One of the great surprises in Stanford's 2002 signing class was the upset victory for the Cardinal in the recruitment of big offensive tackle Jon Cochran. Iowa and Iowa State were thought to have this jumbo road grader in an in-state tug of war before he made his commitment to Stanford. No recruit has come to The Farm from the Hawkeye State since, but 2005 may end that drought. The Card again have their sights set on a 6'7" athlete, this time from Union High School in La Porte City, Iowa. This go-around, Stanford was the first school to offer.
"I hadn't really heard as much from Stanford in the beginning," Matt Pipho begins. "Then they talked with my coach. Then it was a bunch of emails. The offensive line coach came to see me, and then the head coach called to make the offer. I was pretty surprised, but happy."
Pipho's offer came the first week of Stanford's four-week May evaluation period, but that was just the beginning of a big month for the offensive tackle. He went to the Iowa Nike Camp less than two weeks later and dazzled all in attendance. The 6'7" athlete ran a 5.1 40 and a 4.66 shuttle while jumping 31 inches and putting up 26 repetitions on the bench.
"That was a little disappointing - I've done 30 [reps] before," he bemoans. "The one-on-one battles were good, but I have a lot of room for improvement - especially pass blocking."
While Pipho may downplay his performances, the staff on hand at the combine sang his praises by way of naming him the Camp MVP. He carries just 256 pounds on his frame today and moves with great agility and quickness. It's hard to believe that he weighed an even leaner 240 pounds last fall for his junior season. With a frame begging to carry much more weight, observers were excited about the player Pipho can be.
"I'm a little slower in top end speed compared to the fall, but I'm even quicker side to side," the Hawkeye State standout describes. "I'm a lot quicker than other guys. And if I can't outquick them, I can outpower them."
It is also noteworthy that 2003 was Pipho's first season playing offensive tackle. He previously played on offense at tight end, but in his debut season on the O-line he earned First Team All-State honors.
The week after his Camp MVP honors at Iowa City, Pipho saw recruiting interest from colleges pick up. The evaluation period had started slowly, other than Stanford's offer, but soon he was hearing from a breadth of Big 10 and Big 12 schools. Iowa State stepped up to the plate with the second Division I offer for Pipho.
"My coach told me at school, and then a letter came with the offer," the Union High School junior relates. "It's nice to have, but I'm keeping my eyes open."
Pipho goes on to name six schools as his current leaders. Iowa and Iowa State are no surprise, and Stanford is able to hold their ground with their offer. Notre Dame, Nebraska and Wisconsin round out his favorites. Each of those schools have made pitches to bring the towering tackle into camp, but only Iowa has thus far succeeded.
"I just got back from Iowa's camp. I did pretty good - a lot of one-on-one stuff," he reports. "They didn't say anything about a scholarship. They said they wait until they are done with all their camps before they make those decisions."
Over the course of the next week, Pipho will decide on his remaining summer camp dates. He is strongly considering Nebraska, Wisconsin and Notre Dame as possibilities.
One more trip in the offing would bring the offeree out West for a non-camp unofficial visit. Pipho says that he is "hoping" to visit Stanford in July after he wraps up camps and some local basketball events. In an ideal world, the Midwest recruit would prefer to make his college decision before he goes deep into his senior year and season. July visits would play a big part in that early commitment.
"I want to make a visit to Stanford to see what the campus and school is like. Academics are really important to me, and location isn't a big deal," the Iowan comments on the Cardinal. "Stanford's chances are pretty good, obviously. I like their facilities, though I haven't been out there to see them yet. But I like them from what I've seen on the Internet. After they offered me, I went online and studied more about Stanford. They have a nice tradition, small campus and a good student-to-teacher ratio. The coaches are nice, and their program is headed in the right direction."
Overall, Pipho says that three criteria will impact his final college decision:
- Player development - "I want to look at their strength & conditioning program and the recent development of players."
- "Can they put me in a position to win."
The Union High School honor roll student carries a 3.9 GPA and has scored a 29 on his ACT, putting him in fine position for Stanford's admissions process.
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