It has been a little more than two years now since Stanford received a commitment from a quarterback, and that is a disquieting phenomenon for "Quarterback U." With Ryan Eklund about to graduate and Kyle Matter's shoulder a serious question mark, the Card could have just two active signal callers with any college experience next fall. The pressure to sign a talented thrower in this recruiting class, if not a pair, is palpable. Of Stanford's top two slingers on the board, Tavita Pritchard has carried the stronger admissions credentials with an 1170 SAT. The Lakewood (Wash.) standout is moving rapidly forward with the Cardinal and could slake their thirst soon.
"I don't have any new offers," Pritchard professes. "I'm trying to get the Stanford application done right now. I was missing just one teacher recommendation, but that should be in by now. I should know in the next couple weeks if I'm accepted. Stanford is looking really good right now, but I'm not ready to commit yet."
The Clover Park High School senior is hearing from a range of schools currently. Outside the Pac-10, he has Idaho, Montana and Ivy League schools like Harvard, Princeton and Yale knocking on his door. In the conference, interest levels are up-and-down among his Northwest suitors.
"At Washington, we talked with Coach Pelleur and he thinks they are about to get a commit, so they're off my list," the recruit reports. "Oregon is still open and wants to come see a game. Washington State still sends letters; it's weird with them. I don't know if I'd jump even if they made an offer right now."
For a young man whose father and uncle both played in Pullman, and who has grown up a lifelong Cougar fan, that last statement is telling. More and more, Pritchard is gravitating his emotions toward Palo Alto. With a possible admissions decision right around the corner, and with the pressure always high for quick quarterback commits, the obvious question is whether Pritchard could pull the trigger soon. Or would he need to wait until his official trip in the winter to The Farm?
"I don't necessarily need to take an official," he answers. "If I am accepted, I would sit down with my parents and decide on Stanford versus the other schools."
Pritchard has seen the Cardinal campus and coaches up close previously, it should be noted. He spent time unofficially in late June at Stanford for the overnight camp that yielded his scholarship offer. With a family focus on academics, that offer engendered some excitement, though he says it was watching Stanford's nationally televised game against USC a few weeks ago that really set him on fire.
"It was awesome watching that battle. They had the so-called number one defense in the nation on their heels," Pritchard exclaims. "They're a fun team to watch, and I've made some serious Stanford fans here in this Washington State home. Also, growing up a Cougar, you learn to hate SC. I hate that fight song. When J.R. Lemon ran for that long touchdown, we were all just screaming."
"You lick your chops at the chance to be a part of that," he allows.
For his own part, Pritchard started off his senior season throwing the ball impressively. In his first two games, he threw 55 times for 520 yards. In his first four games, he racked up just a shade under 1,000 yards in the air. But as dumb luck would have it, the one game he played with Stanford head coach Buddy Teevens and offensive line coach Steve Morton in the stands, the Warriors ran for 390 yards and scarcely threw the ball. Pritchard was able to attempt just 13 passes in the game, a 54-10 woodshed job, though he converted with 129 yards on eight completions.
"Believe it or not, my dad is actually our offensive coordinator," he laughs. "You have to take what they give you, and they gave us the running game that night. It was a good game for the Stanford coaches to see our team, though, and me as a leader."
After a 4-0 start, Clover Park finally stumbled a couple weeks ago when rival White Plains recorded a surprising 26-19 upset. Pritchard threw for just 45% completions and no touchdowns in a disappointing performance against a school he has never beaten. But the Warriors bounced back the next week with a 42-0 thumping of Washington High School. Pritchard threw for 200 yards on 60% passing with a pair of touchdown tosses. On the season, that puts Clover Park at 5-1 and their star quarterback at 1,333 yards with 13 touchdowns versus just three interceptions.
"I definitely feel a lot more mature," Pritchard assesses of his progress this senior season. "My game has matured a lot. I'm making more reads and going through my progression. I have more checks at the line and taking better drops. I'm throwing the deeper ball better; I have better touch and am more accurate."
The key question observers still ask is how the lean body of this slinger will develop. He currently weighs 187 pounds but looks around his Samoan family and is confident that genetics are on his side.
"I'm trying to fill out a little, working on my strength and speed," Pritchard describes. "I'm drinking protein shakes and lifting every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning."
"I eat a ton. I eat 'till I'm full, and then push a little further," he says with a chuckle. "My dad is shoving food down my throat."
Pritchard and Clover Park have a bye this week before wrapping up their final two regular season games. More than just a time to eat, it may very well prove a window in which the focal Card quarterback recruit makes some news in the recruiting realm. We'll keep close tabs and keep you up to date with all his latest.
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