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BALTIMORE — Aback I aboriginal access Ryan Stanley in the antechamber of the Marriott auberge abreast the city’s beach here, the Florida A&M chief quarterback alcove out to agitate my hand.
But seeing as I alone accede myself able in age only, I bound abolish his handshake and instead extend my arm at a 90-degree angle, acquisitive — or assured — Stanley to bolt assimilate the ambience clues. He does, our award brooch like a button band catch and we both accompany anniversary added in for a hug. The dap takes beneath than two seconds. We move over to a table in the aback of the auberge antechamber and arise our interview.
If this adventure were about about any added quarterback at a historically atramentous academy or university (HBCU), our abrupt acclaim would not be noteworthy. But Stanley, a alpine and attenuate 22-year-old, is a white man arena a predominantly white position at a predominantly atramentous school. And, well, that is noteworthy for a deluge of reasons, no amount how abundant Stanley — or his teammates and coaches — tries to downplay it.
Stanley is arguably the best quarterback in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Appointment (MEAC), one of two NCAA football conferences fabricated up absolutely of HBCUs. He ranks additional in the MEAC in casual yards this division (2,181) and touchdowns (19), abaft the appointment baton (Juwan Carter of Norfolk State) due to arena two beneath games. The Rattlers’ (8-1, 6-0 MEAC) 32.7 credibility per bold advance the conference. Alabama A&M’s Aqeel Glass (29 touchdowns and 3,064 casual yards in the Southwestern Athletic Conference) is the alone HBCU quarterback with a commensurable resume.
Earlier this season, Stanley anesthetized Quinn Gray as the school’s best baton in casual yards and touchdowns, authoritative a case for actuality the best quarterback in Florida A&M history. The aggregation claims it doesn’t see blush aback it comes to Stanley. But a white guy as the best quarterback anytime at a historically atramentous academy is too accessible to ignore.
As anarchistic as it seems, white athletes at HBCUs are appealing common. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, self-identifying non-black acceptance architecture about division (24%) of HBCU enrollment, and according to the NCAA, 5% of HBCU football players analyze as white. White Americans are mostly begin in HBCU baseball programs and accomplish up a ample cardinal of the kickers and punters on football teams. (Florida A&M’s article and punter are Egyptian and Lebanese, respectively.) But they accept additionally appeared on the amphitheatre at quarterback.
In 1968, Jim Gregory was the aboriginal white quarterback to comedy at Grambling State, which led to a 1981 television cine alleged Grambling’s White Tiger, starring Caitlyn Jenner, who starred in the blur as Bruce Jenner as Gregory. A division aeon later, Michael Kornblau started for Eddie Robinson’s Tigers, as well. Ross Smith was Langston University’s “White Lion” in the aboriginal 2000s. Doug Switzer, the son of allegorical Oklahoma arch drillmaster Barry Switzer, played one division as the starting quarterback at Arkansas-Pine Bluff. (Switzer had additionally advised arena at Langston.) Stanley isn’t alike the aboriginal white quarterback at Florida A&M: In the aboriginal 2000s, Chris Owens and Ben Dougherty started for the Rattlers. Fans alleged Dougherty, a Mormon from Washington state, the “Great White Hope.” Derrick Ponder is the amateur at Jackson Accompaniment this season. But of all those examples, Stanley stands out as the best talented.
Stanley grew up in Pembroke Pines in South Florida. His hometown is 20% atramentous and 43% Hispanic. His aerial school, Charles W. Flanagan Aerial School, is allotment of the Broward County academy district, which is 40% atramentous and 36% Hispanic. “It’s like a melting pot of all races,” said Stanley, whose Southern chant turns every yeah into yay-uh. “Just a agglomeration of bodies advancing together.” Despite the blush of Stanley’s skin, his chase is a non-factor both aback home and in Tallahassee, area Florida A&M is located. “I aloof be me,” he says on assorted occasions.
Stanley gravitated to quarterback because at a adolescent age he accomplished “you blow the brawl every play.” To comedy quarterback, you charge acquire assertive traits: intelligence, composure, leadership. You additionally charge to be a little … different, which makes Stanley absolute for the position, in his eyes. “Like how I stick out and stuff, some bodies say I’m different, I guess,” he said, somewhat apropos to his race. “You aloof gotta be a little altered to be quarterback.”
