As soon as I finished the last story on Anthony Kimble's imminent college decision, he calls my cell phone with the final answer. You hope you don't look like a dolt in such a situation, publicizing a story that is about to implode on your subscriber base. It's happened before, but Stanford fans will be pleased to learn that it did not in this case.
The 6'1" receiver recruit from University Lab School in Baton Rouge (LA) committed this evening to Stanford after a very emotional tussle with Duke. Stanford's former receivers coach David Kelly is now in that position in Durham and carried the recruitment or Kimble to his new employer, which gave Duke a decided advantage during the last heated month of head-to-head battle against Stanford. The recruit and his family, however, decided to disengage themselves from the emotion of that one coach and make a decision based on a school and program.
"Me and my parents think it's the best opportunity for me," Kimble explains of his Cardinal decision. "Stanford is a great program with a lot of history, and they aren't going to ever stay down for long at all. I loved the facilities and I loved the people."
That 'people' advantage for Stanford came in no small part due to fellow Baton Rouge contemporary, Brandon Harrison.
"I called Brandon and talked with him before committing. It's great having someone there who came from here - who knows where I'm coming from and can tell me it is a great place," Kimble reveals. "We talked about playing early at Stanford. Coach Teevens wants me to play early, if I can come in there in good shap and perform like I know I can. Brandon says the first game he played this year was at BYU, and he felt like the eyes of the whole stadium were all on him. He was so nervous. That's how it will be. But I've played before in front of a 10,000 crowd in a small arena, where the fans are packed right on top of you."
Another person who helped with Kimble's decision the last couple weeks was fellow recruit Carlos McFall. The defensive back from San Antonio can relate to the geographical and cultural risk taken by venturing out West, and the two have talked quite a bit about the decision.
"I called Carlos immediately after I committed tonight," Kimble says. "He was surprised - thought I was going to take a while longer to decide. We had hung out together the whole [official recruiting] trip; we really bonded. We exchanged phone numbers and talked just about every day since then."
McFall, however, had a position coach in the secondary in place when he made his Stanford commitment. Kimble had Buddy Teevens in his home Wednesday without any receivers coach to show. It seemed impossible to ask the Louisiana athlete to make a decision for the Cardinal, and that was a good reason for Stanford to hope this thing would stretch out another week. Instead, the wideout target made the call tonight and surprised the head coach in Palo Alto.
"I was trying to reach Coach Teevens but it was going straight to voicemail, so I called Coach A.J. [Christoff]," Kimble recalls. "He gave the phone to Coach Teevens, and we talked some football. We had some chit chat. Coach Teevens told me not to rush things and to take my time. He thought I was still leaning toward Duke. I told him I was committing to Stanford and he was shocked. He kept saying how excited he was."
So how did this crucial receiver recruit make the call for the Cardinal without a position coach in place?
"Coach Teevens reassured me [Wednesday in-home] about the next receivers coach," Kimble explains. "He gave me the names of some of the top guys he is interviewing and could hire."
This commitment may not add a lot of 'stars' to the class ranking of this Stanford 2004 haul, but it is as big as any to date. The Cardinal did not sign a single receiver two years ago, and though it appeared they made up for that hole in the 2003 class, only two of those four receiver signees are there today. Jai Miller is playing professional baseball in Florida, while Tim Sims moved early in the fall to cornerback. That leaves just two signed receivers in the previous two classes, and Kimble ought to be the only wideout to sign in this class on February 4. If Teevens had missed on this target, they could have risked a tremendous hole at the position.
Instead, Stanford has a very exciting athlete. Kimble has only two years of football in his life under his belt, but his athleticism on the basketball court, where he has played all his life, bespeaks his high ceiling. The 6'1" 185-pound senior has enjoyed neither weight training nor speed training, but once he is put into a year-round program for football that offers him directed training, it will push him to even higher heights. He has great lateral quickness and leaping ability that has been hailed on the hardwood for years, but his best years remain ahead on the gridiron.
Many in the area say that Anthony Kimble might be the best senior athlete in all of Baton Rouge this year, which is incredible praise. Pulling out a talent like this from Louisiana is cause for celebration in Palo Alto tonight.
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