Arlich Orchestrates Upset

Tuesday will go down as a big upset day in favor of Stanford's 2004 recruiting class as Minnesota fullback Jerod Arlich committed to Stanford. The result puzzled national observers, as well as fans and coaches of two schools. For the insight into his decision and what swayed him this past weekend at The Farm, read on...

Admit it. You were pretty darned pessimistic about the prospects of Stanford landing Mahtomedi Senior High School (Mahtomedi, MN) fullback standout Jerod Arlich this week. The deck looked stacked in favor of two schools. His home-state Gophers would keep him close to his family, which is the center of his world, and he would develop publicity and connections to set him for life in Minnesota. Colorado offered a fascinating and new place for him to enjoy all the outdoors life that is his passion. Both schools pitched hard to him their great need at fullback.

Stanford was the farthest from his home, and Arlich publicly described California as being perceived as the "land of hippies" locally. The Cardinal were also a late arrival to the recruiting war, barely even eking out an official visit slot. To make matters more difficult still, Arlich had neither his position coach nor his regional recruiting coach still on staff when he arrived in Palo Alto this weekend. In fact, the recruit told The Bootleg just last week how careful he would be to gauge his relationship with his position coach, who would be his closest mentor during his college career.

But when Jerod Arlich returned home from school yesterday at 1:00 pm Central time, he called up the Colorado and Minnesota coaches to inform them that he was not attending their institutions. He made a third call to Stanford and head coach Buddy Teevens.

"I told him I was committing to Stanford," Arlich recalls. "He was ecstatic, and some of what he was saying was hard to even make out. He said he was walking two feet off the ground."

Though in-state residents will press to know why their homegrown prep star is bolting to the Pac-10, Arlich professes that there was no one factor that swayed him to Stanford. He has said throughout his recruitment that he was waiting for that really special gut feeling, and it came to him only this weekend while he was The Farm.

"There isn't one thing I can put my finger on. It's just something I felt through the whole weekend," the 6'4" fab fullback explains. "Once you get done with college you settle down and plant roots. This is the one time in your life to move someplace completely different, and I think Stanford could be an amazing place for me to grow."

Arlich actually reached his Stanford decision Sunday as he flew home with his family, but when the returned to their Mahtomedi residence they found a slew of messages from the Colorado and Minnesota coaches. Both schools informed the family that they were coming in town Monday for their last pitches to the prized fullback. That derailed his plans a bit for informing schools of his decision, and he instead listened patiently to the long presentations given by each school.

"I listened to what they were saying and tried challenging myself on my Stanford decision," Arlich explains of Monday's events. "With each passing minute, the decision felt easier. I had no second thoughts."

But before the momentum swung so forcibly in the Cardinal's favor, there was much convincing that had to be done during his visit weekend at The Farm. Not only did the recruit need a strong sell job at Stanford, but so too did his family.

"Each school was a favorite of one member of my family and each one tried to influence me subtlely during this recruiting saga," the fullback explains. "But I saw what they would do and asked them to hold off on that."

His father was high on Minnesota; brother big on Colorado; and mother dearest was in Stanford's corner.

"It was my brother actually who kind of put the idea into my head about how liberal Stanford might be," Arlich reveals. "My family is all pretty conservative, but especially my brother. It was really good to go out there and see that Stanford was different than we thought. By the end of the visit he joked about asking where he could sign on the dotted line."

Though his mother was one asset in Stanford's favor coming into the visit, she was ecstatic for a different reason when he reached his final decision.

"My mom was almost in tears when I told her where I wanted to go," the son allows. "She was so emotional just seeing how happy I was with my decision. The recruiting process is supposed to be a fun and happy time, but it's been really stressful for me. I mean, I know it put stress on a lot of kids, but it really wore me down at times and just wasn't fun."

Things were plenty fun during his final visit weekend, though, and Arlich describes the best parts of the experience to be outside the two primary decision factors that typically go into a college commitment: football and academics.

"Capp Culver was my host and he was about as far away from my notion of a California resident as I could imagine," the Minnesota visitor details. "I'm a wannabe redneck, but he's the real thing. We had a lot of good times together. And it was great to how he fits in with his morals and values - the way he interacted with different people from all over the country with all kinds of backgrounds. I think I came close to meeting every player on the team during the visit - that was very helpful. There wasn't a single guy I didn't like."

Stanford clearly was hurting in a big way at the fullback position this past season, and that is why Arlich became a recruit of such feverish importance over the last several months. His offer list is a very impressive one: Minnesota, Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Navy and of course Stanford. For a fullback, that's strong.

But strength is not his strength, to be truthful. Arlich admits that his 247-pound frame is an underdeveloped one, with an almost completely nonexistent weight program at his high school. In both facilities and focus, Mahtomedi does not do much weight training, so Arlich is anxious to get a program from Stanford strength coach Ron Forbes after Signing Day.

"I still have some nicks and problems I'm letting heal up from the season," he adds. "But as soon as I get that program, I'm going to get right on it."

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