In the continuation of a blistering start to the 2009 recruiting class, Stanford secured the fifth public commitment of the class yesterday when Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter High School offensive lineman Camden Wentz pulled the trigger in a phone conversation with the coaching staff. In a sign of the staggering pace of the recruiting effort being pushed by Jim Harbaugh and his staff, Wentz gives the Cardinal a second commit from far-away Georgia at a time in the calendar that is earlier than Stanford had previously received its second commitment overall in any previous year. The 6'4" 275-pound interior lineman also gives the Cardinal their bulkiest commit so far in a year in which they are aiming to upgrade their personnel in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
As Wentz described in a conversation earlier this month with The Bootleg, Stanford occupied a favored spot in his recruitment as soon as they became the first school to offer him. A trip at the outset of the month for Stanford's Junior Day solidified their status in his mind. A little over two weeks later, Wentz was ready to pull the trigger.
"I had a break today from school," the brand new commit related last night. "I called Coach Harbaugh and just kind of talked to him about what I was thinking and everything and then I sat down with my parents and told them that I really wanted to make my decision today and where I wanted to be. I couldn't see myself going pretty much anywhere else, so why hold out just to procrastinate? So I just called them back tonight. He was in the staff room and he told them all and they all just started clapping and stuff, so it was pretty cool."
After the euphoria of committing had died down, Wentz dove into a conversation with his future position coach.
"Then I talked to Coach [Chris] Dalman for a while, who I'm really excited to play for," Wentz offers. "When I was out there, all the players were saying how he is like the best offensive line coach they've ever had and everything. So it's a pretty sweet deal that I get to play for him. And then I talked to him for a little bit about it and he asked me about how I was doing and how it's going in Georgia and everything."
Though Wentz projects as either a center or guard and gives Dalman his first future pupil of the recruiting class, talk of football projection and depth charts could wait. With recent tornado damage to Wentz' hometown of Atlanta estimated at 27 injuries and $250 million, the conversation focused on more immediate concerns.
"He was asking me about [how] we've had the bad weather here in the Atlanta area the past few weekends," Wentz says. "I guess he wanted to know how that was going and all that kind of stuff. It really wasn't about the whole football thing. I'm going out there for camp this summer so I can get with them, work with them before, so I'm sure he'll talk with me about [football] a little bit then."
In the meantime, Wentz joins others in the Atlanta area in being affected by the news-making weather that disrupted the region and caused plenty of damage.
"It pretty much reached about a month ago; it hit our area," Wentz recounts. "But we live in a new neighborhood so there aren't any trees or anything. They kind of leveled it all when they built the neighborhood. There was some around our neighborhood but nothing that serious. No one died or anything. But you know they had tornadoes hit through downtown. It hit the Dome, moved the SEC basketball tournament and everything, so that's what he was asking about I think."
"The weather here is wacky," the Georgian concludes. "It will be like 75 one day and 30 the next day and it will be bright sun and all of a sudden it will turn to tornado weather. It's crazy, not very predictable."
In contrast, "when I was out there, it seemed like it was going to be sunny every day," Wentz says of his future home in California.
He will have an opportunity to spend some more time in Palo Alto when he visits for a football camp at Stanford in June. While there, he plans on spending some extra time in California to augment his experience and increase his exposure to the Golden State following his previous trip for the March 1 Junior Day.
While Wentz joined a predominantly Californian contingent of recruits at that Junior Day, he was joined on the trip by fellow Marietta resident David Paulsen. Though not at Stanford that weekend, Duluth (Ga.) Northview's Brock Sanders committed to Stanford the next week. The two commitments from Sanders and Wentz and the strong interest from Paulsen give Stanford an undeniable early foothold in the Peach State this year. Wentz has already struck up a friendship with Paulsen and hopes to reach out to Sanders as well.
"I called David today after the decision and talked to him about it," Wentz shares. "He was really happy for me and everything. He talked about how he's going to go through the application process before he makes his final decision on anything. There's a kid from Northview that committed so I'm going to try to get in contact with him and talk to him about it. I'll try to get his phone number and text him or message him or something."
Just as Wentz plans on calling other recruits about Stanford, he can perhaps expect other college suitors to emerge. With over 10 months to go until Signing Day, much can occur to alter the dynamics of individual recruitments. At this stage, however, Wentz does not envision a high likelihood that his decision will change.
"Pretty solid," he says of his Stanford commitment. "It's where I want to be and the only thing that would ever change my mind is if something bad happened or I don't even know. I can't think of a specific reason I would change my mind. I don't think I would. I'm pretty content on going to Stanford even though I have a long time to sit on it and think about it but I don't see myself changing. I mean, I already have a Stanford sticker on my car."
Notably, he says he initially favored a different school. Stanford later captured his attention by getting in early and extending him his first and so far only offer. At the moment, he now seems set on Stanford and unlikely to look back.
"Before I even started talking with Stanford, before that even happened, I really liked Wake Forest a lot," Wentz claims. "I was telling myself that if it ever came around, that was probably where I'd end up. But Stanford came about, I went out there, I fell in love with it, and it was so much better than Wake. I don't see my decision ever changing."
While many recruits across the nation are just seeing their recruitments gear up and are preparing for a flurry of visits to possible college destinations, Wentz dispensed with much of that ritual and is comfortable declaring his intention to sign with Stanford before his recruitment could even heat up. Consequently, his offseason focus lies on more mundane details of football and life.
"We'll start probably the week after school ends," Wentz begins in laying out his high school team's offseason and his plans in general. "We'll start doing our morning workouts, which are about four or five days a week in the mornings at like 7:00. I think we have a team camp, like a team development camp, at Auburn, I think, that the whole team is going to. Other than that, I'll probably do work, maybe. Try to get out to Palo Alto once, maybe twice. Keep in contact with the coaches and all that kind of stuff. I might go to one or two other camps but I haven't even looked into that yet. Nothing big, just kind of getting bigger, getting stronger."
Camden Wentz is Stanford's fifth public commitment and first offensive line commit. His senior year will be his fourth as a letterman and key lineman for Lassiter.
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