• John Macon Gillespie

Stanley Buford Driven By Family

Stanley Buford was able to get his feet wet playing a part in Cleveland-East Side’s run to the third round of the 3A playoffs in 2015. Buford, 6’3 sophomore and a promising receiver, was playing in just his first season of varsity football.

Aberdeen ended the Trojans’ season, but not before they were able to win nine games. The future is bright for Buford and East Side, he knows that.

“I want to make it to state and get a ring,” Buford told SES Mississippi. “I really think we have a chance because a lot of our players were young and we have a lot of experience. I still think we have a lot to improve on but I know this summer we will work in order to get where we need to be.”

His debut season started off with a bit of bad luck as he went down with an injury in the first game. He would miss half the season with a fractured ankle, but he blossomed in East Side’s two playoff wins. In the Trojans’ opening round match-up against North Panola he caught three passes for 59 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown reception. The following week he made just one catch, but it was a 32-yard touchdown. The point difference in both games was two points and six points, respectively, so his scores were obviously crucial.

Next season he is hoping to pick up where he left off and remain healthy. If he is able to stay at full strength for the entire season he knows it can be a special campaign for him.

“Beginning of the season was a downfall. I did good to come back from an injury like that,” Buford said. “Next year I’m planning on breaking out. It all starts with the way I work myself during the offseason.”

Though the timing of the injury was less than ideal, and the situation was adverse for him, he was well-prepared to handle it. Growing up he says he encountered adversity regularly, and that he is motivated and influenced by the strength he sees in his mother.

“Going through a lot of adversity coming up is what drives me,” He said. “Seeing my mom try to take care of a household by herself. I don’t want my mom to be stressing and having to provide for everyone in the house. I want everyone in my family to be fed and I am going to make sure that happens.”

Finding motivation in something so personal and so close to his heart is the reason he refuses to be anything but great. Part of the work he will be putting in this offseason will come when he attends the Fortius Project April 30th at ICC. It will be something all new to him, but that isn’t tempering his excitement.

“This camp excites me because it will be the first camp I’ve attended. I’m looking forward to the camp as a starting point for me to break out and show my true talent,” Buford said. “It will better my game.”

He was first drawn to the idea of attending Fortius after seeing many of his fellow 2018 class members signing up.

“I’m looking forward to coming to go hard every rep and to not let any human being out work me,” He said.

While he is hoping that his trip to Fortius will give him a better idea of the areas he needs to improve, he does have an idea of two areas specifically. Due to his injury his vertical jump “fell off,” and he is looking to regain that. Also, he is looking to get faster because he isn’t satisfied with where his speed is.

“I just want to be the best of the best. I am going to do everything possible to make my game stand out,” He said. “To me everything is my weakness right now because I’m hungry for greatness.”

Speaking of standing out, he is confident that a few aspects of his game will do just that.

“My work ethic, my focus, my hand, my route-running and my ability to judge the ball in the air,” Buford said.

Although, he did say he isn’t quite satisfied with his route-running.

**Photo by Curtis Latham.

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