No single event has produced this much news and excitement in the recruiting year than the Stanford overnight camp of the last four days. Buddy Teevens drew in an all-star crowd from all over the country, and they showed that they could hold down several spots in this class come February. Here are assesments and rankings of the best of the best who camped multiple days, plus a smattering of recruit scoop.
With a healthy (or unhealthy) dose of sunburn and beat-down from four days of
watching camp activity, I think I have a pretty solid handle on the star
performers at this year's Stanford overnight football camp. I've shared a
few nuggets and recruiting notes from the last two stories, but to wrap up what
I saw Saturday and Sunday, I'm diving right in with my rankings of the top
position groups, and the top performers within each group. See them listed
below, with the linemen taking top honors for their three elite standouts.
||The Stanford coaches have recruited Fletch with a very clear purpose -
to be the center of the future, but he showed awfully well as a DT to
boot (Dave Tipton's eyes lit up on many plays). Great leverage,
power and he plays with his motor in overdrive. The focus of
improvement in this camp was the use of his left hand, which Fletch will
take back to NY and practice. Fiery emotion set the tone for the
camp, and he played through the whistle on every drill. He's the
||Dockter did not impress on defense, but that matters not. He
blew me away with his footwork in drills and one-on-one's. He is a
true glider who is an elite pass blocker at this stage. With a
little improvement in his drive-blocking, he'll push for playing time in
his freshman year of college. Though Dockter takes immense pride
in his technique, he wholly underrated his athleticism. He could
be a better version of Kirk Chambers, and that says a lot.
||Levitre came into this camp with nowhere near the accolades of Fletch
or Bobby. But he left Sunday with four days opening the eyes of
both Steve Morton and Dave Tipton. He's lost a lot of weight, but
still is an incredible force at 310 pounds. Levitre is truly a
two-way prospect who could fit in this class at OG or DT, and that
versatility raises his stock. He's quick and explosive for his
size, but has great leverage and technique. He just moved up the
||In passing drills, it's easy for a WR to look good. Just catch
all the balls thrown at you, honestly. But a closer eye reveals
that Collie stands above other receivers in both technical proficiency
and also his underrated leaping ability. He showed throughout camp
that he also has great hands and comes down with a lot of the tougher
high balls. In the 7-on-7 competitions, it was fun to watch him
play a little quarterback, which is a window into some razzle-dazzle
plays of the future...
||Lynn is one of those Colorado players who showed that I didn't
expect. I had never seen film or even a photo of the kid, so this
was informative. He's not as strong as Collie, or quite the leaper,
but he pulled down a lot of badly thrown balls. Great body control
helped him snag several one-handed catches. I think his
performance made him more interesting to Stanford, but with maybe one or
two WR slots in the class and some high talent ahead, he's a tough call.
||This photo may not do him justice, but this kid from Del Campo HS sure
looks the part. His upper body and arms grabbed my attention, and
at 6'1" 202 pounds he presents a very mature body. But then
he takes off is helmet and you see this baby-faced kid. That's
because Bulter will be a sophomore this fall. He will be a
great looking athlete, though maybe not at WR - pretty raw
and inexperienced right now. Oh, and he says he pulled down
straight A's last year.
||Ironically, I just received Brandon's film the day before camp
started. But watching in person truly makes you a believer.
Very inexperienced, but his instincts take over in critical situations
and he just makes plays. Worked out as both a WR and CB, and he
has high level potential for both. Stanford needs corners so badly
that you have to primarily label him as such, but he was maybe even
better than Collie at attacking balls as a receiver.
||He worked out at the very beginning of camp as a RB, but then Wayne
Moses' wife went into labor and had to leave. So Jones moved over
to defense for the majority of camp. Not quite as quick or as smooth of
hips as Robinson, but he has a good frame that could make for a very
good safety. I only wish I had a chance to really watch him run
||High school teammate of incoming frosh safety Brandon Harrison, and
though a quarterback he is being recruited as an athlete. His best
chance is as defensive back, based on what I saw as a receiver. He
has good closing speed and is a very tough kid. Lost a bunch of
his junior year to injury, so he's one you have to watch this fall to
see meaningful game film.
