Most of Stanford's offer activity came in the spring and summer for this 2007 class. There will always be offers made during the fall, as senior film from recruits shows development that merits a move from the Cardinal coaches, but September started off with an offer to tight end David Paulson for different reasons. The 6'4" 230-pound athlete from Auburn (Wash.) Auburn Riverside High School already owned four scholarship offers from Pac-10 schools but added the Cardinal somewhat unexpectedly.
"It was actually a surprise," the recruit relates. "All of a sudden, they texted me to give them a call. They said they were offering me. I was surprised because I hadn't really talked with them most of the summer."
That begs the obvious question of why the Cardinal offered after the summer, rather than in July or early August when most programs make such moves based on junior film and camp/combine performances.
"They went to two-a-days and decided that with their tight end situation, they need to go out and get one," Paulson answers.
Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Eastern Washington and Idaho previously tendered offers to Paulson. The Ducks and the Bears are his top two favorites, he says. He visited Eugene this past weekend and will take his second official trip this coming weekend to Berkeley. With two early official visits to his two top schools, it would appear that Paulson is preparing for a college commitment sooner rather than later. But he says that the newest offer on the table will give him pause.
"I think I'm going to take a trip to Stanford," he shares. "I have to take a look at them because of their academics."
For some, the timing in which a school offers to show their commitment to the recruit is important. Paulson could dismiss Stanford for being a little later to the party. Oregon offered in mid-June, while Cal followed a couple weeks later. Is September for Stanford's move a factor in his mind?
"Yeah, but I'm just going to take my visits and see," Paulson replies.
We actually feel that other factors are more present in Paulson's mind. He is not a particularly big ego kid when it comes to recruiting, and he prefers to instead talk about other criteria upon which he will base his college decision.
"It will be about how comfortable I feel with the coaching staff, the team and the whole program," Paulson opines. "I'm also watching to see how they use their tight ends on the field and how much they use them in the passing offense."
If he takes his official visit to The Farm, the former is not likely to lose the race for Stanford. It is the latter instead where the Cardinal trail in his perception of the programs.
"They seem to keep their tight ends tight more," Paulson describes. "I kind of like to move around more like Cal and Oregon. They both run spread offenses that split out the tight end a lot."
That is a substantive advantage he feels in favor of the Bears and Ducks, which is one reason he continues to hold them as his top two favorites. Paulson does, however, slot Stanford third on his school list after their offer. Third place wins nothing on Signing Day, but it is a positive that the Cardinal leapt immediately ahead of Washington and Oregon State, two schools who offered earlier and are closer to home.
"A Stanford degree goes a long way to getting a job after football," Paulson explains. "You can get a job anywhere with a Stanford degree."
Two other optimistic notes for the Cardinal: he is working on his admissions application and is close to a scheduled visit date. The latter is a decision between the October 14 weekend and sometime in December. For the former, he has already mailed in the first section and is just weeks away from finishing the rest.
"I've turned in the bio form and all that," Paulson reports. "I need to write my essays. That's due the beginning of October."
Paulson owns a 3.9 GPA at Auburn Riverside and reports a 1720 on the SAT.
With three weeks separating his Cal trip from what might be the earlier of his two weekend choices to visit The Farm, and potentially more than two months if he schedules Stanford in December, will he hold out long enough for the Cardinal? Could Paulson pull the trigger later this month after completing the official trips to his two favorites?
"Not unless one of the visits blows me away, and I absolutely know that is the place for me," he says.
Weighing heavily on his mind are these options, but the option offense he has to run as a senior at Auburn Riverside gives him plenty on his plate. The tight end recruit was moved this off-season to quarterback the Ravens' offense, which was not an obvious position switch given his background.
"I had to working on throwing the ball because I had never played quarterback before," he admits. "My brother is our offensive coordinator, though, and he knew I could throw."
With 47-28, 31-0 and 42-14 victories in the first three games of his senior season, Paulson is having plenty of success. In his debut under center, he ran for 108 yards and threw for 94. Paulson attempted just two passes in that game, completing them both... for touchdowns. He ran for another 51-yard score. The next week he completed 5-of-8 passing, including another touchdown in the air and rushing another on the ground. This past weekend he hit a third passing score and ran for two more.
"I'm starting to get pretty comfortable," he allows.
That much is apparent. The question on the minds of half the Pac-10 today is when he will be able to say the same about recruiting. For that, we will stay tuned to his evolving story in the coming weeks.
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