The Deer In The Crosshairs

The list of determining factors for or against Stanford through the years in many famed recruiting battles is a diverse one. Distance, girlfriends, academic rankings and depth chart projections - all normal criteria. Minnesota fullback Jerod Arlich has some of these same things in mind, but an unusually key event that could determine his upcoming visit plans came this weekend on a hunting expedition...

Minnesota (Mahtomedi HS) senior fullback Jerod Arlich is one of the more prominently recognized big backs in the country this year, and with a strong academic base it is not surprising that Stanford is hot on his trail given their current travails at the position.  Their top two fullbacks on the depth chart today are fifth-year seniors headed for graduation, and the heir apparent to the position has a medical condition that sadly may end his football playing days soon.  Two third year players have been moved over to fullback from linebacker, but both have been hurt all season and are yet to take a snap in a game this year.

As need has turned to desperation at fullback for Stanford, the Cardinal coaches have doubled down their recruiting efforts to unearth that rare big-bodied talent who can forcefully block at the Pac-10 level, carry the ball in single-back sets and at the same time possess Stanford academics.  Those efforts have paid off as they recently found Arlich and have rapidly ramped up their recruitment of the 6'4" 246-pound athlete.

Arlich has six offers currently: Northwestern, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado, Notre Dame and Navy.  That presented him with more schools than official visits allowed by the NCAA, and for a time these last few weeks there was confusion about his dates present and future.  That has now become more clear, and Stanford suddenly is in the mix.

"I have kind of pushed Wisconsin and Navy off my list," he explains.  "I have already taken visits to Notre Dame and Colorado and I'm sure that I'll visit Northwestern and Minnesota.  Those are my top four schools.  I've started to hear a lot recently from Stanford and Iowa and I'll choose between them for my final official visit."

Arlich recently completed his senior season at Mahtomedi Senior and now devotes his time and mental energy to the task of recruiting.  "I don't know much about Stanford and Iowa compared to the other schools, and I'm looking for as much information as I can on the Internet.  As far as academics go, Stanford is way ahead of all the other schools, and I like to think of myself as an academic guy.  But I also like the outdoors and hunting.  Now that my season is over, I'm thinking all the time about college football and deer."

So here is where the intriguing twist comes.  Arlich was going out for deer hunting this past weekend, and the results were to determine some upcoming visit plans.  "If I get a deer this weekend," he told The Bootleg late last week, "I will go to Iowa unofficially next weekend.  They tell me that they are ready to offer me but just want to eyeball me in person first.  I think that trip would help me learn about the school to determine if I want an official or not.  I obviously can't make it out to Stanford soon enough for an unofficial there, so what I really would like is a personal chance to meet with them.  I don't know the NCAA rules about when in-home visits can start, but a visit from Stanford would really help me out."

The Minnesota standout, who ranks as one of the top fullbacks in the country this year, talks with assistant coach Peter McCarty at Stanford regularly nowadays.  And as the Cardinal have jumped into the game, Arlich has learned about the unique admissions dimension of their recruitment.

"I didn't know I would have to apply to get in there," he comments.  "Everywhere else it's just a given that I can go to the school.  It's not a big deal to apply.  I just have to do it."

Arlich currently carries a very strong academic profile and a fantastic chance for admission at Stanford.  He holds a 3.92 unweighted GPA to go with his 27 ACT.  He also recently earned his Eagle Scout badge.

"We don't use honors points at our school, and I know some kids with 4.0 GPAs who don't take any real classes," the student-athlete admits. "That really bugs me."

Mahtomedi concluded their varsity season a week and a half ago with a 6-5 record.  They went 4-4 in the regular season, but all schools make the playoffs in Minnesota, and the Zephyrs made a nice run in their section.  They went 2-1 in their postseason, including a huge 33-6 upset of #1 seed Hill-Murray in the semifinals.  They were on pace to win the 3AAAA section championship in the finals as they led St. Thomas Academy 7-0 and were in the redzone for another score, but their quarterback broke his collarbone and the wheels came off.  Arlich's team lost the game 14-7 in a crushing defeat. 

He did however finish the year strong, scoring nine touchdowns in the three playoff games after pushing across for just one touchdown in his five regular season games.  If you are doing the math and wonder where the other three games of the season disappeared, he missed two games with illnesses and a third with a high ankle sprain.

Jerod Arlich was the starting fullback for Mahtomedi the last three years, and played some heavy doses of middle linebacker as well.  He is ranked #56 by TheInsiders in this national class as a running back, but those rankings do not differentiate between tailbacks and fullbacks.  Were a separate fullback category to be pulled out, he would stand as one of the nation's best.

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