Roll (over) Tide: Taboada "100 percent" Card

Stanford already has beaten Alabama on the recruiting trail in the not-so-distant past. The recruit in question was a quarterback named Andrew Luck. In this ongoing war between the Shades of Red, the Cardinal are locked in to win another battle against the Crimson Tide, this time, at the tight end position.

Six-foot-four, 242-pound Atlanta native Greg Taboada remains "100 percent" committed to Stanford. He's another crucial Farm Boy poach from SEC territory as the Cardinal pipeline to Georgia continues to run strong. In fact, eight players on the current roster are from the Peach State: David Yankey, Henry Anderson, Chase Thomas, Jordan Watkins, James Vaughters, Ronnie Harris, Ra'Chard Pippens, and Jamal-Rashad Patterson.

As for Taboada, a closer look suggests he can be a perfect fit in Stanford's system. His Marist School offense ran the triple option, making him a polished run blocker.

"We only passed two to three times a game," he said. "So I know how stay low. We did a lot of run blocking. All that's left is going out and catching passes."

According to FOX Sports Next recruiting analyst Chad Simmons, receiving at the next level shouldn't be a problem. "Taboada has very soft hands and does a great job of snatching the ball out of the air," Simmons said.

Still, bulldozing ground-blocking will come in handy for a Stanford team that ran the ball on nearly 58 percent of its 2012 snaps. When the Cardinal did pass, often quarterbacks found Zach Ertz and his fellow tight ends. In turn, Taboada has noticed the opportunities that position group enjoys to catch the rock.

"One thing that really stood out to me is that Stanford currently has the most tight ends in the NFL," Taboada said, referencing the Cardinal quintet at the next level: Jim Dray, Coby Fleener, Evan Moore, Konrad Reuland, and Alex Smith (the 2004 Mackey Award runner-up, not the 49ers quarterback). "They know how to involve tight ends in the offense."

USC also currently has five NFL tight ends, though Stanford can gain the upper hand if Zach Ertz and/or Levine Toilolo jump to the next level after the Rose Bowl. Those draft decisions may also impact where Taboada begins on the Cardinal roster, as Stanford's staff has also been looking at the versatile athlete as a hard-working defensive end who can motor down opposing quarterbacks.

Idaho's Eric Cotton is the other current committed tight end in the Cardinal's 2013 class, while recent Texas decommit Durham Smythe announced he would visit the Farm on the weekend of January 11. This is the same school that inked Ertz, Toilolo, and Ryan Hewitt (a fullback who has seen time at tight end) in the same year, so there is a strong precedent for a three-tight end haul.

Academically, Stanford's rich history intrigues Taboada. He cited the university's Hewlett and Packard buildings, two adjacent structures on the engineering side of campus that impressed him during his unofficial summer visit. Distance from home is no longer an issue.

"I'm ready to go out to California and make great new connections," he said. "It will be a new experience for me, and I'm looking forward to it."

Taboada will take his official visit in January. In the meantime, David Shaw and his staff will try to beat Alabama on the recruiting trail one more time, this for the services of Florida wide receiver Jordan Cunningham (radio interview here), who will choose between the Cardinal, Crimson Tide, Notre Dame, Miami, and Oklahoma State.


David Lombardi covers Stanford sports for The Bootleg and FOX Sports Next. He can also be heard on San Francisco's 95.7 The Game. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @davidmlombardi.


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