||I had already seen a lot of C.J. as a quarterback, so there weren't
any real surprises here. But when you are looking for a
quarterback, you are also seeking a lot of intangibles. And in a
camp environment like this, you had a great chance to examine Bacher
from many angles. His leadership, competitiveness and his genuine
love for his teammates and fellow recruits came shining through. I
think he strengthened his case with Stanford.
||If I expected coming into this camp that Liam would be a baseballer in
pigskin clothing, like his older brother David O'Hagan, then I was
proven wrong. Good mechanics (though not the athlete that Bacher
is), and I can understand why he has some Division I scholarship
offers. That being said, I think he's likely a notch below what
Stanford needs in a QB. They'll be watching him at Breck with
Robinson this fall, though, and will see.
||From Buford HS in Georgia, and if that rings a bell, it should.
This is the quarterback teammate of Darius Walker, and as such he has
clearly been overshadowed with such a dominant running talent. It
make sense that Manley is underdeveloped, and he intrigued the coaches
with his raw ability. He would be a bit of a project, though not a
substantial project. Like O'Hagan, Stanford already has a reason
to watch his school this fall.
||I think it's time to move Gibson from the OL recruiting board to TE.
Stanford has serious need at tight end in this class and not a lot of
great prospects, so the door was open for him this week. He hadn't
caught many balls the last two years but looked smooth enough in passing
drills. He was one of only two TEs to also work out with the OL/DL
in line drills, where he showed that he can be a punishing blocker.
||Solder is the more impressive receiving threat, as compared to Gibson,
but he has size and reps on his side. This guy stands at
6'8", which puts him in Darin Naatjes' ZIP code. He looked
great catching the ball for his size, but the huge question is his
ability to block. His frame is slender and he plays basketball all
year, which keeps him from lifting and bulking up. If you demand a
top blocker of your TEs, he's a question mark. But as a receiving
TE, he's hugely attractive.
||This kid had zero rep that I was aware of coming into this camp, but
he has good size at 6'6" and 220 pounds. He looked good
catching the ball and has a prototypical frame. I never talked to
the kid, so I don't have a clue on grades or schools talking with
him. But somebody out there has to be looking at him. And
his high school profile page says that Stanford is his college
preference. Add him to the TE board if the academics are in order.
||Best name of the camp, and he was one I really wanted to watch.
He lost his entire junior year to a broken collarbone, so there is no
film to go on. What camp showed was that he has good athleticism
and instincts that could allow him to be a Kevin Schimmelmann type
player. Camp strongly confirmed that he could be a very important
LB recruit, but you still have to see him play this fall to know what he
does in live game situations.
||Teammate of Philip Ray. And he carried a huge reputation after
his junior year as one of the top prospects in Louisiana. He's a
good player in a great program, but in this camp he looked like his
ceiling might be lower than that of Norris. He's a tough kid who
can attack the ball coming out of the line of scrimmage, but could he
play outside? Might be a prototypical MLB, but you'd love someone
who can play multiple spots in the linebacking corps.
Some additional recruiting notes on these guys...
- Ray Jones was one of the biggest surprise attendees at this camp (to me),
and that gave me the chance to learn a lot more about him and his
recruitment. He is a talented athlete who can play on both sides of
the ball and will be recruited by Stanford with that "athlete"
label. Some schools have him pegged as an RB, some as a DB. But
the consensus from schools throughout the Midwest is that he's a bigtime
player. With the summer just underway, Jones already has offers from Kentucky,
Maryland, Boston College, West Virginia, Duke, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan State,
Indiana, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Ohio and Bowling Green.
I think what the coaches saw at this camp on both sides of the ball
(particularly in 7-on-7 action) moved him up their board and could put him
in an attractive position for an offer. He says that Stanford
"definitely" is one of his top favorites, if not his overall
leader. He was able to meet a lot of the coaches, and has forged
particularly strong bonds with Wayne Moses and Pete McCarty. Both he
and his mother left hugely impressed with the staff, coaches and
school. Academics is #1 on their list (his unofficial visits have been
to Stanford, Northwestern and Duke), which makes me believe Ray Jones is
Stanford's to lose - it's a just a question of the offer right now.
