Dane Stambaugh admits he wasn’t anything special in his early years playing football.
But he also realized success was a possibility if he put in the time and work.
“It was freshman year that it just clicked,” Stambaugh said. “I realized if I really just hunkered down and I lift right and I eat right and I go to these extra-curricular things, such as camps and plyometric training, that I could really just shape myself into a great offensive and defensive lineman that has a very good chance of playing DII, DI football.”
Stambaugh, a Lakewood High School senior, now has that chance. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound left tackle/defensive tackle has attracted interest from primarily NCAA Division II and III and NAIA programs. He also has heard from Division I programs Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Indiana.
Being selected to play in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in December is something Stambaugh believes could increase those opportunities.
Stambaugh was selected for the Dec. 22 contest based on his performance at combines he attended in the offseason. He is slated to play on the defensive line for the East team in the All-American Bowl.
“I was extremely proud, not only for myself, but it was really huge for our high school,” Stambaugh said of the All-American honor.
“I want this to be something that defines how hard I’ve worked in my life and defines the Lakewood football program, Lakewood High School as a whole and the community. This is a great community that has done a lot to help me and support me every step I’ve taken. I owe a lot to them honestly.”
Stambaugh hopes it’s several weeks before he has to concentrate fully on playing in the All-American Bowl. He’d like to help Division 4 No. 9-ranked Lakewood, which captured its second straight GLAC title this fall, extend what has been one of the best seasons in school history as long as possible.
The Vikings (8-0) have a shot at finishing the regular season unbeaten for the first time since 1974 when they face Ionia on Friday. The playoffs loom next week and Stambaugh wants to continue to do his job in the trenches to help Lakewood win a postseason game for the first time in program history.
“On my team my job isn’t necessarily to always make the tackle,” Stambaugh said. “My job is to eat up people, command double teams and open up lanes for the linebackers so they can make a tackle. You’ve got to play selfless football, especially on the D-line. You’re basically just blockers for your linebackers and I’m fine with that. I’m fine with doing my job as long as we win.”