to wait his turn to get on the football field.
As a freshman, he didn’t start on the Golden Eagle offensive line. Stamps was destined for the junior varsity team his sophomore year, but while he was competing for a starting spot at guard, he tore his ACL and ended his season early.
“I went through rehab really fast and just wanted to get back to playing and got back in five months,” he said, powering through the process quicker than most. “That winter I broke the school squat record and started all 13 games my senior year.”
By the time his days came to an end as a member of the Naples High School football program this last fall, Stamps owned three school power lifting records: bench press (420 pounds), power clean (330 pounds), and parallel squat (560 pounds).
At 5-foot-11 and 265 pounds, his ascendance has come by way of the weight room. That’s where Stamps turned his injury into motivation and got stronger by the day.
“It helped a lot, just keeping my body intact and just getting better than the other person. To me it has always been about being as well rounded as possible,” he said.
Now, Stamps will play football at nearby Ave Maria University, joining 14 of his teammates after officially signing on the dotted line and becoming a Gyrene.
Naples Class of 2016 has a school-record 15 football players going on to play at the collegiate level, three of them in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, after Stamps became the latest signee. In his case, however, the one-year starter was pursued later than most.
“I went to a recruiting fair in Cape Coral and I got offers from three different colleges: Carthage College in Wisconsin, Methodist University in North Carolina, and Adrian College in Michigan,” Stamps recollected. “A few months after that I went on some visits [to those schools], but they were still all way too expensive in the end.”
Stamps elected to attend an open house at Ave Maria, finding a local fit there, and was impressed by first-year coach Joe Patterson and his staff.
“All these coaches seem really, really good. They were all at big schools and it seems like the perfect storm for me,” Stamps said of Ave Maria’s new coaching staff and his newfound opportunity to find early playing time.
But even if he doesn’t find his way onto the field right away with the Gyrenes, Stamps is merely focused on improving his game; being well rounded is his M.O.
“Playing at the college level along with 14 of my friends, it’s exciting that I’m now the next one. I’m looking forward to learning the craft of offensive line better, improving my run blocking and pass blocking.”
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