Late April Monday mornings are typically not whirlwinds when it comes to Stanford football news, but this one certainly counts as an exception. Within a 20-minute window, the program announced the medical retirements of quarterback Josh Nunes and fullback Geoff Meinken and released its post-spring depth chart, a document that presents a couple of intriguing nuggets regarding 2013's potential lineup.
Within the same 20-minute flurry, undrafted defensive tackle Terrence Stephens also said that he'd be heading to a Jacksonville Jaguars rookie minicamp this coming weekend. All Stanford-related draft and post-draft information is available in The Bootleg's 2013 NFL Draft coverage, linked here.
Nunes and Meinken Medically Retire
As for Nunes' and Meinken's departures, coach David Shaw had insinuated that both were facing complications in their rehabilitation processes toward the end of the spring practice session. After the Cardinal and White game on April 13, in fact, Shaw said that he wasn't sure if Nunes would be back at all in 2013 after suffering a workout-related upper body injury before spring practice started.
Meinken returned for a number of spring practices after suffering a severe knee injury during the 2012 spring game, but he was buried on the depth chart in his limited activity. The Stanford medical staff held him out of the 2013 spring game because some pain had returned to his affected knee. That proved to be it for the 6-foot-4, 246-pound bruiser whose stiff-arm and helmet-popping runs have taken center stage in several Cardinal highlight films.
Meinken is expected to graduate in June with a degree in History. Nunes is co-terming, so he'll leave Stanford with an undergraduate diploma in Management Science and Engineering and a Masters' degree in Psychology.
Breaking Down the New Depth Chart
Both departures obviously affect the first official 2013 depth chart, which is linked in PDF format here. Evan Crower is now entrenched as Kevin Hogan's back-up at quarterback, though Shaw did suggest that Stanford may use Dallas Lloyd in a Hogan-like running package at times this coming season (deferring a part of Hogan's own running to someone else may be a necessary precaution to take since neither of No. 8's immediate back-ups has seen a collegiate snap). With Meinken no longer in the mix at fullback, Lee Ward and Patrick Skov are the two bruisers jockeying for position behind starter Ryan Hewitt.
Some of the biggest offensive intrigue comes at the tight end position, where it appears that Davis Dudchock's productive spring is helping raise his stock. He's listed as the co-starter with sophomore Luke Kaumatule, who has impressed in his own right over the past several weeks. Devon Cajuste and Ty Montgomery are at the top of the heap at the wide receiver positions, though it's believed that the competition on the outside will rage well into summer camp.
Across the line, Andrus Peat (LT), David Yankey (LG), Kevin Danser (RG), and Cameron Fleming (RT) have solidified their positions as first stringers. As expected, the battle for Sam Schwartzstein's vacated center spot is still a toss-up, with Khalil Wilkes, Conor McFadden, and Danser listed in a virtual tie.
Nothing is new at Stepfan Taylor's vacated running back position, where Anthony Wilkerson and Tyler Gaffney are listed as co-starters. Shaw's plan to mix-and-match several different bodies remains true, and a 2010-like system is likely in the backfield.
The depth chart also indicates that the defense's highest-profile position battle between Blake Lueders and James Vaughters at Chase Thomas' vacated outslide linebacker spot is still in a dead heat. On the inside, senior Joe Hemschoot and sophomore Blake Martinez are tied as back-ups to A.J. Tarpley.
Many fans will be enthused about sophomore defensive tackle Ikenna Nwafor's surge up the depth chart to the spot behind David Parry at the position. Nwafor's physical transformation into an athletic, 6-foot-6, 288-pound specimen has been well-documented. He's the potential future bedrock of the Farm Boys' defense.
There's no surprise regarding the first stringers in Stanford's secondary, but it should be noted that speedy Devon Carrington is the first reserve listed at both free safety (his original position) and at right cornerback behind Wayne Lyons. Carrington's speed, no longer a secret after he ran down Marcus Mariota at Oregon last season, is apparently an asset that Derek Mason will experiment with on the edge. Kyle Olugbode is currently the Cardinal's second string strong safety, but Zach Hoffpauir is expected to be right in the thick of that mix when he returns from baseball.
Ty Montgomery, Kodi Whitfield, Keanu Nelson, and Barry Sanders are all listed as potential punt returners, while Montgomery and Kelsey Young are the depth chart's two kick returners. As expected, Jordan Williamson and Ben Rhyne lead for kicking and punting duties, while former walk-on Torsten Rotto, Austin Tubbs, and Ben Gardner are all listed underneath longsnapper Reed Miller, who struggled at times during spring ball.
David Lombardi is the Stanford Insider for The Bootleg and FOX Sports Next. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com.
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