Stanford's Saturday afternoon delight echoed February 1, 2012, when the Card closed on multiple top recruits to round out one of their highest-ranked classes ever.
I am officially verbally committed to Stanford University! #cardclass14— Bobby Okereke (@BobbyOkereke) August 11, 2013
On Saturday, Georgia safety Kirk Tucker committed first.
Hours after that, Oregon linebacker Joey Alfieri took the plunge.
And just minutes later, explosive southern California linebacker
Bobby Okereke finished the hat trick.
Suddenly, there were too many electric, hard-hitting highlight reels to view at once. (The sizzle is all below in one spot.) A four-minute grand finale had punctuated a four-hour stretch showcasing Stanford's far-reaching recruiting appeal. Quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford had dubbed the festivities "Super Saturday", but maybe "Statement Saturday" would have been more appropriate: Stanford had beaten USC for a southern California prospect, Oregon for a Portland-area recruit, and poached a defensive back from SEC territory, all within the course of a single afternoon.
It seems like David Shaw's program can do no wrong these days, and Saturday's trifecta just poured more fuel onto a fire that's already raging as fall camp starts this week. Talk about a well-timed momentum boost: The Cardinal amassed its biggest single-day commitment haul since that magical 2012 National Signing Day 18 months ago, when Aziz Shittu, Andrus Peat, and Kyle Murphy all announced that they were Farm-bound.
Thank you to all who have supported me throughout this process, and it feels great to say I've officially committed to Stanford University!— Joey Alfieri (@jalfieri4) August 10, 2013
Okereke told The Bootleg that he and Alfieri choreographed their simultaneous commitments, though Alfieri apparently jumped the gun by about four minutes when he pulled the Twitter trigger. The hard-hitting Oregonian, who attends Owen Marecic's alma mater Jesuit High School and plays like a turbo-charged version of the former Stanford fullback, spurned Mark Helfrich's Ducks and much of the Pac-12 when he chose Stanford.
"Stanford offers me the opportunity to be more than just an athlete, and be seen as a complete and balanced individual," Alfieri told the Northwest Elite Index. "At the end of the day, I had to look at the big picture. Stanford was just an overall better fit academically and athletically."
While echoing the sentiments of the 14 other players who have already committed to play for Stanford in this 2014 recruiting cycle, those words illustrate the magnetic pull that the Cardinal program has established over the living rooms of prized prospects all across America. Saturday's trifecta confirmed that the stock of Stanford football is at an all-time high.
Beating USC for any prospect, particularly one from Orange County, was a pipe dream for the Cardinal just a few years ago. Now, it's regularity, and in the case of Okereke, an absolute lock. The rangy linebacker, who becomes just another one of the many Stanford players of Nigerian heritage (see Wopamo Osaisai, Pannel Egboh, Johnson Bademosi and Babatunde Oshinowo), told our Greg Biggins that the battle for his commitment was virtually over one month ago.
"About early to mid July, it was a done deal and I was all Stanford from then on," he said.
Tucker started Saturday's party on the other side of the country when he announced his intentions early in the afternoon. He became the eleventh Georgia player to commit to Stanford in the Harbaugh-Shaw era. Though he wasn't part of Alfieri and Okereke's scheme to commit simultaneously later in the afternoon, Tucker told The Bootleg that he immediately sent recruiting messages to both other prospects to ensure that they would follow suit.
I would like to thank everyone for the support. And I'm proud to say that I am an official Stanford Cardinal #FearTheTree— Kirk Tucker (@YouWannaBe_KPT) August 10, 2013
"I love how Stanford believed in me early," Tucker said. "Coach Shaw was very excited to get me on board. He's been waiting for me."
Shaw didn't have to wait long for the remaining two to join Tucker. He's now able to move toward filling the back half of a 2014 recruiting class that will likely end 20-25 prospects large.
Saturday's haul fortified the year's linebacker stock as one of the
strongest in the country, while adding another speedy,
physical defensive back to a class that will replenish the
Cardinal's secondary. (Take note of Tucker's open-field closing speed
in the highlights below.)
Stanford certainly seems to be in excellent shape as it pursues more big-time prospects in this recruiting cycle. Texas defensive end Solomon Thomas, New Jersey tight end Garrett Dickerson, Utah tight end Dalton Schultz and Florida wide receiver Trevon Lee are amongst the next targets. More commitments are likely, especially if the Cardinal staff continues to sell its university as well as it did to Tucker.
"I love how diverse it is there. Everyone is trying to help each other," he told our Chad Simmons. "When I was visiting, regular students offered to help me and they didn't even know who I was."
It's this kind of all-around appeal that has made Statement Saturday a somewhat regular occurrence at Stanford.
David Lombardi is the Stanford Insider for The Bootleg. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.
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