To Larry Johnson, Sean Stanley is the “quiet storm.”
Johnson gave the 6-foot-1, 243-pound senior the moniker because though he isn’t the most talkative member of the team, Stanley is very serious about being a good football player. Penn State’s defensive line coach recruited Stanley out of Gaithersburg High School in Rockville, Md., and said he has seen the defensive end matured a lot in their time together.
“That’s what you want to see in college. You want to see kids grow into young men,” Johnson said. “And that’s what Sean has done, and I’m really happy to see where he is, not only on as a football player, but where he is in his life right now. I think that’s really special.”
The “quiet storm” has made 23 tackles — 4.5 of which were for losses, including a sack — and recovered one fumble this season. In Penn State’s 12-point loss to Ohio State, Stanley had his most productive game of the season.
He had career-high seven tackles, and half a sack against the Buckeyes. Coming off an under-whelming performance against Iowa, he said he spent some extra time in the film room during the week, which benefited him last Saturday.
“I kind of made it my goal just to play better,” Stanley said. “I thought I did a pretty good job of that, made the most of my opportunities.”
Coming off a junior season in which he started seven games and had 4.5 sacks, Stanley has been bothered by a back issue for most of the season. The malady forced Stanley to miss Penn State’s week four contest against Temple, but he has been able to play in every other game since.
Johnson said playing through the pain shows a lot of Stanley, and he’s not the only coach who has taken notice.
“If you know anything about back issues, to play defensive end in the Big Ten conference and play the way he plays is a credit to him,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “He’s a tough guy. I’ve enjoyed watching him play and getting to know him, and I wish we had him for longer than we do, but I’ve seen him develop and get better and better, and he plays with great effort.”
Stanley is part of a veteran defensive front that has limited opponents to 3.6 yards per rush this season. And though there are a lot of experienced players on the line, one of its most productive members is redshirt freshman Deion Barnes.
A defensive end, Barnes leads the team with four sacks, and he credits some of his success to the assistance he got from Stanley.
“He’s been helping me a lot, ever since the beginning of training camp, basically since the spring time,” Barnes said. “Any advice I ask him, he’s been helping me with pass rush, stopping the run.”
Johnson noted in the film room, he’ll have an older player sit with a younger player to discuss the tape. The coach said this is another area in which Stanley helps the line.
“Sean has been outstanding, not only to Deion and all the young players, but to everyone in the room because he’s been through it,” Johnson said. “And I think that’s what’s really special about Sean.”