USF, Stanley continue their working relationship

USF, Stanley continue their working relationship

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USF, Stanley continue their working relationship

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North Fort Myers head football coach Earnest Graham, top, celebrates football player Mi'Cario Stanley's commitment to the University of South Florida Wednesday during National Signing Day.

North Fort Myers head football coach Earnest Graham, top, celebrates football player Mi’Cario Stanley’s commitment to the University of South Florida Wednesday during National Signing Day.

In 10th grade, Mi’Cario Stanley received his first scholarship offer: South Florida.

The two never parted.

The North Fort Myers High linebacker continued his loyalty to USF when he signed with the Bulls Wednesday afternoon.

He’ll be rivals with former teammate, defensive back/wide receiver Freddie Johnson, who signed with Temple.

Other North Fort Myers signees included defensive back/running back Errick Dorsey (Western New Mexico), tight end/wide receiver Austin Watkins (Dodge City, Kansas, Junior College) and defensive back Elijah Jones (Ellsworth, Iowa, Junior College).

Meanwhile, Mi’Cario’s brother Lucious, a running back/safety, said he believes he’ll sign in the next two or three weeks and his top choices include Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Bethune-Cookman and Georgia Prep.

North Fort Myers football players Freddie Johnson, left, and Austin Watkins share a laugh after signing their letters of intent to attend Temple (Johnson) and Dodge City (Watkins) Wednesday during National Signing Day.

North Fort Myers football players Freddie Johnson, left, and Austin Watkins share a laugh after signing their letters of intent to attend Temple (Johnson) and Dodge City (Watkins) Wednesday during National Signing Day.

Temple (10-4) and USF (8-5) are football teams on the rise. They play in the American Athletic Conference’s East Division with the Owls winning it and Bulls finishing second. However, USF won the head-to-head matchup and as Stanley noted, “We get them at home this year.”

Johnson said, “Who has bragging rights? We played in the big game so I say Temple.”

Despite overtures by Florida, South Carolina, Auburn and Miami, Johnson felt they contacted him too late.

“A person told me, ‘If you haven’t visited a school, how can you like it?,’ Johnson said. “I loved my visit to Temple, and I committed to those players and coaches. They’re a good team, good program. It was like family when I was there. I had an at-home feeling. I felt like I didn’t go anywhere when I went there.”

Stanley had 85 tackles for South Fort Myers. His play caught the eye of former Michigan coach Brady Hoke.

But because he said he got into trouble and saw his grades slipping, he needed to transfer to North before his senior season. And USF stuck with him.

“I got over 1,000 handwritten letters,” he said. “I felt the love. It’s a good place for me.”

In addition, Raymond Woodie, who recruited Stanley, has been promoted to defensive coordinator from linebackers coach.

Meanwhile, the Bulls have a half dozen players from Southwest Florida.

“It’s a great situation,” he said. “And there’s a pipeline going through Fort Myers.”

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USF, Stanley continue their working relationship
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