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Prime time performer: Deion Stanley a playmaker for GSU
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Georgia Southern safety Deion Stanley, bottom, tackles The Citadel's Aaron Miller in the open field at Paulson Stadium in this Nov. 5, 2011, file photo.

    Deion Stanley occasionally gets kidded about being from a town so small it’s difficult to find on the map.
    The town of Dry Branch may indeed be hard to find on the map — for the uninformed it’s in Twiggs County and its population is approximately 3,100 — but Stanley is an easy man to find on the football field.
    All you have to do when the Georgia Southern defense is on the field is follow the football. Sooner or later, Stanley will be on the scene.
    The redshirt freshman free safety was all over the place in GSU's 14-12 win over The Citadel on Saturday.
    The former Twiggs County High School standout had a game-high 13 tackles, 11 of them solo, and also blocked an extra point attempt — one of two for the Eagles — to help put GSU in position to win its first Southern Conference title since 2004.
    The No. 4 Eagles (8-1, 6-1) can win the championship outright with a win at 1 p.m. Saturday against No. 9 Wofford (7-2, 5-1) in Spartanburg, S.C.
    For his performance against the Bulldogs, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound Stanley on Monday was named freshman of the week by the SoCon, the second time this season he’s won the honor.
    Stanley also was selected as the conference’s freshman of the week after a 10-tackle performance in the season opener at Samford, a 31-14 win for GSU.
    To say Stanley was underwhelmed about the honor would be putting it mildly. He was not the least bit impressed after being told of the selection.
    “I’m just glad to be playing,” Stanley said. “Playing college football is a big, big step up from playing high school football.
    “The game is so much faster here,” Stanley said. “The speed of the game and the great athletes make it a lot tougher. You’ve got a really good athlete at every position.”
    Stanley played quarterback and defensive back for Twiggs County, which was 11-2 during his senior year. He was being recruited by former GSU coach Chris Hatcher when Hatcher was fired following the 2009 season.
    “Georgia Southern was recruiting me and I was going to come here,” Stanley said. “The new staff came in late but, thankfully, they offered me (a scholarship). I was never thinking about going anywhere else.”
    Stanley started the first two games of the season at safety, but has been at free safety since Derek Heyden was lost for the season after suffering a neck injury against Chattanooga in the Eagles’ third game.
    “He’s a smart kid, a very coachable kid,” GSU head coach Jeff Monken said. “Jack (defensive coordinator Jack Curtis) is impressed with him. He said it’s so easy for him to learn.
    “He got himself in position to make tackles (against The Citadel), and a lot of that was knowing where to fill and how to play a block. A couple of his tackles were because of his hustle and getting himself around the ball.”
    Stanley credits his teammates, coaches and Heyden for the success he’s enjoying. His 53 tackles lead the Eagles, five more than linebacker Josh Rowe and eight more than linebacker Darius Eubanks.
    “Our defensive line did a great job of clogging the holes,” Stanley said. “Our linebackers pursued to the ball and fought off blockers. I had pretty open opportunities.
    “I talk to Heyden a lot. He’s a great help because he knows the conference and tendencies. He does a great job, and he’s a great all-around person.”