Wide receiver Kelsey Young has developed a reputation amongst Stanford's tennis coaches, of all people.
"He's infamous around these parts, because [he borrows and] catches a lot of tennis balls," Stanford assistant coach Mike Sanford laughed. "It trains his hand-eye coordination. There's probably not a guy that works harder at the art of catching the ball [on the team]."
Kelsey Young is one of a bevy of potential spark plugs in the untested Cardinal receiving corps, but he may be the most intriguing talent in the room because of his explosiveness and positional history as a running back. And at another practice featuring limited contact -- full pads don't come on until Friday -- Young drew more praise from Stanford's coaching staff.
"He looks even more like a wide receiver in terms of route running and catching the ball than he ever has," Sanford said while discussing the receiving corps with The Bootleg Radio.
Sanford reaffirmed Ty Montgomery and Devon Cajuste are the clear frontrunners for starting spots at the position, but mentioned that an "extremely focused" Jordan Pratt is solidifying his case for considerable playing time along with Young, an "outstanding" Michael Rector, and Jeff Trojan.
"The guys who needed to cut weight did cut weight, and the guys who needed to bulk up, bulked up," Sanford said. "We're going to play as many guys as are going to help us win games, as long as we have enough spots on the plane."
Stanford donned shoulder pads for the first time this season on Wednesday, and although full gear and live tackling won't take effect until Friday, this midweek session featured the year's first uptick in on-field physicality. Defensive end Josh Mauro alluded to it on Twitter following the conclusion of practice:
First padded practice in the books. Got a little salty out there, but that's just how we like it round here. #StanU— Josh Mauro (@JustJoshin90) August 15, 2013
Once things really get rolling, expect collisions on the practice field to be more violent this year thanks to the simple laws of physics. Along the lines of what The Bootleg reported Monday, Stanford's players are bigger and faster than they were in 2012.
Defensive end Henry Anderson is a
prime example. He played last season at a little under 280 pounds,
but is now weighing in at 295 pounds.
Remarkably, Anderson's 40-yard dash time has improved throughout his
"You probably hear the coaches talk about [Shannon] Turley all the time, but he's really just been unbelievable with us," he said. "He's just been getting us stronger and getting us more agile at the same time. We did a lot of speed and agility drills in the spring. In the summer, he conditioned us and got us ready for the long grind of the season."
Nose tackle David Parry is yet another Stanford lineman who has added mass (10 pounds of it, to be exact), and he again drew praise from both the coaching staff and his teammates after practice. Remember, defensive coordinator Derek Mason went out of his way to call him a "beast" on Monday.
"David Parry had a heck of a day today," David Shaw raved. "He's so powerful and quick off the ball. He's over 300 pounds now, and he's hard to keep out of the backfield."
Anderson elaborated on the work that has turned the big man in the middle into such a force.
"David Parry always been a monster in the weight room," he said. "He's putting up a bunch of 225 reps and squatting the house."
Speaking of size -- get used to it, it's a common theme that emanates from this physically-imposing Stanford team -- the Cardinal's tight end position, though it's not returning any receptions, is adding significant mass. Sophomore Luke Kaumatule is now checking in at 265 pounds, while Shaw said freshly beefed up tackle Kyle Murphy will occasionally bring his 290-pound frame to the position. As we reported yesterday, Charlie Hopkins did lose about 20 pounds over the offseason, but he only did so because of his move from the defensive line. He now checks in at a solid 260 pounds, so Stanford's top four tight ends will easily shatter the 1000-pound mark. (Davis Dudchock, who drew another positive mention from Shaw Wednesday, checks in at 242 pounds.)
Conor McFadden took first-team repetitions at center on Wednesday as part of the ongoing plan to rotate the three candidates at the position. While Shaw said that it's far too early for a decision in the battle between McFadden, Kevin Danser, and Khalil Wilkes, he did take time to discuss a future force in the middle. Sophomore Graham Shuler is working with Stanford's younger players early in camp.
"I'm cautiously optimistic. He's obviously bigger, he's stronger, he's more comfortable at knowing what to do," Shaw said. "He's always been our most athletic center. Now that he's got more size, if he can be consistent, he could start to crack the competition, but we're very pleased with where he is right now. You can put it down: He's going to be extremely good."
The Amanam Effect
Shaw spent considerable time complimenting senior nickel back Usua Amanam, one of the less heralded Stanford heroes of the past three years. He reminisced on Amanam's time as a freshman running back in 2010, when he performed well with the ball at Notre Dame and in a tight win versus USC.
"He was hesistant [to switch to defense] at first, but when he jumped in, he's one of those guys that picks things up really quickly," Shaw said. "So he was able to master the art of being a nickel back and he's made critical plays for us. He's one of those guys you look at and say, 'I wish we all played with his energy and fire every game.'"
Shaw was also asked about how he regulates his players' use of social media.
"We talk about it a lot," he said. "I don't necessarily try to control what they do and say. I try to give them guidelines that keep them out of trouble."
Shayne Skov, who is an active Twitter user, was the central example used in the conversation.
"He's been one of our best guys on Twitter," Shaw said. "He's generally positive, he generally has an opinion... But at the same time, he frames things in such a way that I think are positive. That's what we want to do, and forget about football. I just believe in life, we should all try to affect people in a positive way, and I think Shayne has been good about that on Twitter."
Speaking of Skov, Shaw said that the Sports Illustrated cover story focused on No. 11 is a special piece. He said that a number of people from the magazine told him that the abundance of excellent material collected for the article may warrant an entire book on Skov in the future.
- True freshman linebacker Peter Kalambayi has impressed the
most out of the Cardinal's newcomers so far, though Shaw stressed
that it's too early to make a complete evaluation because full pads
aren't on yet. "We really see his athleticism, his size, his speed,"
- A reporter asked Shaw about using Tyler Gaffney to pass out of the
wildcat. "I've seen him throw a baseball and it is a thing of
beauty, the proverbial frozen rope," Shaw said. "But he does not
throw a football like that."
- The only Stanford practice open to the public during this fall
camp will be Saturday, August 24 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. An Open
House in Stanford Stadium will follow.
- Paramedics, police, and the fire department held evacuation drills
at Stanford Stadium today. The football team took part, running some
practice drills inside the stadium before taking part in some
David Lombardi is the Stanford Insider for The Bootleg. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.
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