Earlier this fall, OSU's compliance office told Staley he would likely be a candidate for a sixth year of eligibility. So he wrote a letter to the NCAA, detailing the severity of his injury, his struggles to recover and his continued dedication to OSU and the football program.
Then last week, Staley was shopping for groceries at Walmart with teammate Desmond Roland when he received a message from assistant athletic director for compliance Ben Dyson saying that an additional season had been approved.
“I read it and got the biggest smile on my face,” Staley said. “You have no idea. I was just overwhelmed and just totally happy.”
First, Staley told teammate and close friend Jeremy Smith the news. Then, he told his mother, Patrice.
“She kind of teared up a little bit,” Staley said. “It was just a good day. It was a real good day.”
The extra year at OSU also gives Staley more time in the classroom. He should finish his education degree in either December or May, and then plans to work toward a second degree in psychology. His ultimate goal is to become a high-school coach and to help players maintain the grades needed to move on to a Division I college.
During practices, Gundy sometimes notices Staley standing off to the side by himself. He can tell Staley's knee is hurting. But Staley never says a word, and he always eventually gets back on the field.
And occasionally, Gundy catches himself in shock that Staley is playing in college football games. Like when he caught a pass out of the backfield and rumbled down the sideline for a 52-yard touchdown against Louisiana-Lafayette earlier this season.
“Wow, that's amazing,” Gundy says to himself in those moments. “He'll come off and he'll have a big smile on his face. He's just having the best time.”
And will get one more season of those good times.
“I questioned why everything happened,” Staley said. “But I see now I just had to be patient and let everything work itself out. I'm glad and happy with where I'm at right now.”