With his continued abounding hair, the position he plays and his adjacency to atramentous football players, Stanley of advance knows what you’re thinking. Admitting he was almost 3 years old aback Remember the Titans debuted in theaters in 2000, Stanley is able-bodied acquainted of the exploits of one Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass. “I get that name added than anything,” he said. “I’ve heard that forever.” (Like above NBA bouncer Jason Williams, Stanley is additionally alleged “White Chocolate.” He prefers “Sunshine.”)
It is all in acceptable fun, until it isn’t.
Last season, afterwards a asperous airing adjoin Bethune-Cookman (three interceptions in a 33-19 loss), Stanley hopped on Twitter and saw letters aspersing white bodies arena for historically atramentous programs. But as he does on the acreage when, say, adverse a blitzer, Stanley isn’t agitated by the comments.
“I don’t absolutely affliction about none of that,” he said. “Anyone could sit up there on amusing media and say stuff.”
He doesn’t get comments like that at Florida A&M, which is one of the abounding affidavit he chose an HBCU over added Division I programs. Stanley ethics loyalty, and Florida A&M showed that through his recruiting process. He had offers from other, non-HBCU schools, including Florida International, Eastern Michigan and Western Kentucky, but those programs capital him to red- or grayshirt. Eastern Michigan offered him a scholarship two weeks afore the 2015 signing day afterwards the program’s aboriginal advantage became unavailable. But Stanley didn’t appetite to be anyone’s aftermost resort. “I absolutely fabricated the appropriate accommodation advancing to Florida A&M, area they kept me their aboriginal priority.”
The historically atramentous university, ironically enough, was like a home abroad from home for him. “I got the aforementioned accordance [in] South Florida and I aloof knew God put me in the appropriate spot,” he said.
Florida A&M Rattlers quarterback Ryan Stanley (left) and Bethune-Cookman Wildcats quarterback Larry Brihm Jr. (right) affectation with their MVP trophies afterwards the football bold amid Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 18, 2017. at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire
Hair and bark blush aside, Stanley looks the part: the bluster and mannerisms of atramentous adeptness accept acutely rubbed off on him. During our account he’s cutting a appearance chaplet and Air Jordan sneakers and his dap is additional to alone that of NBA abettor Adam Silver. On the field, his appearance sometimes resembles that of Robert Griffin III: distinct arm sleeve and cuff on his non-throwing hand. (Stanley additionally wears bandannas, admitting those are to accumulate his beard out of his face aback he has his helmet on.)
“I aloof do my own thing, and what others apperceive it as, that’s what it is,” Stanley said. “But at the end of the day, I’m what I’ve developed up about and aloof actuality about my brothers and actuality like that.”
As a white man, he had to be acquainted and acute to the acquaintance of his atramentous teammates to acquire their trust, article he’s been able for by growing up and arena football in Broward County.
“That’s the acceptable affair about sports. You abound up arena this bold there’s a acceptable adventitious you’re activity to comedy with guys that don’t attending like you,” said Florida A&M arch drillmaster Willie Simmons. “And so he’s done that his accomplished life. It wasn’t afflictive for him at all. It hadn’t been afflictive for his teammates. They see a brother, they don’t see a white quarterback. He doesn’t see atramentous teammates. They see brothers. And that’s the acceptable affair about football, is it brings us all calm in that sense. We never alike anticipate about it until we get asked about it by media.”
Defensive aback Terry Jefferson, the team’s arch tackler, has accepted Stanley back aerial academy aback the two played on the aforementioned 7-on-7 teams (Jefferson went to aerial academy in Miami). The brace were attached their apprentice year and sometimes alike the Air Jordan shoes they abrasion on alley trips.
“We don’t attending at him as the white guy on the team. We attending at him as our brother. He’s got the aforementioned bark blush as us. Alike admitting it looks altered we apperceive central we’re all the same. We amusement him as such, and he treats us as such. And that’s how we’re able to band calm with anniversary other,” Jefferson said.
The abstraction of not seeing blush came up in all my interviews with associates of the Florida A&M program. Chase appears to be article they either absolutely didn’t apprehension or were afraid to allocution about. Admittedly, the appellation has become so politicized that “seeing color” is sometimes advised a bad thing, alike as anecdotic ancestral differences goes a continued way adjoin active the evils that led to the alarm of HBCUs in the aboriginal place.
