Signing Day 2006 is over, and already the mad dash to 2007 has begun for both
college coaches and those of us who cover recruiting. But before we turn
the page on the Cardinal class that just closed. Stanford's strength this
year came out West, which is notable. Walt Harris needed to reload his
offensive stables, at a number of positions. He went to Illinois to find
his quarterback, which is unusual for "Quarterback U" - no signal caller from
outside California has started a game for the Cardinal since Scott Frost
(Nebraska) in 1994. But Harris hauled in two running backs from the Golden
State this year, along with two wide receivers. Another Western wideout
was signed out of Washington state. Additionally, Stanford's top two
overall nationally rated recruits signed this year (both defensive linemen) came
Eight of Stanford's 19 signees this year hail from the Golden State.
Add one from Washington and one from Arizona, and you find more than half of the
Cardinal's class in Pac-10 territory.
WR Stephen Carr - Chula Vista (Calif.)
OT Joe Dembesky - Westlake Village (Calif.)
DT Sione Fua - Encino (Calif.)
RB Toby Gerhart - Norco (Calif.)
DE Levirt Griffin - Modesto (Calif.)
RB Tyrone McGraw - San Francisco (Calif.)
CB Tyler Porras - Scottsdale (Ariz.)
WR Marcus Rance - Yakima (Wash.)
WR/CB Richard Sherman - Compton (Calif.)
LB Sam Weinberger - Sherman Oaks (Calif.)
Some of these players are recognized talents, while others project more
favorably by Stanford than some recruiting services or college coaches assessed.
With Signing Day in the books, we can now examine the final rankings where
Scout.com slots the best out West.
of 2006 West Hot 100
Scout.com Class of
2006 California Top 100
Stanford signed four players among Scout's top 50 in the West region:
Gerhart (#23), Griffin (#31), Fua (#40) and Sherman (#50). Stanford's top
dog on both lists is Toby Gerhart, who completely shattered the Golden State
career rushing record and was honored as a Parade All-American as well as
California's Mr. Football.
"I think it's a great class that Stanford signed this year, even if guys
weren't from California," says Sherman. "But we signed a lot of guys down
here, and that will pay dividends. I definitely feel that Southern
California has football dominance. It's been proven over the years that
the best players come out of here."
"I was very excited when Toby committed. It's much better for the
program to get those kinds of players," the Compton native continues. "I
think he's going to bring a big running threat to the offense. He can take
it up the middle or outside, and he can also break tackles."
A look at the West Hot 100 also reveals that several of Stanford's Pac-10
rivals also got rich with the top talent in the region this year. While
Stanford signed four players from the top 50, Cal brought home six. UCLA
amassed eight. USC signed a mind-numbing 14, including three of the top
five and seven of the top 15.
Stanford recruits nationally, more so than anybody else in the Pac-10.
You can call it an apples to oranges comparison to look at how Stanford stacks
up against its conference rivals in recruiting the region, when the Cardinal
comb the entire country (and Canada in this class). That is the nature of
Stanford's admissions requirements.
Stanford landed every player they offered in California this year who was
admitted, batting 8-for-8. (Two other in-state offerees were denied by the
Admissions Office.) The Cardinal went 1-for-1 in Arizona. There was
nobody to be found in Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Idaho or Hawaii in the 2006 class.
The only area where Stanford could have improved its West Coast haul was in
Washington state. They landed wide receiver Marcus Rance, who the Cardinal
believe can be a high-impact player in Walt Harris' offense. But Stanford
missed on three players in the Evergreen State rated in the top 25 of the West
region by Scout.com: OL Steve Schilling (#1), S Taylor Mays (#15) and DL Cameron Elisara (#22).
But this year was a statistical outlier for Washington state talent, both
overall and that which Stanford had a chance to recruit. The time-tested
treasure is found in California. Most of the Cardinal's current stars, and
brightest prospects, came from inside the state. Trent Edwards, Evan Moore, Mark Bradford, Matt Traverso, Michael Okwo and Mike Silva represent much of the team's best returning talent for the 2006 season. Erik Lorig, Clinton Snyder, Will Powers and Matt Kopa are some of the Cardinal's
brightest future stars, along with several signed last week.
In his first year on The Farm, Walt Harris did an excellent job of closing on
the best California prospects the Cardinal could recruit. We believe he
may have identified a few more who are regarded today as sleepers but could
surprise. Convincing blue chip recruits from other corners of the country
to shun the powerhouse programs in their backyards can be done on occasion, but
it is a difficult proposition. Closing on the kids in Stanford's backyard
is essential to the program's future success, and Harris is off on the right
foot with that charge.
Next up: the Class of 2007...
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