Shittu taking his talents to Stanford

First, the standard disclaimer. Verbal commitments made in April of prospect's junior year are just that – verbal commitments made in April. They don't always stick all the way to signing day. Moreover, recruiting rankings, while generally a decent predictor of a player's future success, are by no means gospel.

That said, the commitment of Buhach Colony High School (Atwater) defensive lineman Aziz Shittu, Scout's No. 7 defensive tackle and No. 49 overall 2012 prospect in the nation, is huge news for Stanford football.

Ranking Perspective

If Shittu holds steady at No. 49, he'll be a five-star prospect – Stanford's first since signing Shayne Skov in 2009. Shittu would be Stanford's highest-ranked defensive line recruit since Julian Jenkins signed in 2002.

Further, barring a dramatic and unforeseen fall, Shittu will be only the 10th four-plus star defensive line recruit the Cardinal has signed since 2002, when began ranking recruits. The previous four-star defensive linemen were Julian Jenkins, Levirt Griffin, Sione Fua, Ekom Udofia, Will Powers, Matt Masifilo, Matt Traverso, Blake Lueders, and Terrance Stephens.

Recruiting top-notch interior defensive linemen has been even harder for Stanford. Fua, Udofia, Masifilo, and Stephens were the only four interior defensive line prospects the Cardinal have signed prior to Shittu. If Shittu holds steady at No. 49, he'll be the highest ranked defensive tackle Stanford has ever signed, at least since started ranking recruits.

Offer Perspective While he doesn't have the sheer number of offers that recent Stanford defensive commits like Wayne Lyons and James Vaughters did, Shittu's offer list is impressive by any measure.

Shittu's offers include USC, which offered after his standout performance at the USC NIKE camp, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, Washington, California, UCLA, Colorado, and Arizona State, among many others, according to Scout. Shittu's 16 offers, and the quality of those offers, ranks in the upper echelon of Stanford defensive recruits in recent years.

It's also worth noting that because of new NCAA legislation, schools are no longer permitted to dispense written scholarship offers to high school juniors, which may be reducing the number of offers schools make.

On-field Perspective

Here's where the magnitude of Shittu's commitment really comes into focus. For a general assessment of Shittu's talents, The Bootleg asked Scout's West Coast recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman to provide an evaluation.

"Shittu is cat-quick off the ball, with very good size, and well put-together," said Huffman. "He has a quick first step and he is an ideal big defensive end at the next level in a 3-4, with the quickness, athleticism and agility to do so. The strength to handle interior lineman and double teams, but the quickness to sneak out to the edge and get past athletic tackles as a right defensive end. Like many defensive linemen who are bigger than HS OLs, he gets away with his size and strength at the prep level but just needs to refine his technique, and that will come in time. Already college-ready."

"He's one of the better defensive tackles in the West in the last five years, and easily one of the most versatile, probably the most versatile inside/outside lineman since Lawrence Guy. Shittu is already ranked in the Top 50 nationally by, and I expect him to be a five-star and remain in the Top 50 when the rankings expand."

The Los Angeles NIKE camp early last month showcased Shittu's talents, as Shittu opened eyes across the country with a dominant performance that helped him garner the defensive line MVP award.

Scout's Director of Scouting Scott Kennedy had high praise for Shittu's showing.

"The pass rushing drills are skewed to favor the defensive line, so we're accustomed to seeing defensive linemen handily beat the offensive linemen, but Shittu put on a show of a different kind," wrote Kennedy. "He displayed a variety of skills that enabled him to be virtually unblockable."

"Shittu lined up at right and left end and at both defensive tackle positions. He beat guards, tackles, and everyone that got in front of him with a combination of power and speed that let him blow past bigger lineman and overpower smaller linemen."

"I charted wins/losses during the one-on-ones and it got to the point that I stopped writing down Shittu's number unless someone beat him. No one did."

Stanford can only hope that dominance transitions to Pac-12 play.

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