See how Stanford's presence in the draft, both as picks and in studio, helps their recruiting pitch.
One of the biggest recruiting "pitches" a school can give is getting guys to the NFL.
The Stanford Cardinal were able to prove just that last weekend with five players selected in the draft and more signing NFL contracts as undrafted free agents. It also doesn't hurt when head coach David Shaw was on the desk for the first round of the NFL Network's draft coverage Thursday night.
Guard Joshua Garnett, 1-28 San Francisco 49ers
Tight end Austin Hooper, 3-81 Atlanta Falcons
Linebacker Blake Martinez, 4-131 Green Bay Packers
Quarterback Kevin Hogan. 5-162 Kansas City Chiefs
Offensive tackle Kyle Murphy, 6-200 Green Bay Packers
Undrafted Free Agents:
Wide receiver Devon Cajuste, San Francisco 49ers
Defensive lineman Aziz Shittu, Philadelphia Eagles
Defensive lineman Brennan Scarlett, Houston Texans
How much of an impact does this make on a recruit? How closely are some of the top prep players paying attention to the draft?
I asked some Stanford commits.
One pleasant surprise for Cardinal fans was the 49ers trading up to draft Joshua Garnett in the first round. The "experts" didn't anticipate Garnett to be taken that early, and he gets to stay in the Bay Area.
2016 offensive lineman commit Matthew Gutwald was actually on-campus when Garnett was selected. He was watching the draft with the likes of Christian McCaffrey and Quenton Meeks. When their teammate was selected, the room exploded.
"Seeing these guys getting drafted and being given these great opportunities because of the system and school they come from makes it seem so much more real than any words a coach could say," Gutwald said via text message. "It really did get me excited, seeing Josh and Murphy doing all these great things and realizing they went through the same program I am about to experience makes the dream so much more real."
Garnett's first round selection also meant the NFL Network had live reaction of David Shaw when one of his players achieved their drams. Shaw had the same opportunity when Andrus Peat was taken in the first round by the Saints in the 2014 draft.
"It was amazing," offensive line commit Dylan Powell said via text message. "It shows Coach Shaw genuinely cares about his players, not only on the field but off the field as well. It shows his character and pride for players."
Garnett and sixth-round selection Kyle Murphy are the sixth and seventh Stanford offensive linemen drafted to the NFL in the last five years.
"The tangible evidence shows that Coach Bloomgren and the rest of the coaching staff know how to develop players into NFL caliber players," Powell continued.
"Seeing coaches at Stanford develop players into NFL players at the rate that they do is impressive. It seems like every year they have an offensive linemen getting drafted. It shows me that the coaches will get the best out of me as a player, and that is really appealing to me."
The moment between Garnett and Shaw was cool to watch, but the Stanford coach wasn't just set decoration either.
"It’s another reason that adds to Coach Shaw’s elite image. He is one of the best and I think him being at the draft just underlines how much he knows about college football and how much he loves it," Stanford defensive line commit Thomas Schaffer said via text message.
(Note: It was a special draft for Schaffer as he is planning on studying Human Biology at Stanford, the same major as Garnett, and his favorite team, the Green Bay Packers, selected Blake Martinez and Kyle Murphy.)
So does having Shaw on the broadcast help Stanford's recruiting? It certainly doesn't hurt.
"I had been watching Coach Shaw on the draft in the past years and just seeing his football knowledge and respect he gets from everybody meant a lot," Gutwald said. "Also seeing the great tradition (offensive lineman) like DeCastro and Yankey in the past made the pitch that much better and real."
"I was already sold on Stanford before that point. It was more just icing on the cake at that point," 2017 tight end commit Colby Parkinson said.
Neither does having a guy in your position group go in the first three rounds, like tight end Austin Hooper to the Atlanta Falcons.
For fellow tight end commit Kaden Smith, he certainly keeps track of the draft, but it isn't must-see TV for him. Both Smith and Parkinson referenced Stanford as "Tight End U", and Smith hopes his future teammates can make history at the position.
"To be honest, I don’t pay too much attention to the draft. I watch the first few picks hoping one day a tight end will go top-five," Smith said in a text.
"Maybe I can change that."