When you compile 50 sacks in two seasons, it's difficult to fly "under the radar." It's even more difficult when you have NFL bloodlines.
Recruiting can often be as much about measurables -- or lack thereof -- as production, and that's how you end up with someone like 2017 South Carolina signee Damani Staley.
A two-time area defensive player of the year and son of former NFL running back Duce Staley, Damani Staley was a three-star recruit. Ranked as the No. 79 outside linebacker in the 2017 recruiting class and the 19th-best player in the state of South Carolina, and with other offers from East Carolina and Georgia Tech, Staley definitely fits the description of "unheralded" in recruiting circles.
His on-field production while at Ridge View High School in Columbia (South Carolina), on the other hand, is elite. Playing defensive end, Staley recorded 29 sacks in his 13-game senior season -- he had at least two sacks in all but one game -- in an impressive encore to a junior season that saw him compile 21 sacks. Both times, The State newspaper named him its defensive player of the year.
His size (he was listed at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds when the Gamecocks announced their signing class) is the caveat. Though he played defensive end at the prep level, he likely projects to a linebacker in college.
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp noted that since the Gamecocks have the ability to play in some 3-4 alignments, Staley would have an opportunity to contribute as a stand-up rush linebacker.
"He’s athletic enough to play in space," Muschamp said at his signing-day news conference of Staley. "He certainly has the quickness and the foot speed to be able to play in space very easily. It’s just a matter of what he’s going to be able to handle when he comes in. We’ll put him in situations to be successful."
It's worth noting that Staley's height and weight are pretty similar to another linebacker the Gamecocks signed in 2013: Skai Moore. When he signed, Moore was also a three-star recruit, listed at 6-foot-2, 205, and things have worked out pretty well for him at South Carolina.