A Football Family

Robert Ray Stallings made waves as a big, physical tight end at Southern Mississippi in the early '80s. Stallings married and had three sons of his own who all went on to follow in their talented father's footsteps. Two of Stallings' sons have college degrees and are still working in the world of sports. Jervontius Stallings, the youngest in the family, is about to begin his college career.

When the elder Stallings' playing days were over, he settled in Magnolia, Mississippi and began making a living and raising children.

As a former college football player, Robert Ray Stallings hoped to have some athletes in his young family.

"Being a role model in the eyes of my kids has been an awesome experience," said Stallings. "If you have boys, whatever you do or have done they are going to want to do that too.

"You know they say that a tree is known by the fruit that it bears, so it's an awesome accomplishment to see my sons follow in my footsteps and go on to play college football.

"I thank God that our tree, for me and my wife, has bared some good fruit."

The college level success the three Stallings' sons have seen is not just based on natural ability.

From a young age, Robert Ray taught his sons the value of hard work.

"When my kids were young, I had them training with me twice a day during the summer," said Stallings. "I taught them the fundamentals of football.

"I taught them that whatever goals they have in life that they needed to write them down.

"I told them to write it down and share it with God, because he is the only one who can really see it and help them achieve all they want in life and help them be successful.

"I just thank God for all of the things my sons have achieved in life so far."

The first of three Stallings' sons to enter the college football world was Tre Stallings who went on to play at Ole Miss for Coach David Cutcliffe.

"Tre was a unique guy," said Robert Ray with a thoughtful pause. "He always had his head in the books.

"When he met Coach Cutcliffe, he just fell in love with him as a person.

"He took his official visit up there and he was amazed.

"He went from there and he has been enjoying it every since.

"He's working at the SEC office now and he just loves it."

The football playing family tradition continued with middle son, LaDarius Stallings who is still working with the college game in hopes of one day becoming a college football coach.

"My middle son, LaDarius, played at Southwest (Community College) and then went on to UT-Martin," explained the proud father. "He graduated from there and now he is a GA (graduate assistant) at Cincinnati.

"He is up there sharing his expertise and showing them what he has learned coming up in life and in football."

Bunchy Stallings, the "baby" of the family, is set to announce his college decision next week.

Robert Ray and his wife have been with the youngest Stallings son every step of the way in the recruiting process.

"We went to Tennessee-Chattanooga and it was pretty nice," said Stallings. "We turned around and went to Kentucky the next weekend.

"Kentucky was real nice. It was a good experience.

"We went to one of the basketball games and it was awesome.

"They are real fans there at Kentucky and that was a nice place to be.

"We went to Mississippi State last weekend and they had tremendous facilities and tremendous coaches.

"It's been a real process between Mississippi State and Kentucky and how they have presented the program and the educational experience.

"It's been an awesome experience seeing those programs up close.

"You know if you don't have the right players, then you're not going to be successful and the coaches won't be there.

"You have to make a good decision for yourself."

The Stallings family will visit Colorado this weekend in the final official trip before signing day.

The recruiting process has changed a great deal since Robert Ray put pen to paper and joined the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss over thirty years ago.

Stallings reports that he has seen the process evolve over the course of the last decade or so as his sons have gone from front yard football players to college level prospects.

At the end of the day, recruiting is about relationships and Robert Ray has done his part to share that with his youngest son as he prepares to make his own decision.

"I have told him that first and foremost you have to pray about it," said Stallings. "You have to make sure that you identify with your teammates and your coaches.

"You want to be in a good environment and not be around players that only think about themselves.

"You just have to keep your eyes open and watch and listen to what people have to say about the program.

"You have to see what people are trying to show you and then you have to ask questions.

"I feel like he's done a good job of that.

"You only learn when you really live and you have to learn from your mistakes.

"We are going to support him no matter what decision he makes and he will make his decision on signing day.

"We are going to be behind him all of the way and we are going to be happy with whatever he decides."

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