Michael Hurd, the administrator of the Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Adeptness at historically atramentous Prairie View A&M University and the columnist of Atramentous Academy Football, 1892-1992: One Hundred Years of History, Education, and Pride, believes there’s a simple acumen atramentous colleges such as Florida A&M wouldn’t accomplish a big accord out of race: They aloof appetite affection athletes.
“In not seeing color, you are, you’re aloof attractive at an athlete’s ability, which of advance is actual altered from during allegory and alike in some instances now area chase is still a agency at PWIs [predominantly white institutions] in their recruiting,” Hurd said. “Black colleges, they don’t go there. If you’re a acceptable amateur and you can advice this program, race, blush is absolutely not activity to be a factor.”
Stanley — and his teammates — ability not see chase aback he’s on the field, but he for abiding sees it in the classroom. At HBCUs, you are apparent to the adeptness every day and in abounding ways, and like best Americans, Stanley didn’t apprentice abundant about the plight of atramentous bodies in K-12 alfresco of the appropriate readings on bullwork or the civilian rights movement.
“I apprehend it every day in the classroom with the history, and I’m about them [African Americans], but I acutely don’t go through the aforementioned things aloof because of my bark color,” said Stanley, who is a bent amends major. “It’s messed up how it is actuality in America, aloof how bodies get advised differently.
“Being at an HBCU you get the abounding acquaintance and the history and absolutely go into abyss about things.”
And it’s not all about athletics. Stanley’s football agenda keeps him active for best of the abatement and spring, but he still makes time to “show my face” about campus. He goes to basketball amateur and Set Fridays, a account student-led exchange on campus. He best enjoys the acclaimed accession anniversary of HBCUs.
Then there are the, let’s say, allowances of actuality one of the few white men on campus. He’s active about his claimed life, but they don’t alarm him “White Chocolate” for nothing. “I don’t appetite to say too abundant about that, but I stick out, so it’s not adamantine to acquisition me,” he said with a laugh. “That’s all I absolutely could say on that situation.”
Jefferson added: “He’s a superstar off the field. I got to adhere about him to get some acceptance about here.”
During his additional year as a starter, Stanley told the Tallahassee Democrat that he had two goals for his bookish career: win the MEAC championship and be advised the best quarterback in the FCS.
The Rattlers accept a two-game appointment advance with two amateur actual in the division but are disqualified for the appointment championship (and the consecutive Celebration Bowl adjoin the SWAC champion) due to NCAA bookish infractions.
Florida A&M quarterback Ryan Stanley (right) rolls out to canyon adjoin Southern in their animosity bold on Sept. 21. Florida A&M won 27-21.
And while Stanley’s numbers don’t put him at the top of the FCS, he’s acutely the best quarterback in the MEAC — and possibly of all HBCU schools. He has been amazing all division — the Rattlers absurd the FCS Top 25 for the aboriginal time in 10 years — save for the season-opener adjoin non-conference Central Florida, area he completed aloof 29% of his passes for 52 yards in a 62-0 annihilation loss. The antagonism with the American Athletic Appointment assertive was what’s accepted as a “money game,” in which schools from one of the Power 5 conferences agenda a bold adjoin a FCS academy in what can best be declared as a adored exhibition. The amateur commonly appear with a six-figure payout for the underdog teams — forth with askew losses.
Stanley is conflicted about risking his bloom and assurance adjoin bigger, faster and stronger opponents “just for the university to get a little check,” admitting he understands the “bigger picture” of programs like his defective those checks to survive as an institution.
Since the Central Florida game, Stanley’s befuddled for beneath than three touchdowns in aloof three amateur and Florida A&M hasn’t absent a distinct game.
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“He’s one of those guys area I don’t accept to go through altered avenues to appearance him a play. I can acquaint them article appropriate now and he knows absolutely what to do,” said quarterbacks drillmaster Kenneth “KJ” Black. “He’s got a abundant football IQ, loves football, loves advancing to practice, practices adamantine every day. He’s aggregate you could ask for from a quarterback.”
For Stanley’s part, he’s acquainted of all his and his team’s successes this season. Aback asked now, he won’t say he’s the best quarterback in the appointment or the FCS, but said that he still wants to be.
“I’m still alive like I’m the backup,” he said. “I’m aloof never satisfied.”
Martenzie is an accessory editor for The Undefeated. His admired accurate moment is aback Django said “Y’all appetite to see somethin?”
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