There is no question that there has been the heaviest attention and excitement in this 2004 recruiting class on the offensive line, where Stanford is still working frantically to undo the damage left by the previous coaching staff. After Kirk Chambers and Mike Sullivan graduate this year, there will be no offensive tackles more senior than the green 2002 recruiting class, and just one interior lineman older than this fall's redshirt freshmen. Though this Cardinal recruiting year may only allow for a class of 12-16 scholarships, I would not be surprised to see five of them go to top offensive line talents.
Stanford also made headlines in its last recruiting haul with two-sport athletes, including three Student Sports Grid-Hoop All Americans. Basketball was the second sport of choice for the 2003 class, but baseball has historically been the calling for Stanford's two-field athletes of greatest fame. Darin Naatjes played both just recently on The Farm before being snatched up by the Philadelphia Phillies, and Joe Borchard grabbed nationwide acclaim in both sports before his jump to the Chicago White Sox and a rapid ascension through the ranks. Quarterback/pitcher Chad Hutchinson is just 26 years old but has already played professionally in both Major League Baseball and the National Football League. And the list goes on.
But it took even me by surprise that these two pervasive themes would converge in the form of a single recruit in this 2004 class. Geoff Schwartz of Pacific Palisades (CA) is truly a unique specimen, standing at 6'7" and 300 pounds and squarely in the crosshairs for both Buddy Teevens and Mark Marquess this summer. This offensive tackle has garnered a handful of offers already in football, but is also a highly intriguing baseball prospect as a pitcher. Spend a few minutes picturing those two positions at the Stanford level in the form of one rising high school senior. Bizarre.
On the gridiron, Schwartz played offensive tackle, tight end, defensive tackle and long snapper for Palisades, with his best talents on the O-line. "We started the year in a two-tight end formation, where I was more of a blocking tight end," he explains. "But that offense didn't work too well. So the last five games of the season we put in a new offense, with more power-I formations. I played left tackle and played my best football. Tight end is a lot of fun, too. College coaches say that I move well, and they like my pad level and leverage. I get to blocks easily and pass block the best right now."
On defense he recorded 30 tackles, four sacks, four forced fumbles, two recovered fumbles and two pass deflections. But schools are looking at Schwartz almost exclusively on the other side of the ball. "Defense is fun, going after the quarterback, but I don't think that's very realistic for me in college," he offers.
Offensive tackle certainly is more than a realistic shot for Schwartz, though, already with three Pac-10 full offers in hand. The Arizona Wildcats were the first to jump on board, followed by Stanford earlier this month at their Junior Day and then just this week by UCLA after a one-day camp at Westwood. He is hearing from several more schools, though, including USC, Oregon, Cal, Notre Dame, Colorado and Nebraska. He names his current favorites as Stanford, Arizona, UCLA, USC, Oregon and Cal. There is no coincidence that his top schools share a geographic bond.
"I wouldn't mind going away," Schwartz opines. "But I really like the the West Coast."
Arizona was the first school to really hit the Palisades product hard, starting with their phone conversations in May. And though the Cats were the first to offer, Schwartz was already talking personally with Karl Dorrell at UCLA and Mike Bellotti at Oregon. When he made the trek up I-5 to visit Stanford a couple weeks ago for their Junior Day, he also had good face time with Cardinal head man Buddy Teevens. "Coach Teevens pulled me aside at Junior Day and we talked for 15 to 20 minutes," he tells. "We talked about academics, how he liked my tape and Stanford overall. We talked baseball, too, and how he supports guys playing two sports."
This was not the first time Schwartz had spent time on The Farm, though; he traveled to their football camp last summer. "I liked the staff a lot," he comments. "The new facilities are really nice and the campus is of course great. I also really like their coaching philosophy. Stanford was already in my top five before, but this offer bumped them up a little bit."
Most recently the jumbo athlete finished a day of camp at UCLA and was
favorably impacted by the experience. "I really liked the coaching
staff and especially the
offense line coach, Coach Weber. I liked the coaching staff's attitude toward getting better and working hard. I did very well on the pass rush one-on-one drills. It was a helmet and shoulder pad camp so it was much easier to block the defenders," Schwartz details. "I have always been a huge Bruin fan since I live in LA, and my parents are from UCLA. I was very excited about the offer."
As noted above, the 6'7" recruit has a diffuse list of favorite schools but would like to narrow them down to a top three or five soon. He says that the seminal event and issue will actually come on the baseball diamond in the next couple weeks.
Schwartz is regarded highly as a pitcher in Southern California and is aiming for a spot at the elite Area Code Games this summer. He went 10-2 this recently concluded junior season, with a 1.50 ERA on 63 1/3 innings. He threw 73 strikeouts versus just 27 walks and allowed only a .200 opposing batting average. He started ten games and threw in some capacity in almost every league game for Palisades Charter, including four saves. He throws a mean fastball, a good curve and uses the change-up. Schwartz is good at getting ground outs throughout his performances.
From July 2 to 6 he will be at Stanford's baseball camp, and he is looking forward to the Cardinal coaches' assessment of him there. That will educate him as to just how strong his baseball prospects may be to play at the Pac-10 level. "It'll tell me about my future and whether I can do both sports," he says.
Schwartz and Teevens have already talked about that two-sport future, though. "He says playing baseball is OK with them as long as it doesn't interfere with football, since that pays the scholarship," he relays. "And it's important to not miss spring football."
The good news is that pitching carries less demands during those spring conflicts, given that you don't throw throughout the week. Position players by contrast have more regular demands in the field and at the plate. But one thing working against Schwartz in this pursuit is the clash of conditioning styles that come between an offensive lineman and a pitcher.
His baseball coaches have discouraged him from much weight lifting, which tightens up his shoulder. At the same time he says that his greatest area where he can improve on the football field would be strength, given how little he has lifted thus far in his career. That clash will only be magnified at the college level, where the demands and specificity of each sport will intensify. Some small encouragement is that a new baseball coach has taken over at Palisades Charter and is installing a new weight regimen. "We didn't really have any lifting before, so this is a new philosophy for us," he explains. "I'm trying to find a medium between baseball and football right now."
Oh, and for good measure, add basketball to his activities list. Schwartz will be hooping it up on the AAU circuit this summer in addition to his baseball summer league and camps. Look for him to play with Total Impact and travel to the biggest summer event in the country - the Adidas Big Time in Las Vegas in late July.
As strong as his athletic abilities and diversity, Geoffrey Schwartz is also a standout student. He carries what he says is an unweighted 3.3/3.4 in the classroom, which is a strong core GPA ignoring honors points. He already nailed a 27 on the ACT and took the test a second time earlier this month, shooting for a 30. Schwartz has the Stanford admissions application in hand and is diving in. "I want it done ASAP," he plainly comments.
Co-defensive coordinator Tom Williams is the lead recruiter for this talented athlete, and we all remember how strongly Williams closed for the Cardinal last year with dramatic finishes in the recruitment of both Mark Bradford and Michael Okwo. Schwartz says that he is high on Stanford because of the "coaching staff, power of the degree and the location."
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