At 5 a.m. Pacific time, before the sun had even risen in his hometown of Coppell, Texas, defensive lineman Solomon Thomas reached for a mini tree and nerd glasses on national television. Stanford was the five-star recruit's decision.
Two and a half hours later, just the sun had peaked through all the way out in California, heralded cornerback Terrence Alexander also positioned himself in front of the ESPN camera on national TV. He, too, made a pledge to Stanford -- the one that put a gigantic exclamation mark on the success of this 2014 recruiting cycle.
Months of speculation are over regarding these two highly touted players. Decisions from Uriah Leiataua (BYU) and preferred walk-on prospect Louis Vecchio (Penn) did not go Stanford's way, and there's still business to tidy up regarding some other walk-on prospects, but this much is now certain: David Shaw and his staff have cashed in on the recruiting trail yet again. The Cardinal signed 20 players on this Signing Day, covering every single offensive and defensive position except wide receiver. After a quiet 2013 recruiting cycle (the Cardinal simply didn't have enough roster room last year to sign a big class), Shaw has inked another impressive Top 25 haul.
There's brawn up front: five-star Casey Tucker, Reilly Gibbons, Jesse Burkett, and Austin Hall comprise an enviable offensive line group.
There's explosive speed: running backs Christian McCaffrey and Isaiah Brandt-Sims sizzle on tape and should plug in as playmakers in space in the near future.
There's a stud at the quarterback position: The Cardinal didn't have to go far for Keller Chryst, who has put together some of the most impressive high school film in the nation at Palo Alto School.
Stanford fans can certainly envision a future in which Chryst throws regularly to tight end Dalton Schultz, considered by many to be the top prospect in the nation at his position. Aside from comparing Schultz's route-running skills to those of Coby Fleener and Zach Ertz, Shaw lauded the incomer's blocking abilities on Wednesday.
There's also a bowling ball-like throwback at fullback: Orange County product Daniel Marx barrels over defenders in his highlights, and its apparent Stanford is looking for him to be its next contributor in the mold of Owen Marecic and Ryan Hewitt.
Defensively, the Farm Boys have netted Thomas and high motor sensation Harrison Phillips, perhaps the most vocal member of the class, to fortify the future of a line that has lost Ben Gardner and Josh Mauro.
The incoming linebacker corps of Bobby Okereke, Joey Alfieri, Jordan Perez, and Lane Veach provides perhaps the most sizzle of any position group on film. The first three players electrify with explosiveness on film, while the 6-6, 225-pound Veach brings measurables and style reminiscent of a young Trent Murphy.
The defensive backfield is also stocked with depth: Safety Brandon Simmons will team with cornerbacks Alexander, Alijah Holder, Alameen Murphy, and Denzel Franklin to refuel the unit with a healthy combination of speed and physicality.
With the recruiting cycle coming to a close, focus will now turn to player development, where Stanford's coaching staff has been excellent in the Harbaugh-Shaw era, thanks in large part to the efforts of sports performance director Shannon Turley. Just how good this class becomes will be dependent on its performance within the Cardinal's established system. Recent success, though, suggests that the smart money should go with Stanford's continued success: Shaw has proven he can successfully oversee excellent recruiting and player development programs on The Farm. Another chapter in those efforts was completed today.
Stanford will spend the remainder of this month tidying up final details on the preferred walk-on front, from which a handful of talented players have a strong chance to be significant contributors on The Farm. Premiere long-snapper CJ Keller has officially committed to the school, as has kicker Hayden Lekacz. The latter talent, though, is still waiting on final word from the university's admissions office.
Meanwhile, speedy Idaho wide receiver Addison Johnson wants to walk on at Stanford. He expects to hear back from the admissions office within the next few weeks.
Order of Stanford Signing Day Faxes
1st: Jesse Burkett - 4:03 a.m.
2nd: Reilly Gibbons - 4:24 a.m.
3rd: Alameen Murphy - 4:34 a.m.
4th: Denzel Franklin - 4:51 a.m.
5th: Brandon Simmons - 5:05 a.m.
6th: Harrison Phillips - 5:15 a.m.
7th: Solomon Thomas - 5:37 a.m.
8th: Dalton Schultz - 6:19 a.m.
9th: Christian McCaffrey - 6:20 a.m.
10th: Casey Tucker - 6:26 a.m.
11th: Lane Veach - 6:49 a.m.
12th: Daniel Marx - 7:01 a.m.
13th: Jordan Perez - 7:06 a.m.
14th: Isaiah Brandt-Sims - 7:09 a.m.
15th: Joey Alfieri - 7:14 a.m.
16th: Alijah Holder - 7:16 a.m.
17th: Bobby Okereke - 7:38 a.m.
18th: Keller Chryst - 8:40 a.m.
19th: Austin Hall - 8:48 a.m.
20th: Terrence Alexander - 8:56 a.m.
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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