It is a recruit's worst nightmare. He sifts through a bevy of schools and scholarship offers and finds a head coach who he believes and who believes in him. He makes a commitment... but then sees that coach yanked out from under him. Sometimes the case is the coach jumping to another job, but Monday on The Farm we saw a head coach fired. For Kansas City (Mo.) standout athlete Ben Ladner, the world is spinning as he tries to make sense of the news that Buddy Teevens has been dismissed from the Stanford Football program.
Ladner appreciated how Teevens made an early offer to him before he blew up at the Nike Camp held on Stanford's campus last spring. The Cardinal coaching staff made the Pembroke Hill School two-way talent a priority, which spoke to the role he would play in their program. Ladner gave his commitment to Teevens back in May and put recruiting out of his mind since. As the news broke Monday that Stanford was without a head coach, other schools pounced on the opportunity to get back in Ladner's head. Kansas and Tulsa spoke with him on the phone; he exchanged emails with Wisconsin and Arkansas, with phone calls to follow.
A few short hours after the press conference that officially announced Stanford's firing of Teevens, Ladner cancelled his official visit scheduled to bring him to Palo Alto this weekend.
"I want to meet the new coach," the recruit revealed to The Bootleg. "I want to be there when things are more settled."
No new visit date was firmly set, though discussions were pointing to the January 7 weekend. That would give the Stanford program time to settle not just on their next head coach, but also the breadth of the new coaching staff. Ladner has grown very close with Steve Morton, the regional recruiter who took the lead in this relationship, as well as tight ends coach George McDonald and defensive line coach Dave Tipton - the two position coaches for whom he could have played at Stanford. It is not at all clear who, if any, of the current assistants will remain with the Cardinal in the next regime.
"I just know, for example, when [Frank] Solich was fired at Nebraska last year, the whole staff left except one coach - just to finish recruiting," the Midwest man explains. "I assume a majority of the Stanford coaches will have to leave. I hope a good number stay because I have gotten to know them so well."
While other schools solicit Ladner for official visits, and the recruit postpones his planned trip to Stanford, it is hard to paint a happy face on the direction this story is quickly taking.
However, a calming conversation with Steve Morton late Monday evening turned things back around. The 6'3" 265-pound athlete reversed course and put his Stanford visit back on the calendar for this weekend.
"I just talked with Coach Morton - talked the visit issue over," the recruit relates. "We talked about the pros and cons of going now and decided to put it back on this weekend."
"Seeing that I'm sure they'll get a great coach, I can't see myself going anywhere else," Ladner concludes. "I still hurt for some of the coaches, but I'm going to Stanford. Basically, as long as Palm Drive and Memorial Church are still there, I'm going. Bottom line: it's hard to see myself not going to Stanford."
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