COLUMBIA, S.C. – Donell Stanley’s sophomore campaign might have come to an end on the season’s opening drive.
At least, that is what South Carolina’s medical staff thought after Stanley suffered a high ankle sprain against Vanderbilt on Sept. 1. The South Carolina offensive guard is back in practice this week, working his way back toward playing time.
“That’s seven weeks he hasn’t practiced,” coach Will Muschamp said. “He’s still gimpy on that ankle, but hopefully it’ll improve (Wednesday).”
The 6-foot-4, 325-pound Stanley went down on the first series of the season against Vanderbilt and has not played since. He started the season as South Carolina’s right guard and the offensive line was sent shuffling for the following weeks.
The Gamecocks have settled on a starting lineup in recent weeks, rolling out the same starting five in three straight games. Stanley is knocking off rust right now and getting used to hitting 300-pound defensive linemen again, senior offensive tackle Mason Zandi said.
Once he is back in the flow of the game, the Gamecocks’ offensive line will get a boost, especially in run blocking.
“He’s a long-armed, strong, mobile guy,” Zandi said. “He is a massive human. He brings a lot of versatility and depth.”
When Stanley will be back in the rotation sounds uncertain. He originally was expected to return following South Carolina’s Oct. 15 bye week. For now, he’s just working his way back.
“I know one thing, he’s tough,” Muschamp said. “To be able to do what he’s done is pretty remarkable. They thought he’d be out for the season when the injury occurred and he’s been able to get back. It’s a testament to the toughness that young man has.