Ryan Burns is ranked among the elite recruits in the country by 247Sports.com, Rivals.com, and ESPN.com. Rivals ranks Burns as the No. 4 quarterback and No. 47 player in the nation, its highest rating of a Stanford quarterback since Trent Edwards. (Rivals ranked Andrew Luck No. 68 in the country). Similarly, ESPN, which gave Luck four stars and designated him No. 62 nationally, ranks Burns as an early five-star recruit. 247 Sports also gives Burns a four-star ranking and deems him the No. 101 player in the nation. However, Scout.com's opinion of Burns is less favorable – it ranks the 6-foot-5 signal caller the 28th quarterback nationally.
Burns had a subpar statistical year in 2011. Playing in an unconventional single-wing offense, Burns threw 13 touchdowns against 14 interceptions, with a sub-.500 completion percentage.
However, the general consensus is that, while troubling, Burns' stats aren't indicative of his talent level. He performed well at a variety of offseason camps and combines, including Stanford's summer prospect camp.
In an interview with Scout.com, Stone Bridge head coach Mickey Thompson evaluated his star signal caller.
"He's a great leader No. 1," Thompson said. "No. 2 is physically, he has all the tools. He can make all the throws and he commands the huddle, and he's just getting better day-by-day.
"He looks like a defensive end, a big strong-armed guy who can make all the throws. Again, I think the thing that separates him is that he can run the football if he needs to. He can make blocks if he needs to. I think he has all the tools to do everything."
The Bootleg's expert prospect evaluator and former Stanford defensive back Garry Cobb, Jr., who will soon have a full evaluation of Burns, agreed that Burns has the physical tools necessary to succeed at the major college level.
"Burns has a top-end collection of raw talents that are flashed in the small amount of video of him that is publicly available," Cobb said. "He doesn't have a conventional release, but its quickness combined with his height diminish that potential concern. Size, arm strength and touch are all represented in Burns' highlights, along with underrated athleticism and toughness. For his projection as a college quarterback to match his talent and potential, Burns will need more experience and coaching to improve his pocket presence and decision-making. However, once Burns has the requisite experience to excel in those two aspects of his game, he can be the complete package as a Pac-12 quarterback."
If the 2012 recruiting class had unusual depth along the offensive line, 2013 is a strong year for quarterbacks. In addition to Burns, national recruits like Cooper Bateman and Max Browne expressed a high level of interest in Stanford, while fast-riser (and early Scout.com four-star recruit) Jared Goff was a fellow Junior Day attendee.
Yet, as far as we know, Stanford only offered three quarterbacks for the class of 2013 – Burns, Tyrone Swoopes (who recently committed to Texas), and Kevin Olsen (a New Jersey gunslinger who recently expressed a degree of interest in visiting Stanford).
Thus the secondary story in Burns' commitment is not which quarterbacks the Cardinal pursued – rather those that they didn't.
Take the case of Browne. On paper, he was an ideal candidate to join Stanford's 2013 recruiting class. Ranked the No. 1 quarterback in the county by several recruiting sites, Browne has offers from many of the top schools in the country, but not Stanford. Nonetheless, Browne listed Stanford among his favorites in several interviews. If they offered Browne, I suspect Stanford would have vaulted even higher on Browne's list.
Bateman, the No. 4 quarterback in the 2013 class by Scout.com, has offers from Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Cal and many others, but not from Stanford. If Bateman was tendered a Cardinal offer, it's likely he'd already be Stanford commit.
In a summer interview with Utah's Scout.com site, Bateman said Stanford was his "dream school."
"Stanford. That's my dream school," Bateman said. "It's my dream to go there. It's still kind of early to say right now, but more likely than not, if they did offer, I would commit."
However, the offer never came. It's worth noting that unlike Browne, Stanford did get an in-person look at Bateman when he camped with the Cardinal and obviously didn't see enough to merit an offer at the time, but Bateman's recruiting profile is impressive to say the least.
Although it's early, and it's impossible to rule out Stanford taking a second quarterback in the 2013 class, Burns' commitment makes it less likely that Bateman or Browne end up on the Farm. So while the Cardinal should celebrate the commitment of Burns, one of the more physically talented and touted quarterbacks Stanford has recruited in recent years, he'll always face comparisons to Browne and Bateman. Stanford fans hope the Cardinal got the right man for the job.
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