Penn State's Stanley hoping to build off strong play against Temple

Running a bit under the radar, Penn State defensive end Sean Stanley broke out with a big performance in the team’s 14-10 win against Temple on Saturday. Late in the fourth quarter, Stanley sacked and forced the ball from Owls quarterback Mike Gerardi on 4th and 10, effectively ending the game.

It was Stanley’s first sack of the season and second forced fumble of the game. He caused running back Bernard Pierce to fumble in the third quarter.

Stanley, a 6-foot-1, 246-pound junior from Rockville, Md., contributed his improved play to what he called one of the best week of practices he has had at Penn State. However, he admitted there was something else driving him, too. 

“That was the game that I got in trouble with afterward,” Stanley said, referring to the 2010 Penn State-Temple game. “So I was just trying to move on.”

Last September, two days after Penn State beat Temple, Stanley was charged by university police with a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession. He was suspended for two games for the incident. Then in November, he was cited for public urination. 

“I would have to say I’ve grown up a lot over this last year,” Stanley said. “Football has become more important for me. I’m watching a lot more film. (I’m) not worried about my social life as much, so I think that’s a big plus and that’s kept me focused so far.”

After concentrating more on conditioning and gaining weight in the offseason, Stanley has started at the left end position in two of the Nittany Lions’ first three games, rotating with senior Eric Latimore (Middletown, Del.) Stanley has seven tackles, including two for loss and the sack against Temple, and said he hopes to build off the Temple game going into the rest of the season.

“It was pretty much an exciting time to finally come back and contribute,” he said of last Saturday. “I kind of feel like I was just participating, I guess you could say, so far. To finally come out and have a big game and move on from all of the problems I had last year felt pretty good.” 

Stanley played 12 games as a true freshman in 2009, recording 11 tackles and two sacks. He had another 11 tackles and a half-sack, playing in 11 games last year. This season, he is on track to by far eclipse his season highs for tackles and sacks and has arguably been Penn State’s best defensive end in the early going.

Senior Jack Crawford (Longport, N.J), the starting defensive end on the right side, said Stanley has always been a great player and the Nittany Lions depend on him to be effective. 

“The plays like he made on Saturday were really expected because he was such talent that we expect that type of play from him,” Crawford said. “When someone like me is lacking in play, he can pick up the pace for me and get me going again.”

"It’s guys like (Stanley). It’s just a little bit from everybody. A play here, a play there," linebacker Michael Mauti said. "I think collectively that’s what makes the defense great. And Sean Stanley is definitely a part of that.”

--Jake Kaplan