Fullback, where art thou?
In South Jersey, apparently.
Set aside your partisan feelings about the Yankees for the moment and open your mind to a very special recruit with the ability and desire to single-handedly elevated this 2004 Stanford recruiting class, and the offensive talent the Cardinal can put on the field for the next four to five years. At 6'1" and 260 pounds, Chris Pressley (Woodbury, NJ) is a load, and he has the ability to contribute as both a crushing blocker as well as an explosive ballcarrier.
His Woodbury High School team is 5-1 this fall and has shifted its offense toward a dominating running attack. In this past Friday's 34-0 win over Lindenwold, the Thundering Herd amassed 230 rushing yards in the first quarter alone.
Pressley was blocking more than carrying to start the his 2003 fall season, with only 17 total carries in his first two games. He did managed 165 yards (9.7 per carry), which is better than most any fullback in the country can claim. But in the subsequent four games he has been handed the ball 73 times, more than twice as often per contest. His 578 yards in those four games shows that his productivity has not suffered with the added work load. His impact on his high school team has also increased on the scoreboard, with eight touchdowns after none in his first two games.
"We've opened the ends," Pressley describes of the offense. "I just fire off tackle and go downfield."
The New Jersey senior is also a terror on defense, starting at middle linebacker in Woodbury's 4-3 defense. He does not have his current statistics available from his coach, but some schools are giving him a look on defense. Miami (FL) for example is recruiting Pressley as a defensive end. That has not gone over so well, however.
"I am an offensive guy," he plainly proclaims. "I want to go somewhere that will use me in their offense. A lot of schools tell me that I can be a Ron Dayne type of runner for them, which works for me."
As his recruitment ramped up during his junior year, Pressley had set his sights on Penn State, but they took an early commitment at the fullback position and closed shop. No worries for the 260-pound bruiser, who has more than 33 scholarship offers on the table from a national breadth of Division I programs, from Nebraska to Tennessee to Stanford.
"I tell people that Maryland is in the lead, but that's just because they're the only place I've been to that is in my top favorites," Pressley explains. "Coach [Bill] O'Brien at Maryland says they need a fullback, and they use the position a lot. Though not so much this year. They look to me like they know how to utilize their talent."
His trip to College Park was just an unofficial, though, and all five of his official visits still await Pressley. He is not looking to take any official trips during his high school season, but once December hits, a flurry of activity will unfold. The first weekend (12/5) he will go to Wisconsin, then trip to Indiana the next weekend (12/12). One last stop of the month will bring him back to Maryland (12/19). His fourth scheduled visit is set for Stanford on January 9, though Pressley says that trip is contingent upon his getting accepted to the school. More on that later.
The fifth and final trip will go to either Tennessee or Virginia, with the Vols holding a slight edge at this time.
"Stanford has the best overall package of academics and football on my list," the elite fullback opines. "They're the #1 option in the nation for that. Distance isn't a problem, either. I'm dealing with my future and I can't let something like distance get in the way. I can't be concerned about that. I want a place that will help me for the rest of my life, and Stanford could be that place."
If you are wondering just how serious Pressley truly is about the Cardinal, then know that he is taking an unofficial visit to The Farm the final weekend of November to see the Notre Dame game. He is taking that trip with his burgeoning buddy, Alex Fletcher, who of course is a longstanding Stanford commit and who is nearby in Long Island, NY.
The big hurdle for this young man in his Stanford recruitment is the admissions process, which is a fact of life for all Cardinal recruits. Pressley is one of the most intelligently spoken kids I've encountered in the innumerable phone calls with recruits in this class, and he has a very clear head about things. He carries a 92% grade point average at Woodbury and boasts a 1090 SAT. That already puts him in Stanford's admissions ballpark, but rest assured that he is quite capable of a much higher score.
"Stanford tells me that I need an SAT retake, and I'm signed up for November 1," Pressley explains. "I took that SAT back in my sophomore year and didn't think I would need to take it again. Almost every school in the country can take me with my GPA and just a 600 SAT. I didn't think about Stanford, though, so now I'll retake it."
The Woodbury senior has the Stanford application in his hands and says that he is just days away from its completion and submission. With a new SAT score on the horizon and this application about to hit the mail, the timing for his admissions review should come well in advance of his Stanford trip. And from what I have learned about this kid thus far, I don't believe that he will fall pray to the admissions axe.
The need for Pressley in this class cannot be overstated. The last two Stanford recruited fullbacks have run into unforeseen medical roadblocks. Chris Rudiger entered college with back problems and was quickly medically disqualified. Now the Cardinal coaches are learning increasingly disappointing news about Emeka Nnoli, who has a condition that sadly could have him similarly disqualified in the next two months. The only two healthy fullbacks on Stanford's roster this fall are fifth-year seniors. To say that the cupboard is about to be barren is putting Buddy Teevens' fullback prospects mildly.
A review of three of Stanford's losses this year also highlight the need for a big power back like Pressley. In the Washington, Washington State and Oregon games, the Card failed to score in goalline running situations that brought embarrassment to the offense. Some blame is fairly laid at the feet of the young offensive line, but there have been an equal number of failures by running backs to power through tacklers or make key blocks. The Stanford coaches are hoping that in Pressley they find "the answer," and bring back to Palo Alto what they had in 2002 in Casey Moore. Pressley could function as either a fullback or single-back in running or passing situations.
This is a fantastic kid and fantastic football talent. Fans too often undervalue the role of a fullback in this game, but this is a must-have recruit for Buddy Teevens this winter.
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