To be blunt, there was not a lot of "star" power on campus this past weekend for Stanford Football. Several kids who visited could be contributors in the Card's future, but they don't have a lot of cachet or recognition. But one very huge official visitor, both figuratively and literally, was 6'5" 315-pound offensive lineman Allen Smith. His recruitment has been one of the mostly closely watched out West in this class, with heavy interest up and down the Pac-10. National players like Notre Dame and Tennessee have had their stake in the game as well.
Stanford fans have patiently waited through Smith's official visits to South Bend, Tempe and Westwood, with glowing reviews of each place. But this past weekend was finally the time when this top OL recruit made his way to Palo Alto for his first ever visit to Stanford's campus. He has previously described his longtime love for the University, and he has said in no uncertain terms how much anticipation had built to a fevered pitch. Smith returned to his Tempe (AZ) home Sunday night and talked with The Bootleg about the visit and its impact on his impending college decision.
"Everyone told me Stanford was beautiful," the four-star recruit begins. "It wasn't beautiful; it was gorgeous. It was what I envisioned a college campus looking like. Not only that, but just the overall cordialness of the players was very refreshing."
"The faculty brunch and the basketball game were my favorite parts of the weekend," Smith continues. "The only true test of a campus comes from its professors, and I got to meet a lot of interesting fans at the basketball game. One lady in perticular waved to me as I left and shouted my name with a thumbs up! I guess she already knew who I was. That was special."
While the sights and sounds measured up to, if not beyond, the recruit's expectations, he is a people person at heart and has been the most enthused about the players he has met on his official visits. We all know how he raved about his one-on-one time with Ryan Harris in South Bend, and he cited at least two players who made big impacts on him at UCLA. The #19 OL in the country was hosted at Stanford this weekend by redshirt sophomore nose tackle Babatunde Oshinowo, which was a brilliant match. Both are widebodied athletes who can actually impress you every bit as much with their cerebral abilities as their athletic prowess. Both also happen to be bigtime computer science guys.
"Nobody told me that Babatunde was such an amazing host," Smith exclaims. "When I first talked with Coach Teevens about my host, he told me Baba was a lot like me in intellect and character, and he was right on the money. I saw a lot of myself in Baba. He just came off as a natural leader and good person. He was very sympathetic to my situation, but also very informative in my decision making. By the end of the trip I felt as close to him as I did Ryan Harris for Notre Dame."
But Allen Smith was not alone on this recruiting weekend, and the Cardinal had a very important person in his life to sell as well: his mother. Remembering that she is Associate Professor of Psychology in Education at Arizona State, there was going to be a close scrutinization of the Stanford faculty. While that seems like an inconsequential hurdle in this recruitment, Smith's mother needed to see how personable the faculty at the school proved to be, as well as how they support student-athletes.
"That was the biggest selling point for my mom - the academic properties of Stanford," the son reports. "She knew Stanford had a nationaly and internationaly recognizeable degree, but she did not know the true quality of the instruction. Then she met the faculty and realized they weren't just 2-D figures, but actually 3-D people with interest and hobbies."
So both mother and son were favorably impressed with Stanford. That's no surprise. Everything we know about them pointed toward a positive experience. The real question with Smith having now visited four of his top favorite schools is how much did the Cardinal do for themselves. In his answer, the recruit deftly deflects the focus away from his reactions and puts the spotlight instead on his mother.
"Stanford maintained its standards for me but really excelled with my mother and uncle who were on the trip," he sidesteps. "I'm sure she will find some way of filtering it down into my head before I make my decision. So it's going to be tough for these other schools to get my mom back to even a neutral position."
Well, that wasn't a terribly revealing answer. To be more blunt, I ask the question if this visit put Stanford into the leadership position for his college commitment?
"As of right now I really do not have a leader," he replies. "And a leader won't arise untill I take this last visit [to Tennessee] and actually sit down and dissect how I feel about each school. It looks promising however that after this last visit, and after all pieces to the puzzle are gathered, that I will be able to make a fairly quick decision. So far the hardest part has not been the decision, but getting all the information needed to make an educated one."
As if that response was not cryptic enough, Smith confirms that his plans are still on track for more visits this month. He will locally "trip" to Arizona State on Wednesday to give them an extra day to show him what they have. This weekend will send him to Knoxville (TN) for his fifth and final official visit: Tennnessee. Then next Tuesday or Wednesday, the highly rated offensive tackle will unofficially visit Notre Dame for a 24-hour period. By the time he returns from that trip, he will have one week or less before Signing Day. Smith still says he has plans on making his college commitment announcement at that time.
"Once I get past my last visit, I will have a clear idea on where I stand on a decision," he opines. "Until I hear otherwise, I plan on announcing in Orlando with Mr. [Tom] Lemming."
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