Graham Shuler commitment Q and A

The first domino in what's shaping up to be a talented 2012 offensive line class fell Monday night for Stanford, as Tennessee OL Graham Shuler pulled the trigger on a commitment to the Card. The three star recruit gave The Bootleg the inside scoop behind his commitment in an interview last week.

The Bootleg: When did you decide that you would be committing to Stanford?
Graham Shuler: I actually decided a couple of weeks ago but I've really just been praying about it and talking about it with my coaches and my family and just really making sure that this is the best decision for me and at the end of last week, I just really realized this is it, this is where I want to be and what I want to do.

I sat down with my coaches a couple of weeks ago, my high school coaches, and talked to them about it, and then this week talked to them again and told them I was ready to pull the trigger, so they're ecstatic for me, they're excited, my family's ecstatic.

The Stanford coaches kind of know it's coming, but they don't know for sure, so my main intent of this trip is to get out there and sit down with Coach Shaw and just tell him what's going on.

TB: What were some of the main, maybe two or three factors that led to you choose Stanford?
GS: Well, when I initially started this whole recruiting process, I had kind of a list of things that I really wanted to look for in a school. Those were first of all going to a school that really wanted me, a school that was adamant about me and really, really wanted me, and Stanford has done that really hard. They're probably one of the top-five schools that's recruited me the hardest. They're in very frequent contact with me and I'm in pretty frequent contact with them, so that was one thing, to go where I was wanted.

Secondly, I looked at the ability to play in big games, win big games, play at a big time program, be a championship contender, under the same umbrella. They definitely fit that criteria, especially after this past season, so I'm very excited about the opportunity I have to play in the Pac-12 and pursue National Championships, conference championships and whatnot, so that's really exciting to me.

Also, I wanted to go to a school where I could get an incredible academic environment and a great education that would prepare me for my future. There's no better school in the country that can prepare me for the field like Stanford can and the rest of my life in the classroom.

TB: I know you said you got to know Coach Sanford really well over the course of your recruitment. Talk to me about your relationship with him, as well as the offensive line coaches, and what role that all played in your choice.
GS: Well when I started this process I was warned don't go somewhere based on coaches. At the same time you want to go somewhere where you have a great relationship with the coaches because the kind of coaches that are there now, the higher ups will probably hire similar types later on so it's kind of (inaudible) to look at. I hope that I get to play all five years with every single one of those coaches that are there now. I love every single one of them.

I really have a great relationship with Coach Sanford, Coach Bloomgren, Coach Crook. I talk to them all frequently. Especially Coach Sanford, just because he's my regional recruiter. I talk to them a ton, really, really like Coach Shaw, enjoyed my time when I was up there talking to him [on my first visit to Stanford] and I've talked to him a couple of times since I've been back home. I love them all.

TB: If I remember correctly, when I first talked to you back in March, you mentioned that one of the reasons you wanted to make a relatively early decision was so that you could help build a class. Is that something you still plan to do, trying to recruit other kids, and at this point do you have any in mind?
GS: I mean, right now I'm very excited about my decision. I'm not really sure what all I'm allowed to do. I want to better Stanford as much as possible and I will be a spokesperson, advocate for them for the rest of my life. So might as well start now. I want to be the best, I want to be on the team that's the best, and that happens by surrounding yourself with the best players.

There's tons of great athletes around the country and I would love them to come join me at Stanford. My boy Mark Harrell just committed at Notre Dame. I was going to try to take him up there with me, but he just committed to Notre Dame. My other boy Justin Meredith just committed to UNC, so those are two of my guys that I had kind of in the back of my mind. I've really just been focused on myself and really just trying to make sure I take care of myself first through this process but now that I've kind of come to that conclusion I can start rummaging around Scout or whatnot, kind of figuring out who I need to send a Facebook message to or whatever. I've already connected with Aziz and some of those guys, some of the guys who have already committed, Dontonio. We're excited about getting together this weekend.

TB: So it seems like you're pretty solid in your decision at this point. No more offers out there that could change your mind?
GS: There aren't any more offers I don't think that would change my mind. I'm locked in. Me and my dad had this analogy that it's like this whole process has been like dating: I feel like I'm on The Bachelor and seeing all these different girls slash colleges and you get to the point where it's like okay, pick one, you narrow it down and you pick one, and now I'm getting engaged to Stanford, and you don't get engaged to a girl you don't plan to marry, so that's how I am. I'm getting engaged, I'm committing and I'm in it for the long haul.

TB: Are you pretty familiar with the Stanford application process at this point?
GS: I am. I still have to jump threw some hoops to make all that happen, but I had a very, very good academic year this last year and have tested well, so I feel pretty confident going in to this next year.

TB: What's your GPA up to now?
GS: I finished this semester with a 3.9, and the semester before that was like a 3.58 or something like that so I'm not really sure where it's up to, but I had a really good year this year.

TB: Then in terms of your future position, it's still the case that they haven't locked you into any, they like the your versatility all along the offensive line?
GS: That's the great thing, the thing I like about myself and the thing they like about me, that I am versatile and that I can play tackle, guard, center, I played tight end my freshman year, so we've talked about putting me at that second tackle when they load up in that power stuff, or at tackle, guard, center, they know that I've called my offense from left tackle the last two years, they know I would be comfortable doing that at center. Really it's just wherever they want to play me, I'm great to play, I want to be on the field and contribute, so that's what it boils down to for me.

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