Read on for part one of our three-part interview with the newest Cardinal commit!
Q. When did you commit?
A. I made it Saturday afternoon in Coach Harbaugh’s office with my family, myself and coach in the room.
Q. How did you go about breaking the news to Coach?
A. I felt bad. We were sitting up in the skybox talking before lunch that same day. I made a comment that now I can easily see why [the staff] took as a commitment. It was just hours before [I committed] but I hadn’t made the decision yet. I mean I knew I loved Stanford but I hadn’t decided I was going to say it yet and they were all wait, wait is that a commitment? And I was like no, no. And they were like ‘Ohhh!’
But after that I realized they were so excited and after the next couple hours, I grew comfortable with the decision and then we were in Coach Harbaugh’s room and I told him I would appreciate some discretion for the next day so I could tell certain coaches that had personally recruited me and I had grown to have relationships with and deserved to hear from me, but I told him I wanted to be part of the Cardinal. He jumped up and shook my hand and hugged my family and then ran outside and told the rest of the staff in their offices. I remember Coach Roman came out of the film room pumping his fist. Everyone was excited, I was excited.
The only moments that haven’t been great since I said it were, in fact, talking to the other great coaches with some great schools and telling them that I wasn’t going to attend their school. You can’t go everywhere but no one jerked my arm about so it really wasn’t too bad. And I called Coach Harbaugh again and that really picked my spirits back up so I’m riding high right now.
Q. What was it you said Saturday afternoon to make the coaching staff think you might commit?
A. We were sitting there in a room and it was Garrett Gladd, another offensive line recruit who honestly probably would have committed with me if I had to guess, but his family wasn’t there so I respect him not committing, otherwise I’d be mad at him. Coach Roman, Coach Drevno and Coach Harbaugh came in and it was just such an engaging conversation and the passion just oozed out of those guys. And some people are going to laugh, but they said we feel like we’re going to win BCS national championships. You look at the young talent and recruits that are starting to come in and it’s not that ridiculous a statement at all. They were clock management away from going to the Rose Bowl this year and I saw how passionate they were.
People say that Coach Harbaugh is going to leave, but I’d be shocked if he went anywhere else. He talks about Stanford like it’s another son. And I just knew that’s where I wanted to go. For a while, the only reason why I didn’t commit earlier on the trip was because I didn’t want to tell other schools that I wasn’t going there. But at the end, we just talked about it and we said if I knew I was coming here, it would be rude to continue the process with anybody else. So I just said ‘Coach, I’m coming here. Let me be the first to tell people who deserve to hear from me and I’m going to be a proud Cardinal.’
Q. Why did you feel like now was the right time for you to make this choice?
A. The only time restraint I ever put on my verbal commitment was that I wanted to know going into my senior year. Some kids love it, but I frankly hate the recruiting process. I mean, I’m not going to lie - when I first started coaches are writing you letters, dropping you cards, asking you to call them and they’re telling you that you’re good instead of you watching as a fan, it’s fun. But you have to start to understand that they’re people making a time commitment and this is their job and it’s not fair to carry on conversation because you think it's fun to hear someone tell you you’re good. So I grew to kind of dislike the process and I tried to narrow it down.
I had my choices down to Pittsburgh, Penn State, Northwestern or Stanford. And I said I wanted to see all those schools. I would not have committed to Stanford on this trip if they had come second because I told myself I wanted to see everything. I didn’t want to get caught up in the moment and commit somewhere I had seen everything. And then I was out at Stanford and I didn’t tell myself that after this trip I was going to make a decision but I knew with conviction I was a Stanford man, so I thought it would be rude and pointless to carry on a process that I’m not really crazy about any longer than I had to.
Q. Judging by your commitment, I’m guessing you enjoyed your time out in Palo Alto. But take me through the actual trip – what type of activities did you participate in?
A. Friday was a lot of tours, a lot of meet and greets. We sat in on a lecture. Just to show you how impressive Stanford is, the person they decided to be our guest lecturer in the class we sat in on was the man who found the REM cycle in sleep [Ed: I’m assuming William Dement, the professor of the popular Sleep and Dreams course?]. The faculty there, I mean Stanford is the polar opposite of [a school with professors] who can’t make it, so they teach. It’s those who can do so well that they don’t want to do it anymore, so they come and teach the best and brightest. I mean they’re so impressive and the class was wonderful and the students are all articulate, and even the football players are just as big, strong, and fast as everyone else but they’re just smarter than the other 116 schools or however many there are.
Then we got to watch practice. They had a lot of scrimmaging going on. It was spirited. The coaches were there and it was positive. I know football players are going to get yelled at, but it’s a lot more fun to go to a place where it’s more positive and constructive criticism than getting yelled at for the sake of getting yelled at. Then I just hung out in the dorms with Andrew Luck and his roommate Griff [Whalen]. I stayed the night, woke up and met up with my parents and we got a tour of the stadium facilities.
Saturday was a lot of talking. We talked with the staff and then the positional staff with the other position recruits. We sat and talked with faculty. I know I want to be a doctor and I met with the head of the Biology department, and the thing that caught me in the moment where I really in my head said, ‘I wanted to commit’ was at the stadium when we went down and had lunch with the chosen faculty members from the different areas of interest from the various recruits there. The overwhelming theme was that at a lot of places as a scholar-athlete, which is what Stanford recruits consider themselves, you have to go into the academic environment and earn respect and defeat the stereotype of being a football player and become a serious student.
At Stanford, the respect is there and it’s yours to lose. People respect the student-athlete because Coach Harbaugh and his predecessors and all the other coaches and their predecessors have done a wonderful job of recruiting people who deserve to be there athletically and academically, so you go in there and the teachers already respect you and are already willing to help you whenever you need, travel accommodations anything like that. Because the people who paved the way before you were great students too. I just could not find a negative, and then we went back to the offices and I committed to Coach Harbaugh, walked around and gave everyone a hug, and went home.
Q. Did you get to know any of the other recruits visiting for the Junior Day?
A. I did, I did. I was the only one to commit unless someone else did today while I was traveling, so I’ve now Facebook-stalked the rest of them and I’m getting my recruiter on.
Austin Blythe, two-time heavyweight wrestling champion from Iowa who’s getting recruited for D-tackle was hanging out in the room across the hall from us in the dorms, so we got pretty close. J.B. Salem and Amir Carlisle were commits there, and I said a quick hello to them after I committed, because we’re going to be spending a lot of time together. And Garrett Gladd, a tackle out of Oklahoma, who really was impressed but his parents couldn’t make it out with him. But I kind of have a gut feeling he would have committed but he didn’t. He didn’t want to make a decision without having his parents involved, which I respected, so I didn’t yell at him too much.
Stay tuned for parts two and three of the Bootleg’s interview with the newest Cardinal commit.
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