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July 12, 2012

Stamps' road to redemption leads him to SDSU


Marcus Stamps earned his nickname in the tenth grade, after what his head coach David Wiltz described as "a pretty brutal practice."

It was a practice where Stamps, who plays both running back and linebacker at Los Angeles (Calif.) Jefferson, demolished ball-carriers on defense and dished out just as much punishment with his bruising rushing style as a running back.

Following the practice, the coaches started calling him "Bamm-Bamm."

"Whenever we come out here to practice I just get mad and hit anything that moves," Stamps explained.

San Diego State took notice of his mean streak and punch-you-in-the-mouth toughness. It saw that Stamps was a muscular 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, who runs a legit, electronically-timed 4.5 second 40-yard dash. The coaching staff pursued Stamps hard, making him a recruiting priority. SDSU told him that they envisioned him as their new big power back in the Big East, and Stamps obliged, giving the Aztecs a verbal commitment on Monday.

"I imagine myself as more of an Adrian Peterson or Trent Richardson -- just a power back -- and when you put my speed into it I feel unstoppable," Stamps said. "I need to continue to work on running low, continuing to be a power back and work on getting bigger and faster."

If you ask Stamps why he turns into the Incredible Hulk on the football field and what fuels his fire, he'll tell you quite a story; one of how he turned tragedy to triumph and defied the odds to realize his dream.

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The Marcus Stamps story begins way before he enrolled at Jefferson High School.

"When I was younger, around seven years old, my mom had a lot of difficulties that she was going through with drugs and alcohol. I never had any contact with the father part. My Auntie was graceful enough to take me into her home and raised me up well, put us in church, and from there she gave me a new life."

With a new life came new opportunities, and football was one of them. Stamps had wanted to play Pop Warner football since he was five years old, but never had enough money to pay for the registration fees. He finally got the chance to put on a helmet and pads when he was in the fifth grade, and a friend's parent took care of paying for his registration.

Humbled by the gesture, Stamps knew he had to make the most of this new opportunity.

"I knew that since she put her pocket money out there for me, that I had to make something of it," Stamps said. "The coaches saw what I could do, and once I got to middle school and high school football it was free, so I was going to bust my butt off."

Over time football became more than just a game to him. It was a way for him to escape his troubled past, just as he escapes defenders and breaks tackles on the way to long touchdowns. Football turned into his way of life.

"This is what I want to do, this is my release, this is everything to me," Stamps says.

Is he mad at his parents, bitter at his past and the circumstances he was given in life?

"I just use that as motivation each time I step onto the field."

Stamps used that motivation to turn in an impressive high school career so far, including a junior season where he logged 78 tackles and seven sacks on defense, and more than 1,500 all-purpose yards and 16 touchdowns on offense and special teams. The on-field production in turn produced scholarship offers from SDSU, Colorado and Nevada, and an eventual verbal commitment to San Diego State. Other schools wanted him to play on defense, but Stamps had his heart set on being a Div. I running back, and the Aztecs gave him that chance.

"That's what I was looking for," Stamps said. "Some colleges came at me as a safety or linebacker, but my passion is playing running back. They gave me an offer, and told me that if I worked hard I would have playing time as a freshman carrying the ball and whatnot. So I just want to go out there (to SDSU), bust my butt off and continue to play running back."

Stamps' interest in SDSU started back in May, when the Aztecs offered him a scholarship. It started to pick up after a positive experience at the on-campus summer camp last month.

"The way they welcomed me and showed me around, and how the vibe was that kept going throughout the whole camp, it just felt like a great thing," Stamps said. "The coaches stayed in contact with me and keep up with me by all means and everything else."

An unofficial visit after the camp piqued his interest in SDSU even more, and after taking a few more weeks getting to know the coaches and school better, Stamps decided to pull the trigger and verbally commit to the Aztecs.

"After the camp they showed me around the facilities and campus and stuff. Everything looked great and sounded great, and just the way they approached everything and how they came at me. They were the second offer that I had, and I just kept that in mind a long time. I always wanted to be in San Diego, I searched them up a lot, and just did my research."

Looking back on where he came from, to where he is now, Stamps can't help but smile. But although he's already accomplished so much, he's still hungry for more. There's still a football career at San Diego State and a potential future in the NFL to look forward to.

"It feels good, I love it," Stamps said. "Actually I'm going to be the first one from my family to go to a major university. I'm going to be the first to get out of high school. It feels great and I'm blessed to have that opportunity, so every chance I get to work hard and do what I have to do, I just do it twice as hard as everybody else can."

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