ROCKINGHAM — Senior wide receiver Malik Stanback announced his verbal commitment to Wofford College (S.C.) earlier this month, pledging his allegiance to the program that has stuck by him despite a season-ending injury.
Most of the schools that were showing interest took a step back after Stanback tore his ACL in a summer 7-on-7, but the Wofford coaching staff continued to check in on the 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior before and after his surgery.
Those gestures didn’t go unnoticed, Stanback said, and while watching the Terriers race past Virginia Military Institute during their Hall of Fame Weekend game on Sept. 8, he decided that Wofford was where he wanted to spend the next four years.
The decision was talked over with his mother and Richmond’s head football coach Bryan Till before it was announced, but once everyone was on the same page, Stanback made a call to the Wofford coaching staff and then sent out a commitment tweet.
“I’m very grateful for Wofford and the coaching staff. They had my back and were checking up on me every week throughout, so that showed me that they really cared and had interest in me,” Stanback said. “It feels just like Richmond. The same way the coaches treat me here is the same way they treated me at Wofford.
“My mom is excited for me,” he added. “She’s happy that her son is going to college and getting a free education.”
Stanback fully expects to be primed and ready to play during his freshman season with the Terriers, as he’s already ahead of his healing process — according to what Richmond head trainer Mitchel Hadinger has seen with his progress.
“I’ve been doing therapy every day and I just keep working,” the future Wofford receiver said. “I’m going to grind harder than I ever did before, make sure I stay on top of my book work, and keep playing the game that I love to play.”
Prior to the injury, Stanback was looking to have a breakout year as the Richmond football team’s lead returning receiver.
The all-conference selection from a season ago finished his junior campaign with a team high in receptions (34), receiving yards (751), receiving yards per game (75.1), had the longest reception of the year (86 yards), and was second on the team in yards per catch (22.1) and receiving touchdowns (5).
His performance during the 2017 season, and his improvements during the spring, helped Stanback pick up scholarship offers — aside from Wofford’s invite — from The Citadel (S.C.) and Old Dominion University (Va.). He was also receiving interest from East Carolina University, the University of Michigan and a number of other Division I schools.
“They will be getting a kid who understands the privilege of playing football, the hard work it takes to be really good, and a young man who is a great teammate in spite of tough circumstances,” Till said over the summer when speaking on what Stanback will bring to the program that chooses to stick around through the ACL injury.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.