Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford Football's Roster Must Replace These Names in 2016

We don't know yet if Stanford needs to replace 18 or 19 5th-Years and Seniors, but regardless the departed make for a substantial need for reinforcements.

                With National Signing Day bearing down upon the college football world, rosters across the nation currently reside in a state of flux, especially with numerous upperclassmen ruminating over decisions to depart or remain.  Now is a good time to get a reset on Stanford’s roster, look at who’s coming , staying, and going, and make some projections based on the team’s needs in 2016.

The Departed

Note:  Not all of these players have resolved their fates as these articles come out, but we’ll try to keep their status as current as possible.

·         Kevin Anderson OLB

·         Brendan Austin OG

·         Devon Cajuste WR

·         Ronnie Harris DB

·         Kevin Hogan QB

·         Ra’Chard Pippens DB

·         Torsten Rotto DE

·         Brennan Scarlett DE

·         Rollins Stallworth WR

·         Remound Wright RB

There are some big footprints left by this group.  Anderson’s return significantly helped Stanford’s defense.  Cajuste, Ronnie Harris, Scarlett, Stallworth, and The Vulture all made legitimate contributions to Stanford’s Rose Bowl Championship season.   Of course the biggie is Hogan, who leaves as the only quarterback in Pac-12 history to start three Rose Bowls.  Austin, Cajuste, Harris, and Pippens leave projected position groups of strength for Stanford, though the offensive line will be a huge question mark with at least two new additions to the starting five. 

                Scarlett and Rotto leave a group that was already thin to begin with, and theirs are not the only departures, as we will see as we move through the classes.  Wright leaves what is clearly a position fine on the top shelf, but his was a role that made a huge difference in the Cardinal’s return to Red Zone prominence, all Vulture references aside.  Best guess here is that McCaffrey himself gets first crack at finishing drives, but somebody’s gonna have to carry the ball other than #5 at points…..

                The above list represented the 5th-Year Seniors per the Stanford roster.  The next list comprises the four-year “Seniors” who may or may not be returning to the Cardinal in 2016.

Coming Back……Like Return of the Jedi

·         Connor Crane WR

·         Johnny Caspers OG/C

·         Nick Davidson OT

·         Noor Davis LB

·         Chris Harwell FB

·         Craig Jones ILB

·         Dontonio Jordan WR

·         Luke Kaumatule DE

·         Dallas Lloyd SS

·         Nate Lohn DE

·         Sam Shober OLB

·         Conrad Ukropina K

·         Jordan Watkins DE

Caspers stands now as one of two returners from the O Line.  Considering the struggles Stanford endured in ’14 while incorporating four new starters, it will be intriguing to see how/if the coaches modify or tweek the process of acclimating three new starters this coming season.  Davidson provides some crucial depth and experience, and I’d have to think he might get a look on the inside if Fanaika doesn’t overwhelm the coaches in spring and summer ball.

       Crane and Jordan stand now as depth at this point, what with Francis Owusu and Trenton Irwin pretty solid at 1-2 pending the final decision of the player listed below this one.  Lloyd returns as the wisened elder of the secondary.  Luke Kaumatule stands out as the name among the three defensive end names here.   I sincerely hope for a number of reasons the coaches do right by him and give this fantastic athlete every chance to shine in 2016 after a career that’s been hamstrung by three position switches.  Watkins and Lohn stand at this point as practice depth.  It would be great if one or both emerged as viable rotation options, but that remains to be seen.

       Conrad Ukropina will be an extremely welcome returner in 2016.  After a fantastic 2015 that helped propel Stanford’s special teams to 5th-best in the nation (they also got some help from their Kick Returner, but his name escapes me just now). It’s hard to call Ukropina an unsung hero, but the stability he brings to a crucial position undoubtedly has the coaching staff relieved about one less crucial hole to fill.

Leave A Blank Space Over These Lockers

·         Michael Rector WR- We talked to Rector in the locker room immediately after the Rose Bowl, and it seemed that he was pretty eager to explore the possibility of departing.  As I type this (1/12/16), sources tell me that he’s going to wait about as long as he can (1/18) to make his decision.  Needless to say, if he comes back, Stanford’s wide receiver core gets a huge boost and presents whoever wins the quarterback battle with a terrific deep threat, though it will be a challenge to develop the same telepathic bond he enjoyed with Hogan this season.   I give this 60/40 he goes, but the longer he waits, the more likely he stays.

GGraham Shuler C- Nothing has been announced definitively with Shuler.  Obviously his is a huge absence or return as the starting Center.  Stay tuned. 

Say Goodbye

·         Joshua Garnett

·         Blake Martinez ILB

·         Reed Miller LS

·         Kyle Murphy OT

·         Barry Sanders RB

·         Aziz Shittu DT/DE

·         Kodi Whitfield SS

This is an awful lot to lose.  You have the best offensive lineman in the country, Stanford’s leading tackler (by a mile), a Long Snapper who was perfect through 13 games, an All-Conference Left Tackle, the team’s best defensive lineman, possibly the starting Center, and a starting Safety.  However, such is the nature of the game, and Stanford’s not exactly bare at any of the spots on the list.  Brandon Fanaika and David Bright loom as replacements (or at least successors) for Garnett and Murphy.  Barry Sanders had some electrifying moments, but his departure seemed in the works for years, if we’re being honest.  Aziz tried to stay, and Whitfield made perhaps the biggest single tackle of the season against Washington State.  Still, there is talent stepping up to play safety, and that’s not even factoring the Gaffney-esque return of Zach Hoffpauir to the team after a year playing professional baseball.   We’ll talk more about Shuler’s potential replacement in the next installment.

                So there you have it.  19 and maybe 20 players moving on, many of whom formed the crucial core of the team.   We as fans now face life without Kevin Hogan.  The shoes left behind by this group are awfully large, and in the next part of this series we’ll talk about the Juniors and Redshirt Sophomores who will be vying to fill them. 

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