Conspicuously absent from the recruiting board in this 2005 Stanford class have been viable recruits from the Southeast. Just two years ago, the Cardinal hauled in 13 players from the region, including nine from Georgia and Florida. Last year, Stanford struck out, comparatively speaking, signing just one player from the Sunshine State and not a single body from the Peach State.
Surprisingly, prospects looked thinner still this year. That is, until we uncovered Chris Hobbs, Jr - cornerback from Marietta High School in Marietta, Ga. If the name rings a bell, you might remember his father, who played in those first breakout years at the University of Miami in the early 1980s under Howard Schnellenberger, alongside Jim Kelly and Mark Richt. The Bootleg has spoken with Chris Hobbs, Sr. about his son and some very interesting news on Stanford's recruitment.
"I know the recruiting process and know about the schools," says the elder Hobbs. "Chris has a 3.3 GPA and a lot of schools locally have known about him - the Georgias and the Auburns. But we wanted him to achieve more academically to go with the athletics. The SEC schools are pretty much all the same in my mind. None stick out academically."
The father sent junior film on his son to Stanford last off-season, which got the ball rolling. The regional recruiter for the Cardinal was tight ends coach George McDonald, who has now taken a job at Western Michigan after the coaching shakeup on The Farm. Hobbs gives the former Card coach credit with keeping the cross-country connection alive and well these several months.
"McDonald was pretty good in terms of keeping in contact. He let us know that there was high interest on [Stanford's] part," the father offers.
More importantly, the Cardinal recruiter kept hammering the important of the Stanford admissions application. Though Hobbs' father has been more than supportive of Stanford through this process, the application component did not resonate with him.
"When I was being recruited, I never had to write an essay for any school that talked with me," he explains. "So when we got the application from Stanford, I put it to the side. Fortunately, Coach McDonald was persistent. My wife is pretty thorough about that stuff, too. I have to congratulate Chris' mom on that. If it had been up to me, the application may not have gotten done."
But the Marietta HS senior did complete the packet of materials, and his father says that new Stanford coach Walt Harris gave the family the news just this past week: Chris Hobbs, Jr. has been accepted by the school. That is of course the single greatest hurdle in any recruitment for the Cardinal, and now it looks like Stanford and the cornerback are on a collision course. The recruit's first official visit will take him to The Farm the first visit weekend in January, spanning the 7th to the 9th.
"He's excited to come out there, and we think he'll have a great future with Stanford," the father says with a notable absence of mystery. "My brother is a retired investment banker in Oakland - it will be an asset for Chris to have family out there. We are all looking forward to the trip."
Both the father and mother will accompany the cornerback recruit on that weekend, which is the first of four official trips scheduled for January. The elder Hobbs says that there is a little confusion as to whether his son has a standing Stanford scholarship offer or not. What was communicated previously, about the timing and flow of events that included the admissions process, came from the old coaching staff. It is clear, however, that Hobbs holds offers from the other three schools he is schedule to officially visit in January: Southern Miss, UAB and Ball State. He has also been offered by Navy, Vanderbilt and Bowling Green.
A pair of notable Big 10 suitors, though not yet offerees, are Illinois and Minnesota. The Illini have been trying to score a visit from the Peach State prize for some time, while the Gophers sent a coach for a visit at Hobbs' school at the end of the recent contact period.
The list of offers may not overwhelm you, and the biggest reason for the shortfall is his size. At 5'9" and 172 pounds, Hobbs does not match up well on paper with the jumbo receivers that are increasingly populating the BCS conferences. But the Cardinal are excited about his speed, and hope they have unearthed the "next T.J. Rushing." Hobbs ran a 10.8 (FAT) in the 100m and a 21.9 in the 200m in his junior year and looks to knock those times down further in his senior season to come.
"He can make plays," his father says of his football acumen. "He's real fast, real quick. He has loose hips and all that."
Chris Hobbs, Jr. was an impact player on both sides of the ball this year. He is better known for his defense, teaming up with Traye Simmons as arguably the top cover cornerback pair in the state this year. Hobbs recorded more than 40 tackles to go with 12 pass breakups. As a result, Marietta found opponents reticent to throw the ball, and that played a big part in their 11-1 record this season. Their only loss came in a surprise second round upset in the Georgia state playoffs. On offense, Hobbs added 37 catches for 600 yards.
Cornerback, as every Cardinal fan knows too well, is a historically challenging position for Stanford to recruit. There are zero commitments from defensive backs to date in this class - not even an "athlete" who could be switched into the secondary. With his acceptance in hand and some exciting speed and athletic ability, Hobbs suddenly becomes one of the most stirring stories in this recruiting class. The comments from his father point toward a happy ending for the Cardinal, though the January 7 official visit will be all-important.
"Stanford by far is the best academic institution, but a 17-year old is interested in football," the senior Hobbs allows. "Chris wants to go out and get to know the coaches and players firsthand. Then he can make an informed decision."
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