- Brandon Robinson had a great camp on both sides of the ball and might
catch the label of Best Athlete, if not Camp MVP (tough debate between him
and Fletcher). He and his parents loved the visit, so much so that
they cancelled the planned visit to UCLA that was supposed to immediately
follow this Stanford camp. With what he saw at Stanford and BC, he has
a very solid top two schools that he is contemplating. Notre Dame has
asked him to camp so that they can get a closer look, but Robinson says
there are no more camps for him this summer. As for the experience at
this camp, he says, "I did just what I came here to do - prove to the
coaches that I can play both wide receiver and cornerback. I wanted to
show them that I'm every bit of what they saw and liked on tape. I
also improved myself here. Coach Kelly showed me different ways to
come off the line. Coach A.J. [Christoff] worked on my turn-and-go;
shorter steps can help me turn quicker and make faster breaks. All of
the coaches were really cool, and I really enjoyed them. Stanford is
the best, and with that academic reputation, you can't go wrong."
He does still say that Stanford and BC are his top two and won't openly say
that either of these camps broke one ahead of the other. But he was
grinning from ear to ear a lot in this camp, and forged really close bonds
with Fletcher, Collie and Bacher. He also noted that the Stanford
admissions application is now at the forefront of his mind. "I
want to jump on it as soon as possible and show the [Stanford] coaches that
I am serious about my interest," he proclaims.
- Fellow Breck School standout Liam O'Hagan has three offers right now:
Vanderbilt, Boston College and Minnesota. Beyond that he says he is
looking strongly at Stanford, Virginia and Colorado. The Cardinal are
his leader right now, though how his offer landscape progresses will mold
his leader board.
- Before coming to Stanford, John Gibson had big camp performances at USC
and UCLA. Both head coaches gave him the most enthusiastic reviews he
had yet seen from those schools. USC openly says that they have some
guys with offers outstanding they are watching right now, but he is at the
very top of the list next in line. UCLA made intimations that sounded
like an offer could come before long. He worked out at both camps at
OG, with bits of TE intermixed.
- O'Hagan was the man among all these recruits who led his team to the
7-on-7 championship at the camp. Though seeded lowest, his squad went
undefeated in bracket play. The other competitions of the camp were
held in the evening, dubbed the "Cardinal Games." They were
a variation of ultimate frisbee, though using a football rather than a
disc. They were a great form of athletic competition that the guys
were revved up for at the end of some grueling days. The winning squad
was controversially stacked with Fletcher, Bacher, Collie, Robinson, O'Hagan
- Slade Norris doesn't have any offers right now, with all schools anxiously
waiting to see him this fall for the first time since his sophomore
year. He'll play at strong safety and wide receiver for a stacked
Jesuit program in Portland (OR). He is hearing from most of the
Pac-10, plus Colorado, Michigan State and Yale. He names a top five
today of Stanford, Washington, Arizona State, Cal and Colorado.
- All in all, this was the most talent-rich camp Stanford has probably ever
put together. It's tough to get recruits across the country to come
pay their way for a camp, and that will always keep the talent density down
at this annual overnight camp. Further consider that the California
talent (at least, those who have Stanford-level academics) is down this
year, and this 2003 collection is all the more amazing. With Alex
Fletcher as the centerpiece, I can see anywhere from three to six
commitments in this class coming from this camp. The one huge caveat
is that I am not forecasting admissions probabilities - I'm running under
the premise that attendees have the academics and am solely assessing
athleticism and skill level. If any of the above top talents get the
Admissions Axe, then that 3-6 range could shrink. But in a Stanford
class that could number as few as 12 or 13 kids, that is a very high
percentage. And very exciting.
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are
missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as
well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine. Sign up today
for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com
and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!