Monroe grad Charles Stafford, who was The ALbany Herald’s Player of the Year in 2012 and the Player of the year runner-up last season, signed a scholarship with Albany State University on Tuesday. (Albany Herald file photo)
ALBANY — Charles Stafford broke every quarterback record at Monroe High and made the Tornadoes one of the most dangerous offensive teams in Southwest Georgia.
On Tuesday, he announced that he’s sticking around the Good Life City a little longer.
The star quarterback and 2012 Herald Player of the Year signed with Albany State, giving the Rams a Division I-caliber quarterback and a major recruiting victory.
“I think I made the best decision of my life,” said Stafford, who will likely be red-shirted this fall while senior quarterback and reigning SIAC Newcomer of the Year Frank Rivers wraps up his college career. “I know the coaches at Albany State are very good coaches and are going to look out for me no matter what. They were really upfront with me by telling me that I will be red-shirted this year and then the team will be mine for the next four years.”
Stafford was primarily recruited by ASU assistant coach Anthony Kelly, who had to compete against offers from several Division I schools.
“This was a win-win for everybody,” Kelly said. “It was a win for Monroe, for Charles, for us, for his family and also for the city. He is a Division I-caliber quarterback, and we are excited he is coming to Albany State.”
ASU head coach Mike White called it a “great signing” for the program.
“We hope he has a great career, and I look at Albany State as having a bright future with him as quarterback,” White said.
Stafford, who was ASU’s only QB signee this year, had his breakout year as a junior at Monroe when he threw for 3,025 yards and 23 touchdowns to run away with the Player of the Year honors. He had 2,647 passing yards and 29 total TDs his senior season to finish as The Herald’s Player of the Year runner up behind Ohio State commit and Lee County star Stephen Collier. Stafford finished his career at Monroe as a four-year starter with more than 11,000 yards and 100 touchdowns to break the school record in both categories.
Monroe coach Charles Truitt has no doubt Stafford will continue to succeed on the next level.
“I really believe he has a big upside,” Truitt said. “The sky is the limit for him. I think that he will have success at college just like he did in high school, and I think he can take ASU to the next level.”
Stafford said that staying close to home was partially a family decision.
“With my daughter being 1 year old, I didn’t want to leave her down here,” said Stafford, who revealed he had offers from Division I schools Marshall, Georgia Tech, Louisville and Cincinnati.
Stafford will join the Rams during summer workouts in July and will learn the team’s pro-style offense after largely running a spread offense at Monroe. He said spending a season under the leadership of Rivers is a perfect scenario.
“Frank is a cool guy,” Stafford said. “I hung out with him when I went on an ASU visit. He is smart, humble and quiet. I know that’s like a mirror image of me.”
Stafford is the first Dougherty County quarterback to sign with the Rams since ex-Monroe star Terrance Ransom in 2005. Other recent Dougherty County QBs to suit up for ASU are Dougherty High’s Uyl Joyner (2003-04) and Monroe’s Johnny Gilbert (1990-93).
Stafford hopes to take the Rams where they’ve never gone before.
“I know they won an (SIAC) championship last year, but I want to go further than that and win a national championship,” Stafford said. “My first goal is to learn the system. I know I can be a dual threat and run when I need to and make passes when I need to. I can read coverages very well, so I know that will help out.”