When you hear news that Stanford beat out UCLA and Arizona for a recruit, you may instinctively wonder from which side of the Santa Ana Freeway he hails. But to find the Cardinal's fifth commitment in this 2005 recruiting class, you'll need to hop on a plane to Chicagoland and look for the Eisenhower Expressway. There in the Western suburbs you will encounter Glenbard West High School senior Tom McAndrew. In addition to his trio of Pac-10 offers, he was tendered scholarships by Illinois, Michigan State, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Indiana, Boston College, Duke and Northern Illinois. The obvious question: how did the 6'5" two-way standout draw such an eclectic national set of suitors?
"I must have some West Coast in my blood. I have no idea," McAndrew laughingly replies. "From what I hear, this Chicago class is supposed to be one of the best in a long while. I guess there are a lot of reasons for schools to travel and see who we are."
Take for example nearby Wheaton Warrenville South HS, which boasts five Division I prospects on their roster - four of which stood across from McAndrew on the offensive line during their season opening meeting last weekend. The talent in the Windy City is deep and exciting this year, and Tom McAndrew is one of the best.
As a junior he played linebacker and recorded over 80 tackles, while racking up over 300 receiving yards on 34 catches as a tight end. McAndrew earned All-Area honors but is looking to push himself to higher heights this year. He is stronger and faster and has sculpted his body into a leaner and meaner 245-pound machine. When he catches the ball, he is tough to take down. He hits on both sides of the ball like an old-school Chicago Bear.
McAndrew holds a 5.6 GPA at Glenbard West (on a five-point scale plus honors/AP points) and has scored a 1280 on the SAT. While that might make him a natural fit for Stanford, the Cardinal almost didn't receive his junior film when the student-athlete was assessing schools last February.
"I was looking around and deciding where to send film to," the Card commit recalls. "Stanford was one of the last schools I thought about, but then it hit me that they made a lot of sense. I talked to Ken Margerum, and he said that Stanford had the ability to move faster in recruiting someone like me than other schools because they don't have as big a recruit pool."
The Glen Ellyn man was enamored with what he learned about The Farm, so he flew out in late April and watched the Cardinal & White Scrimmage. But he also did a good deal of due diligence with other schools during the spring. Over his spring break, McAndrew drove to eight schools in eight days: Michigan State, Syracuse, Boston College, Yale, Penn, Pitt, Indiana and finally Notre Dame. An epic journey worth remembering, he had a tee-shirt printed that celebrated the 2,538 miles he and his family drove that week.
But the Cardinal separated from the rest of the pack when McAndrew elected to fly out for a second unofficial visit in just six weeks. He returned to The Farm on June 10 for another look at the campus, coaches and facilities. With confirmation of his positive impressions, he got an early start on the Stanford admissions application. He corralled his teachers and counselors and lined up his recommendations. The student-athlete put pen to paper on his portions of the application and was excitedly anticipating an answer in July. Then he learned that one of his teachers had fallen asleep at the while and failed to submit their recommendation. By the time that was fixed, McAndrew was thinking about moving his recruiting decision timeline to later in the year.
"I really wanted to keep my options open initially. I knew from other people that those recruiting doors open and close quickly," he explains. "On the day I heard I was admitted [to Stanford], I told Coach Teevens I wanted to come. The whole time, I didn't know what I would do. But on that day, it all just felt right. It just seemed right. It made sense to me."
McAndrew pledged his verbal commitment on August 18, but not until a week later did his decision become public news. He had a host of suitors to call and inform of his commitment, and he wanted to do so personally, rather than let them read it on a recruiting service. The end was sudden and unexpected for all involved, but McAndrew confidently backs his decision.
"Palo Alto seemed pretty familiar to me, and we have some family in the extended Bay Area," he details. "It wasn't just the academics, the athletics or the weather. They were collective reasons. It's kind of cool - just seemed like the right thing to do. It made sense. Coaches everywhere said we did this the right way - seeing schools and showing interest in them."
Interest for Cardinalmaniacs™ now turns to the question of where McAndrew will help Stanford starting in the fall of 2005. When you consider that the 6'5" athlete played tight end, "Sam" outside linebacker, inside linebacker, "rush" defensive end, kicker and punter - all in his first game last weekend - you understand the muddled picture in assigning one position to this versatile athlete. He could project as a TE, OLB or DE for Stanford, depending on the Cardinal's needs and what body he brings next August. Looking at his frame, it would be my guess that he would fit at defensive end, but George McDonald and Tom Quinn will surely fight Dave Tipton before that is settled.
"We haven't really specified what position I'll play at Stanford. I'm open for everything," the recruit maintains.
In the meantime, curious fans may want to head to Chicagoland to take a look for themselves at this prized two-way standout. Many Stanford fans will travel to the area the weekend of the Notre Dame game (Oct. 9) and should think about a side-trip to Hinsdale Central that Friday night. At 7:30 PM you will enjoy a battle of two of the top teams in Illinois.
2004 Glenbard West Schedule (all times Central/local)
Aug. 27 at Wheaton Warrenville South, L (7-21)
Sept. 3 at Hinsdale South, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 11 vs. Addison Trail, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 17 at York, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 25 vs. Downers Grove North, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 2 vs. Lyons, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 8 at Hinsdale Central, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 16 vs. Oak Park-River Forest, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 23 at Proviso West, 1 p.m.
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