Perhaps no Cardinal recruit has ridden the emotional rollercoaster of the past two-plus weeks more than Chris Marinelli. The 6'7" 290-pound offensive tackle from Boston College High School in Massachusetts committed to Stanford in July and enjoyed smooth sailing in the comfort of that decision until November 28. That afternoon, he learned from then-offensive coordinator and Northeast regional recruiter Bill Cubit that Buddy Teevens had been fired. Not only did Marinelli lose the head coach to whom he had committed, but also he lost a man with whom he had built a strong personal relationship. While most recruiting gets done by assistant coaches, this bond was forged for Marinelli with the head man, who was also a Massachusetts native.
"I was Coach Teevens' guy," the rattled recruit told The Bootleg the day of the firing news. "The next coach who comes in may not think of me as the same player, and he could just recruit in his guys the next year. He might have guys this year he wants to sign at Stanford. I want to play football in college, and I always felt with Coach Teevens that I would have a fair chance."
Marinelli predictably received a deluge of phone calls once word got out of Teevens' firing. Recruiting had become a distant memory for the monolithic lineman, but he started grinding those gears again and explored the idea of reopening his recruitment. In particular, he was keen on taking official visits.
But right in front of him was his official trip to The Farm. It was an awkward weekend to spend his one paid trip to his commitment school, with not only no head coach but also a sleepy campus starting final exams. There was one silver lining to the weekend, though, which he enjoyed.
"The coaches gave us space and really let us hang out with the kids most of the time," Marinelli remembers. "Those are great guys, and it made me remember why I committed in the first place. That's what hit me when I came out during the summer - how much I was like the kids."
But with no head coach on The Farm, and thus some uncertainty about his role in the future of Stanford Football, the recruit listened to the reborn sales pitches of suitors. Rewind six months, and you may remember the other finalists for Marinelli before he made his commitment to the Card. His high school is inexorably tied in so many ways to Boston College, and the Eagles were a major player in this race. Down the coast, Duke made a strong pitch that earned them the #1 rank on the recruit's leader board - just two weeks before he reversed course and committed to Stanford. One of those schools is still hard at work on the big Bostonian, while the other remains on the sidelines.
"Boston College has already filled up and doesn't have the need for for a big tackle anymore," Marinelli describes. "Duke is still calling a lot, and North Carolina has gotten into it."
While the Eagles landed two good-sized linemen after Marinelli committed to Stanford, including 6'6" four-star Patrick Sheil, the Blue Devils apparently see a place for the Massachusetts man. He says that he just this week had Duke's defensive coordinator at his first indoor track meet of the winter season, at which time the recruit and recruiter talked. Marinelli was invited to Durham for a January 14 official visit, which would bring him down the same weekend with fellow Bay State standout Zack Asack. The offensive tackle has not yet accepted the invitation.
"I don't know. I'm not thinking as hard about taking official visits as I was at first," Marinelli maintains. "It might be fun to go down to UNC for their bowl game in Charlotte. If I take any visit, it would be totally for the fun of it."
"I want everyone to know that I am totally committed to Stanford," he adds. "I can't wait to get out there. I would only take a visit somewhere for fun."
Marinelli meanwhile is just getting to know new Cardinal head coach Walt Harris. The recruit has spoken with the recently hired man from Pittsburgh, though the two are just getting to know each other.
"Coach Harris seems like a good guy," the recruit reveals. "He said he couldn't believe the core courses I was taking. I told him, 'Coach, that is what you have to do to get into Stanford!' He told me that he has had two Biletnikoff Award winners, and he'll pass the ball. He told me to get ready to be able to pass block for him at Stanford."
The next few days will be eventful for Marinelli. He says that Stanford coach Tom Quinn is coming to see him Friday morning for an in-home visit, which will be the first for the Cardinal commit since Walt Harris was hired as the head coach. Quinn has been named as a holdover from the previous staff to the new Harris regime, which starts him on his fourth straight year on The Farm.
Later that day, Marinelli will fly down to Miami, Fla. For a recruiting visit? No, the diehard fan is making the trip to see his beloved New England Patriots when they play against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football.
"It's going to be huge. C'mon, you have John Madden in the trailer and everything," he comments excitedly. "I know the Patriots are great now, but I'm a diehard fan who has stuck with them all along. I loved my Patriots even when Pete Carroll was there. I hate Pete Carroll now, though, because he's the USC coach."
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up) and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!