Stampley set to make Illini debut after long road back home


URBANA (WCIA) — Dominic Stampley’s long journey back home comes full circle when the former Centennial standout suits up for the Illini in his first game on Saturday against Kent State. It’s been a difficult couple of years playing junior college ball.

“You actually see how strong you are when you’re all alone, back against the wall, and had to do anything to try to make it,” Stampley said.

That’s when the Illini stepped in and offered Stampley a scholarship to play for his hometown team. The coaching staff found video of him at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas and knew right away.    

“We watched a little high school film as well, matched everything up and he’s a hometown kid and just thought it’d be a perfect fit for what we’re looking for in our slot,” new Illinois offensive coordinator Rod Smith said.

So far, so good. The 5-foot-10 wide receiver had one of the better camps on the team. But you would never hear him admit that. 

“Honestly, I feel like I’m having a very bad camp,” Stampley said. “I feel like I could be better. I’m making plays but I hold myself to a way higher standard so I feel like I could do a lot more out here.”

“The young man has an extreme chip on his shoulder,” Smith added. “He’s hungry, he’s bound and determined to prove he belongs here and even though he’s doing good things and I think he’s one of our better guys, he still thinks that he needs to prove something every day. And I love that about him.”

Stampley comes back home with three years of eligibility left, which makes Smith’s eye light up just thinking about. He’s thrown Stampley right in the fire almost everywhere on the field.

“To be able to get a guy like Dominic Stampley with three years left, that was a huge plus,” Smith said. “So we upgraded definitely in that position.”

“It’s a hard task,” Stampley said about learning Smith’s schemes. “Anytime you learn a new offense it’s pretty hard but for the most part I’m just having fun with it. I’m hype to get put in different positions and to try and score the ball for us.”

Stampley hopes to improve the Illini air attack that ranked 106th in the country, with less than 175 yards per game.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.