(WCIA) — Expectations for Dominic Stampley were high last season. A Champaign kid coming to the Illini at a position of need, people wanted results.
“I feel like I always put pressure on myself. I always want to go out there and make the big plays, ” says Stampley. “I always want to go out there and compete at the highest level.”
“It was a big stage to jump onto for him,” says wide receivers coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker. “A guy that was coming from a JUCO where there wasn’t a lot of structure and discipline in the offense, and he struggled with that at times, but he’s worked through it.”
The coaching staff has noticed. He’s more familiar with the playbook and more fluid in the offense.
“He understands where he’s going now, he knows what he’s doing,” says offensive coordinator Rod Smith. “There’s always still things to work on, but he’s much more consistent than what he was. I thought he was having one of the better springs of the wide outs till he got hurt, and he had a phenomenal summer.”
“I’m very comfortable,” says Stampley. “I’m out there scoring, dancing because I’m finally relieved that I know the playbook and I know everything that’s going on with the insides of the game.”
Stampley caught 19 passes last season for 311 yards. 292 of those yards were in second half of the season, with 153 yards and two touchdowns against Maryland. But now there’re more play makers at wide receiver, so he knows he needs to step up his game.
“It’s competitive to say the least. We go out there every day, everyone’s trying to get catch of the day, everyone trying to make that big play, says Stampley. “Everyone’s trying to score that big touchdown and just move up to the top in the rankings.”
“There’s definitely more competition. Guys know that if the ball is on the ground they’re not gonna be out there long, and that’s the way it should be,” says Stoker. “You got to produce to play and that’s what we need to have around here.”
If they find it, the Illini should take a step forward this season, and Stampley hopes it comes from him.