Staley, and his mother, Sharon Campbell, confirmed the fact Wednesday.
The 6-foot-7 Staley, a Mississippi State commitment in football and basketball, missed the second half of Wheeler’s game against Milton last Friday, and according to a report by Score Atlanta, the benching, and ultimate dismissal, stemmed from an argument over play-calling.
When reached, Staley, a member of the Marietta Daily Journal preseason Dynamite Dozen, did not provide details about what happened, but he did say that he had been in contact with his recruiting coaches at Mississippi State and said that everything “was fine.”
He also added that he will try to graduate in December in the hopes of being on campus in time to join the Bulldogs’ basketball team for the Southeastern Conference portion of their schedule. Staley, who was a Class AAAAAA first-team all-state selection last season averaged 18 points and 9.5 rebounds a game for the Wildcats’ basketball team and helped lead them to the state semifinals.
Staley was also a major part to Wheeler’s football turnaround over the last two years. As a junior, he threw for 1,801 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. The Wildcats finished the 2012 season with a 6-5 record and returned to the playoffs for the first time in six years.
Through the first five games of this season, Wheeler is 2-3 and Staley completed 72 of 115 passes for 1,072 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. He had also run for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
Messages left for Wildcats’ coach Mike Collins were not returned.
Campbell said she felt the situation was blown out of proportion.
“This situation was made into something bigger than it is. In my opinion if you dismiss a student from your team I would think it would be over drugs, drinking, harassment of some kind or grades and of course something criminal. None of these caused coach to dismiss Elijah from the team. In other words Elijah didn’t do any of those things so I’m not happy with a dismissal, but coach did what he felt he needed to do.”