Recruiting the Northeast has been a very difficult proposition for Stanford for quite some time. Pennsylvania and Virginia have proven most intractable, with the Cardinal unable to pry recruits away from their numerous options so much closer to home.
One elite target from the area in this year's class has been flickering on the radar for the past couple months, but Stanford may have made a minor breakthrough of late. Woodland Hills HS's Devon Lyons (Pittsburgh, PA) is ranked the #16 safety in the country by the recruiting experts at TheInsiders, as well as the #43 overall player in Big Ten country - stretching from Michigan to Illinois to Ohio to Pennsylvania. At 6'3" and 205 pounds he is an athlete with an exciting combination of size and speed (4.45). Lyons currently plays both defensive back and receiver for the Wolverines, and he is making a big impact on both sides of the ball.
On defense he has an interception and two forced fumbles, plus 46 tackles from the safety position. But even more impressive is what he is doing on offense. Of his 21 receptions this year, 13 have gone for touchdowns. His 720 yards tells you that he is breaking big plays just about every time he touches the ball, with a jaw-dropping 34.3 yards per reception.
"We've gone to more deep passes this year," Lyons says of his long ball exploits. "But some are shorter passes that I break into bigger gains. There was just an article in the local paper last week about this. I guess the average is pretty amazing."
It comes as no surprise that Lyons' offer sheet includes such powerhouses as Ohio State, Penn State and Miami. Local hopeful Pittsburgh has made a strong push, but Lyons says that he would like to go somewhere outside his hometown to try something different for college. His two favorites at this time are both out of state, and they are not coincidentally the only two official visits he has schedule. He tripped to Notre Dame in September, and will go to Michigan State later this month.
"I like the coaches at both schools, and they both tell me I can come in and play early," Lyons allows.
"I have a top six right now," he continues. "You could say those two are my favorites, and there are four more I'm deciding between for my [other] three visits: Stanford, Penn State, Ohio State and Miami. Michigan State is recruiting me at receiver and Miami likes me at safety. All the others are recruiting me for both sides of the ball."
The Cardinal have been recruiting him with gusto the past two months, according to Lyons. "It's still a place I'm looking at," he professes. "They call me every week. The positives are that it's hot all year-round there, and it sounds like they just have a great campus. Coach Cubit seems like a really nice guy. Their pitch is how they talk about the weather, and they are a team on the rise. They are looking for some athletes who can take them to the next level, and they think I could do that. The negative is just the distance. Stanford is a little far, but distance shouldn't be a big factor because I'd like to get away from home a little."
Though Lyons will have visited his two favorites before your calendar turns to November, he professes that he will not make his decision until after his high school season. He also wants to take all five of his officials. The question for the Cardinal is if they can slip in for one of those final three visits.
"I'm looking for a great campus, how well I fit in and the coaches," Lyons says of his ultimate college choice. "The biggest thing will be the school environment and how I feel that fits me. The visits are really important, but I'm also doing a lot of research on the Internet."
A key of course in any Stanford recruitment is the admissions application process. Lyons has received a Stanford application and says it is currently in the possession of his guidance counselor. With a 3.5 GPA and 1030 SAT, he is in Stanford's admissions ballpark, but he says that Cubit has advised him that he might take the SAT one more time. The elite Pittsburgh recruit, though, says that he first wants to decide if he is taking an official visit to Stanford before he dives into the application.
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