In an exclusive and wide-ranging interview with TheBootleg.com earlier this week, Joe McNamara shared his reasons for picking Stanford, what he can bring to the program as a football player, and his thoughts on what is in store for the future of Stanford football.
Andy Drukarev, TheBootleg.com: Why did you pick Stanford?
Joe McNamara: A lot of people ask me that. Not only does Coach really fire me up about football, but I thought about it, and when I took football out of the picture, there’s nothing better than walking away from Stanford with a degree. That opens so many doors for me when I’m done with college.
AD: I know that you had an opportunity to visit Stanford before you made your commitment. When did you visit and what were your impressions of the school?
JM: I took the visit two weeks ago. Just getting into California was beautiful. The weather is awesome. Getting a chance to drive up Palm Avenue and right into the campus was beautiful. The campus is set up so well because everything is either five or ten minutes walking distance and probably five minutes riding distance and the people there are great. The campus just seems very homey and very roomy.
I visited with pretty much all the coaches when I was down there. I got to meet with Mr. Harbaugh, Coach Taggart and Coach Drevno. We also met a couple of students, a couple of players, and got a chance to sit down and talk with a professor and then got to sit in on a class. They put a lot into the two days that I was up there.
I also met Bert McBride, who is the center for Stanford right now. He’s just a great guy and all-around nice guy who knows everybody, and everybody loves him. He’s really easy to talk to, and from what I hear he’s a pretty good player too.
AD: Was that your first time visiting California?
AD: Does the distance worry you?
JM: A lot of people ask me that too. The way I think about it, Stanford is really just a plane ride away. No matter where I go, unless it’s an in-state school, I’m going to have to fly there. I mean, we talked about it with my parents and they’re alright with it and I think I’ll be alright with it. I probably won’t get to see them as much as I’d like to, but I think we’ll be alright.
AD: What other schools offered you and what other schools were showing interest?
JM: Stanford, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Wisconsin, FIU and Iowa State all offered. Pitt was real interested and I think Tennessee was pretty interested but that’s really it.
AD: What was the hardest school for you to turn down?
JM: Definitely Wake Forest. I liked a lot of things about it. The coaches were great when I got a chance to meet them. It was a toss-up between Stanford and Wake for a long time. It was tough talking to the Wake coach and letting him know my decision.
AD: Why did you decide to end your recruitment early instead of waiting until closer to signing day to make a decision?
JM: I felt like [Stanford] is the best it’s going to get. I really just wanted to make my decision and focus on my senior year of being around my teammates, being a leader and being able to go out, have fun and not worry so much about college.
AD: Who was your Stanford recruiting coach and what was your impression of him?
JM: Willie Taggart. He’s great. He’s a Florida boy just like me. He knows pretty much what hard work is. He’s an all-around great guy. He’s real easy to talk to and he pretty much knows his stuff.
AD: What position are they recruiting you for and do you have a preference?
JM: Right now they see me as playing center for them and I’m fine with that. I haven’t played center in awhile, but I’m perfectly fine with that. I’d love to play center for them.
AD: What did the Stanford coaches tell you they liked about your game?
JM: I mean they focused a lot on how well they thought I moved my feet and how well I got off the ball and finished blocks. They really liked that.
AD: What do you think your strengths are on the football field?
JM: Definitely I think my biggest strength is just being coachable. If you’re coachable you can pretty much have someone help you master anything. Everybody’s fast and everybody’s strong, but it takes a lot of mental preparation and just being coachable and being able to take criticism to make yourself better from it.
AD: You’re also a standout high school wrestler. Do you have plans to play two sports in college, and did any universities show interest in you for wrestling?
JM: I talked to my dad and he was my coach in wrestling. It would be awesome to roll around on the mat but I doubt that I could do two sports collegiately competitively. I might be able to get in the room and roll around with the heavyweights that they had, but I don’t think I’ll be able to do both.
Iowa State had talked to me about playing football and wrestling, which was really exciting because Iowa State’s wrestling program is top-notch, but other than that not really.
AD: With your recruitment now over, what are your goals, both football and academic, for your senior year?
JM: This season’s going to be real big because we have a lot young guys. I want to work on my leadership skills and being able to convey ideas across to people. My personal goals are to get bigger, faster, and stronger, and to be able to see things before they happen -- that way I can react better to them. In the classroom, I want to keep up with my studies and try to stay away from that slack-off year that most seniors get.
AD: What are your summer plans?
JM: Actually, Monday we start our strength and conditioning program for our school. It’s a great program. We have a top-notch trainer who comes in and works us out real hard. Later on in the summer, sometime in July, I’m going up to a camp with the wrestling team. Other than that, I want to stay real local and am not really planning on going to any camps or doing any combines. I’d rather be on the gridiron with my teammates and my buddies working real hard.
AD: Do you plan on trying to recruit other uncommitted players to come to Stanford?
JM: I mean, I’m not going to go out of my way and find them but if they come up and ask, I’m definitely going to tell them what I think. I think the person who’s being recruited has the decision and that they should have the right to make their own decision and not have any outside influence from somebody else that decided to go to that school.
AD: Do you know any other 2010 prospects that might be interested in Stanford?
JM: I actually know Brandon Linder and Stanford is real interested in him. He plays for St. Thomas Aquinas. He’s a great player and a great kid. He’s been kind of curious about Stanford, so I mean if he gives me a call or asks me anything, I’m going to be more than happy to help him.
AD: What are your academic numbers, and did you take any honors classes or AP classes this year?
JM: I finished off the school year this semester with a 3.8 GPA. I think I took three honors classes this year and an AP class. I took the SAT and got a two-part score of 1100. The three part would be 1600, with a 500 on the writing. I also took the ACT and got a 26.
AD: When you were on the visit, did you get a chance to talk with the Stanford staff about the admissions process?
JM: We got a chance to sit down with the admission counselor during breakfast and he pretty much laid out the entire application process for us. He went through it step-by-step and it’s just like any other application. You just need to show the university who you are and why you should go to Stanford.
AD: How solid is your commitment to Stanford?
JM: As of right now I’m pretty much just waiting on taking my official to Stanford. If I take a couple of other visits, it’s not like I’m not planning them out. Like I told the coaches once I make my decision, I’m not going back on it. I sat down and though real hard about it and decided Stanford was the place for me.
AD: What do you see as the future of Stanford football?
JM: From the way that coach Harbaugh and his staff are working to recruit these guys, I see great things in the future for Stanford. With the mentality that the coaches have and the mentality that the players have, something big to happen.
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