Tavita Pritchard: "I am a Cardinal"

Stanford's success on the field is cause for some celebration these days, but behind the scenes an additional season is grinding away. The recruiting wars are a year-long fight, and the Card claimed a big victory when quarterback <b>Tavita Pritchard</b> gave his verbal commitment on Monday. A player of great potential, Pritchard comes at a position of great need.

The drought is over.

At the school known as "Quarterback U", we have not seen a Stanford quarterback commitment for nearly 26 months.  It was the end of August in 2002 when local phenom T.C. Ostrander gave his verbal pledge to the Cardinal, but the entire 2004 recruiting cycle came and went without a scholarship signal caller.  With just one slinger signed by Buddy Teevens in the last two years, the pressure and focus has been great in this 2005 class to corral a quarterback.  Relief finally arrived yesterday morning when Lakewood (Wash.) Clover Park senior Tavita Pritchard dialed up The Farm with great news.

"I called Coach [Buddy] Teevens this morning and told him I was committing," the enthused signal caller reported yesterday to The Bootleg.  "He was really excited.  They were in a staff meeting and he gave a big thumbs up to all the coaches."

Pritchard has had a range of suitors in his recruitment the last few months, including regional schools like Oregon, Washington and Washington State, as well as more distant relationships with Hawaii and Notre Dame.  But one school took an early lead with the 6'3" slinger when they offered him at their camp in June.  That put Stanford in the driver's seat for this Northwest nugget.  To see him headed to California for college does come, though, as some surprise for a family fanatical about Washington State.

"Tavita has grown up brainwashed to someday quarterback the Cougars.  That was always the plan," offers his father, David, who was a center for WSU back in the early 1980s.  "Things changed and it was strange at first.  Now, as a dad, how can you not be thrilled with the idea of your son attending a school like Stanford?  I'd have loved continuing to attend Washington State games and rooting for my Coug's, but I'm looking forward to cheering on the Cardinal.  The good news is I can still wear a lot of the same stuff!"

Ironically, the two schools met just this past weekend in the Palouse.  Family loyalties were conflicted on that cold and rainy Saturday evening, which saw Stanford hold on for a 23-17 victory.  But just two days prior, the family learned from Stanford that their son had been accepted to the school.  It was the last great hurdle for Pritchard and the Cardinal in their recruiting relationship, and that momentous news reverberated through lifelong rooting loyalties Saturday night.

"Coach Teevens called last Thursday to let Tavita know that he had been accepted, and we had such a busy weekend that we had very little time to talk," his father reports.  "I knew in my gut that Tavita was going to Stanford when, without thinking, I found myself cheering for the Cardinal.  Go Cardinal!"

"That was really exciting," the son comments on the Thursday admissions news. "Without all the football considerations, getting admitted to Stanford is a big accomplishment all by itself."

Pritchard did not immediately pull the trigger for the Card when he learned of his admittance, however.  He consulted with his immediate and extended family, including a number of uncles.  One of those uncles is none other than Jack "The Throwin' Samoan" Thompson, who is one of the great all-time Washington State slingers.  In addition to being a mentor at the quarterback position for his nephew, Thompson is an important part of the family support system.

"I've been praying a lot, leaving it up to God," the recruit relates.  "I've talked with my parents and my Uncle Jack a lot.  A lot of other uncles and close friends, too.  It all came back to the same thing, for Stanford."

The Clover Park senior student-athlete also says that he and his mother took a recent piece of mail from The Farm as a sign.  The brochure listed all the majors and areas of study available at Stanford, including pediatric anesthesiology.  That is precisely what Pritchard wants to pursue in his college studies.

With the Monday commitment, Pritchard can now simplify his hectic life.  Recruiting takes its toll on these young men, with the incessant deluge of phone calls from college coaches, plus all the exploration and discussion with family and friends about a life-altering decision.  This Washingtonian has been able to keep himself composed in school and football through the last several month, though, and now is ready to push ahead for a fantastic finish to the Warriors 2004 season.

"It feels really good," he says of his college commitment.  "Our team is just starting to make that regular season push.  It's a tremendous weight off my shoulders."

Clover Park (5-1) had a bye this past weekend and have two more games remaining before they hit the playoffs.  Pritchard has thrown for 1,333 yards on the season, with 13 touchdowns against just three interceptions.  His father is also the Warriors' offensive coordinator and is understandably excited about the work his son has done on the field in his senior year.

"I think the thing that I'm most proud of is Tavita's leadership," David declares.  "It is truly his offense and he takes charge of it.  He has a great grasp of the offense and is able to check us in and out of plays.  He truly has developed into a field general for us."

The younger Pritchard is renowned for his touch and mechanics, which have translated into numerous big passing plays this fall.  His father says that despite those successes, he can nitpick one area of improvement.

"Tavita throws a very nice long ball and is extremely confident in his ability to deliver it," the Clover Park offensive coordinator contends.  "We are working on knowing when to take the short routes and when to let it fly."

Another fan of the Lakewood standout is Scout.com Northwest recruiting analyst Chris Fetters, who has watched Pritchard grow and develop as one of the region's top playmakers.  The quarterback is currently ranked as the #14 overall Northwest recruit in the 2005 class, and he stands as the #83 prospect in the West region according to Scout.com.

"I like Tavita for a lot of reasons," says Fetters.  "He's a prolific prep QB, so he's used to putting up big numbers.  His mechanics are top-notch because he's been working with Jack Thompson forever.  He's got size, good speed, very good arm strength and is very coachable.  Teevens and Stanford will love him."

For your own look at the mechanics and footwork of this newest Cardinal commit in action, check out Scout.com's exclusive video footage of Pritchard taken at the famed Air Attack camp held late last spring.

Tavita Pritchard Video

Pritchard is the sixth public verbal commitment for Stanford in this 2005 class, and the first quarterback.  He is also the first player to commit to the Card from the Northwest since offensive lineman Bobby Dockter gave his pledge in September of 2003.

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