Mike Sanford to Boise State
The Rose Bowl is still two weeks away, but offseason activity has already begun for Stanford. Any highly successful program can expect its coaching staff to attract plenty of outside interest, and that phenomenon has just taken its first significant bite out of the Cardinal.
Quarterbacks/wide receivers coach Mike Sanford, considered by many to be Stanford's top recruiter, is leaving David Shaw's staff to become the offensive coordinator at Boise State, where he played quarterback from 2001-2004.
"I'm extremely excited about the opportunity to return to my alma mater," Sanford said.
He will remain with the Cardinal through the Rose Bowl, but Shaw will be tasked with finding and naming a replacement as soon as possible. Current running backs coach Tavita Pritchard, a former quarterback on The Farm, is an obvious candidate for the position, but it's also possible that Shaw hires from outside the program to complement offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren with an experienced play caller. Since Bloomgren also coaches Stanford's offensive linemen, he prefers to stay on the sideline during games, so Sanford's replacement will presumably assume a birds' eye view from the booth during games.
Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton left the Cardinal for the Indianapolis Colts after last season, and Shaw responded by promoting both Bloomgren and Sanford within the offensive coaching power structure.
Meanwhile, Shaw himself has quieted unfounded speculation that he, too, may be leaving The Farm. Several rumors suggested Stanford's lead man was a candidate for head coaching gigs in the NFL and Texas, but Shaw affirmed that he intends to stay in the Bay Area for the indefinite future. He repeated that he hopes the Stanford job is his last.
"No matter what I say, the rumors aren't going to stop," he said. "It doesn't bother me. Every good football program in the last 15 years, after two good years, the head coach is going to be rumored to go someplace else. I take it as a compliment."
Bowl Practice Development: Dallas Lloyd to Safety
With high school football seasons across America all finished and the February 5 National Signing Day not overly far away anymore, recruiting is beginning to creep its away back to a position of greater attention this December. The immediate priority of Shaw's staff, however, revolves around developing youngsters who already are part of Stanford's squad. This pre-Rose Bowl stretch of practice affords a valuable opportunity for potential future contributors to develop and for the staff to evaluate their future potential.
While freshman linebackers Kevin Palma and Peter Kalambayi have impressed this week, the most intriguing Stanford development has come courtesy back-up quarterback Dallas Lloyd. The six-foot-three, 212-pound sophomore, who has impressed with his athleticism but struggled to hold onto the football in limited action on the offensive end, has been taking reps at the safety position.
Stanford is likely expecting standout free safety Ed Reynolds to declare for the 2014 NFL Draft. Zach Hoffpauir, who was recruited to the program as a safety, seems to have found a more comfortable home at the nickel back position. Since concussion problems forced Drew Madhu to medically retire from the program before this 2013 season, the Cardinal may be facing a crunch at this important position in the defensive backfield after this season, and that's why shifting Lloyd there has long seemed like a logical course of action.
Michael Thomas Earns Fame in South Beach
- Former Stanford defensive back Michael Thomas finally got his NFL shot just days after the Miami Dolphins signed him off the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad. He made the most of his inaugural opportunity, intercepting Tom Brady in the end zone to seal the Dolphins' critical win over the New England Patriots. The pick made Thomas an overnight celebrity in South Beach and drew heaps of attention to Stanford on an NFL weekend during which alumni accounted for 28 points and four interceptions. Thomas was named the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week, while his former teammate Richard Sherman (Seattle Seahawks) was the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week.
Shaw sent Thomas a text message before the game, encouraging his former player to make the most of the opportunity.
"He certainly did that," Shaw said afterward.
- Shaw also named running back Barry Sanders as one of the young players who has enjoyed good practices in this bowl preparation stretch.
- Shaw is very complimentary of Michigan State's balanced squad, which features what is (statistically) the best defense in the nation. "They're extremely well-coached in all three phases," he said. "They're never out of position."
- Stanford is remarkably healthy. Defensive end Ben Gardner and tackle Ikenna Nwafor are the only two players currently out with injuries, while the rest of the roster is healing well after a strenuous season that featured 13 games in 14 weeks.
- Left guard David Yankey is Stanford's second consecutive unanimous All-American (Zach Ertz was one last year). Linebacker Trent Murphy and kick returner Ty Montgomery are consensus All-Americans. This is the first time in program history that Stanford has had three consensus All-Americans.
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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