James Vaughters: Coach Harbaugh leaving, although not a complete surprise, caused me to re-evaluate my commitment, only because of not knowing who would be his replacement. I love everything about Stanford, but I would not want to experience the pre-Harbaugh Stanford football and not knowing who would replace him was a little unsettling. I had developed a great rapport with Coach Tressel and I would have loved to have played for him and attended school at Ohio State, but Stanford, I believe, is the right place for me.
What was the best experience of your recruiting process, as well as the worst?
JV: I really liked getting a chance to see the schools during our official visits and a couple of the games were pretty amazing. We were in the front row for the Ohio State vs USC game in Columbus where they had 106,000 fans. Wow! We saw a great game between Florida and Arkansas in "The Swamp" in front of 90,000+.
I would have to say the worst part of the experience was having to turn down some great programs and coaches. As I was narrowing it down, I really hated having to turn down coaches like Jim Tressel, Nick Saban, Mark Richt, Paul Johnson, Urban Meyer, Butch Davis, Will Muschamp, etc.
Since you're one of the highest-profile recruits in this class of 2011, with literally your choice of school to attend this fall, I'm curious what (if any) negative recruiting regarding Stanford other schools, particularly the traditional powerhouses, tried to lay on you?
JV: Some of my favorites were, "our academics are not Stanford, but they are not bad"; "Stanford won't be good every year, just look at their track record"; "your parents won't be able to come to all of your games"; "we produce NFL players, especially LBs...name the Stanford NFLers". It actually wasn't as nasty as I thought it might be. Stanford has an earned and established academic reputation.
How did the rest of your team members react when you committed to Stanford? Were the reactions positive or negative? How about close friends and family members?
JV: My team members were pretty excited for me, because of the Stanford academic reputation and they know how serious I am about academics. I do think a lot of people wanted me to stay close at Georgia Tech or Georgia, but I really wanted to go away to school. I could say some of the same things about close friends and family, as well. For those that know a little something about Stanford, they were really excited for me. It certainly helps that the Stanford program is on the rise and went 12-1 after I committed. It made me look like a genius for picking Stanford, but it was really the academics that drove my decision. 12-1 was nice "icing on the cake" and still leaves me with a unique opportunity to be part of a Stanford National Championship.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years…and then 20 years?
JV: In 10 years, I'd like to see myself still playing in the NFL. I believe the Stanford coaching staff can help me get there, if I am fortunate enough to be that good. In 20 years, I see myself using my Stanford Architecture degree to own and operate my own architecture firm and use my foundation to mentor younger, disadvantaged kids interested in a career in Architecture.
Did classmates or others pressure you to stay in the region or go to an SEC school?
JV: I felt the most pressure in stay in state from mostly fans on the internet and the blogs. It is something to see how the internet has given so many fans an opportunity to express how passionate they are about their own programs. I really loved the programs in state like Georgia and Georgia Tech, and the regional programs like Alabama, Florida, Auburn, UNC, Miami, Ohio State and others, but Stanford was the place I felt was best for me after my first visit for Junior Day.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Q and A with Vaughters, focusing on his Stanford future.