Stamps’ bet on himself pays off

Published 7:55 am Saturday, December 23, 2017

Chris Stamps gambled on himself when he left Mississippi State a year ago to try to revive his college football career.

This week, he hit the jackpot.

Stamps signed with Middle Tennessee State on Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA’s early signing period for junior college transfers and high school football players. The former Warren Central star spent this past season at Northwest Mississippi Community College after leaving Mississippi State in search of more playing time, and was thankful that the move paid off.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“It took a lot of courage to leave Mississippi State,” Stamps said. “I had been there for two years. I think it definitely worked out for the better. I gained a lot of confidence at Northwest and got my feel for the game back.”

Stamps was a four-star recruit coming out of Warren Central in 2015. The cornerback was a first-team Class 6A All-State selection in his senior year and played in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game.

He signed with Mississippi State, but never made the impact he was expected to. A shoulder injury forced him to take a redshirt year in 2015, and then changes on the coaching staff in 2016 led to a souring relationship. He only played in nine of the team’s 13 games and, after barely seeing the field in the season-ending St. Petersburg Bowl, made the difficult decision to transfer.

“Leaving was hard. I had built relationships with those guys over the course of two years, and there were all the sacrifices we made for each other on the field and off,” Stamps said. “At the end of the day I came to Mississippi State to make the team better and I wasn’t able to do it.”

Not wanting to sit out a year under the NCAA’s transfer rules, Stamps decided to take a step backward. He transferred to Northwest Mississippi and got everything he was looking for.

Stamps became a starter and a star for one of the best junior college teams in the country. He finished the season with 34 tackles and one interception. He helped the Rangers reach the MACJC championship game, finish 8-3, and ranked No. 7 in the country.

Stamps said this season helped rebuild his confidence after it had been shaken by his time in Starkville.

“It just reminded me of who I was and what I was doing. I always considered myself a playmaker. I came to realize that again,” he said.

Stamps also reignited interest in his services from a number of Division I programs. He whittled the list to four — Middle Tennessee, Toledo, Colorado State and Florida Atlantic — just before signing day, and then announced his final decision in a Twitter post Wednesday morning.

“I think Middle Tennessee knew I was going to Northwest before I did,” he said with a laugh. “When I got there, I found a note from Middle Tennessee in my locker, and they continued to follow me all year.”

He said he enjoyed watching film with Florida Atlantic assistant Monte Kiffin, a coaching veteran of more than 50 years who is considered one of the best defensive coaches in football history. In the end, however, the decision to sign with Middle Tennessee came down to the opportunity for playing time and to be a part of a veteran secondary.

Middle Tennessee ranked eighth out of 14 teams in Conference USA in pass defense this season. The Blue Raiders finished 7-6 and beat Arkansas State in the Camellia Bowl.

Stamps will have two years of eligibility left and wants to make the most of them.

“When I said the things I was looking for in a school, playing time was important because being on the field is important these last two years. It’s time for me to get on the field and make plays again,” Stamps said. “They’re returning three guys that played a bunch and had a good season. Adding me into that mix, it can be one of the better secondaries in the conference.”

• Chris Stamps, CB, Middle Tennessee (Warren Central/Northwest Mississippi CC)
• Paul Wilson, DB, Northern Colorado (Vicksburg High/Copiah-Lincoln CC)
• DeMichael Harris, WR, Southern Miss (St. Aloysius/Hinds CC)
• Braden Moody, OL, South Alabama (Warren Central)

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

email author More by Ernest