Three weeks ago, Stanford fans were mortified by the reported news that local boy Will Powers had his focus on three college football programs: Cal, Nebraska and Notre Dame. Powers is a premier Peninsula standout at Serra High School just up the road in San Mateo (Calif.), and it would be a stunning shutout for someone so close to The Farm, with such high athletic ability and academic credentials, to cut the Cardinal off his list before the fall got rolling. It is true that the 6'4" pass rushing demon has a wealth of regional and national suitors, which makes the competition for the Card intense. The only notable offer absent for Powers in the Pac-10 is USC; he also has scholarships tendered from powers back East like Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Notre Dame. Proximity and familiarity might work in Stanford's favor, but this is a crowded competition.
As it turns out, there is perhaps not the extent of familiarity for Powers with Stanford that you might assume. The San Mateo standout recently attended the Cardinal's season opener against San Jose State, and he tells The Bootleg that the game was the first ever he has attended on The Farm. That unofficial visit may have been an inflection point in the Card's recruitment of the OLB/DE.
"Football on the field is something that was an area of a little concern," Powers admits about his estimation of Stanford in the recruiting process. "But I think they're doing an OK job of that this year. They did pretty good against BYU, too. I'd like to see a few more games, on TV or otherwise."
"I've actually changed some opinions on some schools," the four-star recruit continues. "I have had areas of concern for each school on my list. But one area that hasn't changed for me is academics - the president of a university isn't going to transfer out in the way football can be swiftly affected. I have more emphasis on academics now than I did before."
Powers had previously indicated to The Bootleg in July that he wanted to cut his larger list of offer schools to a manageable group of five for official visits by the start of the fall; moreover, his feelings at the time were that Stanford was more likely to not make the cut than to survive the axe. Today, after an enthused experience at the San Jose State season opener and after upping his emphasis on academics, he tells us that the Card have made his cut.
"I have a top four, or actually top five depending if Michigan offers," Powers proclaims. "The four for sure are Cal, Stanford, Nebraska and Oregon. Michigan is looking at my junior tape and the film from the Edison game. I'm just playing the waiting game right now."
The #19 defensive end prospect in the nation says that with his busy football schedule this fall, time will be tight for official visits. None have been set and he is not committing at this time to official trips for any of his final favorites. What the Wolverines do could have a ripple effect through each of the schools.
"We don't have a bye week on our schedule," the Serra HS senior explains. "So it's hard to get out to schools for official visit weekends. There is the one weekend in December and then two in January - that's about it. I would probably be able to take three visits, four maximum. I don't know which schools I'll visit for sure. I'll wait to see if Michigan comes into the picture with an offer or not. They are the one school I haven't been to see yet, so they would be one. I might even narrow my list a little more to just three or more schools if Michigan offers. We'll just have to see."
Beyond official visit speculation, there has been more activity in the last week between the Card and this pass rushing specialist. Stanford coaches came to watch him in the stands this past weekend in Powers' second game of the year, a 52-21 drubbing of Terra Nova. The losing Tigers scored early on a fumble return, but their offense was stymied for three quarters by Powers and the Padres defense. Serra allowed just 30 yards of total offense in the first half and no offensive scores for Terra Nova until the fourth quarter, when Powers had left the game.
"I'm not seeing too many things this year that are brand new," Powers describes of his improvement since we last saw him as a junior. "I feel pretty confident in how I can handle most things thrown at me. Experience is the main factor, and I have more speed. One area I am still focused on improving is pursuit of the quarterback when he moves in the pocket. When you finally get around the offensive tackle or the tight end and he steps up in the pocket, I need to get my left foot down and get up to the ball."
The headline game in this young Serra season came a week earlier in their opener at Edison High School in Fresno. The visitors from San Mateo won that battle, 29-15, with Powers providing pressure on the renowned Edison offense from all positions of the defense.
"We knew coming in that they were more of a three-step passing team who wanted to get the ball out of the quarterback's hands quickly and into the hands of their athletes - see what they can make out of it," the versatile defender recalls. "They had a few big running plays, but we did an overall good job."
The other big recruiting news for Stanford and Will Powers comes in the admissions arena. The San Mateo student-athlete has had his application mostly completed, and 100% done on his end. But he was waiting for one missing teacher recommendation to come through. It finally did two weeks ago, and that set the table for a final read and review of his application materials last week. His weekly phone call from the Cardinal coaches gave him the good news that he had been admitted to Stanford, which is a non-trivial event.
"It makes it easier," he says of the admissions acceptance impact on his Stanford recruitment. "There is a certain level of happiness - it feels good. It is a relief to be able to move forward with Stanford without thinking about getting admitted."
Powers is just the fourth known admit in this 2005 Stanford Football recruiting class, and he is the only one of the four not yet committed to the Cardinal.
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