Stanford did not make the complete statement they intended Saturday evening, when they came up short in the second half and just missed defeating #1 ranked and defending National Champion USC. But the Cardinal did send notice with their dominant first half, which sent the 99-year rival to the locker room down by a 28-17 score. Not until the end of the fourth quarter did the Trojans come back and take the lead at 31-28. It was not the final result Stanford wanted to see, but they were the better team for a good portion of the game, and that message was received by recruits near and far who watched the nationally televised game.
Several top recruits were in attendance for the contest, and the impact of that game just might be felt when they sign their National Letters of Intent in February. One key coup could be four-star tight end/defensive line recruit Erik Lorig, who flew up that day from Rolling Hills (Calif.) specifically to see the game. The #8 TE prospect in the nation has not been a hot topic in Cardinal recruiting circles because of his repeated lean toward nearby USC and his father's alma mater, California. He does however list Stanford among his favorites, and now they may have moved up his list.
"I've always liked Stanford, with their athletics and what they offer you academically," he maintains. "That game just solidified what I've heard. I've been talking to Coach [Tom] Williams there, and he's right what he's been telling me all along. Seeing that game helped. Stanford is really coming up. They're back."
Lorig did not have the chance to do much else on the campus that you might expect from an unofficial visit. He had to watch film with his Palos Verdes Peninsula High School coaches and teammates from 8-10 a.m. that morning. With a 4 p.m. kickoff in Stanford Stadium, he was able to catch his flight and only arrive in time to get to the sidelines as the Cardinal team came out to the field. Afterward he talked a little with some coaches and headed home.
"You could tell how disappointed they were after the loss - how close they were," Lorig reports. "They knew they absolutely could have won the game."
Though the Card may have experienced an uptick with the #18 player in the state of California, it has been thought for some time that Stanford will play second fiddle to two in-state conference rivals. USC is in Lorig's backyard and has been a 500-pound recruiting gorilla the last two years, while the recruit's father is a Cal alum and serious fan of the Bears.
"Actually my mom went to UCLA as well as my dad at Cal," the SoCal recruit explains. "My dad's a pretty big Cal fan, but there has been no pressure from them on either side."
But isn't it safe to say that the Trojans and Bears hold some lead over other suitors at this time?
"I'd say that SC, Cal and Stanford have made me the most comfortable so far," Lorig answers. "Stanford has been recruiting me more lately and telling me what they want from me as a player. They like that I'm a big athlete who could play tight end or defensive end for them. And the way they handle things, they give you a chance at one position, and if that doesn't work out, then you can move to another."
The 6'4" 250-pound athlete says that he will have to wait until after his senior season concludes before he can start his official visits. He also has a little winnowing to do to bring his list of six favorites down to the five that the NCAA allows a student-athlete to officially visit.
"I don't know yet what my criteria will be for making those decisions. I'm still trying to figure out my formula," he admits. "My top schools I'm looking at right now are Cal, SC, Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington. All of them have offered. I'm obviously going to have to cut one off that list, but I'm not ready to do that."
Lorig universally impressed recruiting scouts and college coaches alike this past spring when he performed at tight end at the Nike Camp held on Stanford's campus. His frame and mobility could lend themselves to either side of the ball, and understandably there are variances in how his top six suitors are recruiting him. He says that Cal, UCLA and Washington all have him pegged as a tight end, while Stanford and USC see him as either a tight end or defensive lineman. Specifically, he adds, the Trojans are talking about a halfback variant of the tight end position if he ends up on offense. The lone school who is talking exclusively defense is also the one program outside the Pac-10: Notre Dame.
"I don't need to stay close to home. I'm not worried about the distance," Lorig maintains for the South Bend (Ind.) school.
The only two concerns on his mind right now are his senior season and the Stanford admissions application. Palos Verdes Peninsula had gotten off to a red-hot 3-0 start, putting up a minimum of four touchdowns each game and only once allowing double digits for their opponent. It is the best start in years for the Panthers, and Lorig is doing his part on both sides of the ball. It's no surprise to see him at tight end on offense, but you might be intrigued to hear him playing inside linebacker in the team's 5-2 defense.
"I read the guards and have to be all over the field," the 250-pound athlete explains. "I sometimes have to drop back in coverage, or other times I have to come up and stuff the run."
When it comes to recruiting, Lorig is taking his time in feeling out his top six schools, given that he will not take official visits for at least another two months. But he is quite aware of the admissions process he has to navigate to keep Stanford as one of his options come Signing Day.
"That application is probably the most important thing when it comes to Stanford," the student-athlete says. "I have a 3.8 GPA with lots of AP and honors classes at school. I got an 1130 on the SAT but I'm retaking that on October 9. I'm working on the application and want it done in probably the next three or so weeks. I can get back that SAT score one or two weeks after I take it, so that's when I want to have everything done and sent to Stanford."
"Getting into the school is obviously vital," Lorig continues. "If I can't get it, well, that's the end of that. It's that simple. I'm not sure yet, but if I can get into school, I'll probably take an official visit there. But getting in is the most important thing right now."
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