As April turns to May, Stanford finds itself making a great transition from spring football to road recruiting evaluations. The Cardinal coaching staff will spread across the country starting Monday for the first of four NCAA-allowed weeks of on-campus evaluations. The coaches will be scouring the nation for the top student-athletes for this 2005 recruiting class, and one intense need has to linger in their minds as they recall the final practices of Stanford spring football. For their last week of workouts, they had just two scholarship receivers available for practices and the concluding Cardinal and White Scrimmage.
While it is true that a confluence of injury situations contributed to that meager number, the end-spring shortage underscores the bare-bones depth at the wide receiver position today on The Farm. And just one wideout will bolster the ranks when the incoming freshman class reports in August. Overall, Stanford has signed and enrolled just four total scholarship receivers in the last three combined recruiting classes (2002 to 2004).
Stanford fans talk about needing linebackers, defensive tackles and certainly a quarterback in this junior class, but there is an overwhelming need for receiving playmakers - in both quality and quantity. For this reason, I am excited to bring Cardinalmaniacs™ the story of possibly the top junior wideout in the nation with Stanford-level academics. His name is Mohamed Massaquoi, and he hails from the powerhouse program at Independence High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. For those who do not know, the Independence Patriots have won four straight Class 4A state titles in the Tar Heel State, including an active 62-game winning streak (second only to De La Salle) and 16-0 finish last fall.
Independence HS produced four-star wide receiver Mario Raley in the 2002 class and National Player of the Year quarterback Chris Leak in the 2003 class. The crown jewel of the current Patroit posse is Massaquoi, who racked up big-time numbers last fall as a junior. Connecting with classmate and quarterback Joe Cox (who has grades and is also a Stanford recruit), the 6'2" playmaker scored 23 touchdowns on 87 catches for a total of 1,518 yards. Massaquoi says that he has speed in the "4.5 to 4.6 range" and is not the fastest of receivers, but he has a fantastic feel for the game in all areas that consistently allows him to make plays.
"It's just a whole bunch of practice and a lot of instincts," the Indendpence junior wideout describes. "Basically it's an understanding of what I'm supposed to do on each play - how to run the route, how to get open and how to adjust to the particular defense. It's not one thing."
Better than words, take full advantage of the power of TheInsiders network and view Mohamed Massaquoi's film.
When you get Massaquoi in a combine, one measurable that will jump out at you is his vertical leap, which registers at 38 inches. Put that kind of climbing together with a 6'2" frame and you have a target on your offense who can go up and over almost any defender.
"We have some corners in Charlotte who run a 4.4," the prolific receiver relates. "If I can't outrun them to get open, I can almost always outjump them."
Colleges are sold on Massaquoi as a premier playmaker at the next level, with more offers than the North Carolina junior can remember. He has nearly blanket offers from the ACC, plus a healthy dose of the SEC and several others. Massaquoi does not keep a list with him of all his scholarships but a good number of them include North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, Wake Forest, South Carolina, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Michigan, Nebraska and Stanford. Other schools are recruiting him in earnest, including Georgia and Florida.
If you try to extract a leaders list from Massaquoi to help filter through that dizzying list of schools, though, you won't get anywhere. He insists that he does not yet have enough information to make a meaningful statement about these programs and how to rank them.
"Right now I really can't say who I like better because I haven't seen them all yet," the four-star receiver confesses. "In a month or two I'll try to have the list narrowed down so I can take my official visits early in the fall."
"I want to feel confortable at my school - have to trust the coaching staff who will surround me," Massaquoi begins in describing the factors he will weigh in his college decision. "I want playing time early - either starting or a fair amount of time on the field. The academics need to be strong. I want a school who supports athletics, and a campus in a nice town."
The Cardinal are not only the most distant option on Massaquoi's list right now, but they also popped the most recent offer. The Charlotte standout was given a verbal offer by Stanford on Wednesday, which made a quick and favorable impression upon him.
Prior to the offer, Massaquoi told this to The Bootleg just last weekend about his view on Stanford:
"Right now I don't know much about them. They're fairly new... I probably would have to take a visit out there in the next month and a half to consider keeping them on my list when I narrow it down."
He called me Friday with a slightly different tune, however. "They have done a good job so far," the receiver reveals of his Cardinal recruitment. "They have great academics and it sounds like a really pretty campus. I have had friends who have traveled and come back really changed in how they viewed a school, so it might be smart for me to visit them. Right now I only know what's on paper about them. I have to see Stanford before I can decide how much I like them. To say anything different would be unfair to Stanford, myself and the other schools on my list. But they are a school where I will probably take an official visit, as soon as possible my senior year."
The 6'2" 191-pound athlete has already taken unofficial visits to a host of schools on his list, including Georgia, Tennessee, UNC, Duke, NC State, Maryland, Florida and Clemson.
Massaquoi has previously said that he would prefer to go to college in the Southeast, and that puts distance as the number one concern in this Cardinal recruitment. As we have learned through the years, that means not only selling the student-athlete on the merits of a Stanford academic and athletic experience across the country, but also selling his family. Convincing mothers in particular to let their baby go so far from the nest is an arduous task. So where does Massaquoi's mother stand on the distance issue?
"She just wants me to make the right choice for me," the son replies. "If I want to go to Canada, she'd support that so long as it is the best fit and opportunity for me."
Two connections to consider as this premier passing target evaluates schools: 1) Former Independence HS head coach Tom Knotts was hired this winter as an assistant coach at Duke with a keen eye toward giving the Blue Devils a greater grip on the top in-state talents. 2) Cousin Tim Massaquoi is a tight end at Michigan currently. The 6'4" former receiver was a top prize in the 2001 class.
Mohamed Massaquoi currently holds a 4.25 GPA on a four-point scale at Independence High School, and he has scored an 1100 on the SAT.
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