If you take a look at the Stanford Football prospects list for this 2005 recruiting class, the #2 overall Cardinal recruit as rated by the experts at Scout.com is Erik Lorig. The 6'4" 250-pound athlete is a beast of a physical specimen and currently ranked the #8 tight end in America as well as the #15 overall player in the state of California. He could play several positions on both sides of the ball with his size, strength and athleticism, so his list of offers has been long and distinguished. His academic profile has allowed him to be recruited by Stanford, but reports through much of the last year have more often than not had him favoring USC and Cal. Those two schools are in his top and final five, as well as Stanford, UCLA and Notre Dame. Lorig just took his official visit to The Farm this past weekend and has a lot to say about where the Cardinal stand today in his complex picture.
It is first noteworthy that Lorig left campus early and did not enjoy the full 48 hours allowed by NCAA rules for an official visit. He was with the recruits and player hosts at the Stanford men's basketball game, where the Card rocked Maples Pavilion with an upset win over #13-ranked Arizona, but Lorig left before the end of the second half to head home to Rolling Hills (Calif.).
"I had a previous engagement that Saturday night that I had set up three or four months ago," the recruit reports. "I wanted to do both, and the coaches worked with me to make my visit work the best we could. I just didn't do the last night of going out. I don't think I missed much."
In the world of recruiting, observers scrutinize every little detail - both actions and words - from top prospects to find clues about which school is rising up and which is out of favor. For Lorig to leave Stanford on his official visit with almost another day remaining on the clock, it is easy to read into that move something less than favorable chances for the Cardinal.
"That's not true at all," Lorig fires back. "I'm very serious about Stanford and had a great time. I paid a lot of attention last weekend to how the team functions and sticks together. I definitely wanted to experience the team camaraderie. I watched on Friday this event they do each week called a soirée - they played basketball this time. Those guys really showed how much team chemistry they have. It made a big impression on me."
With such strong options available to him, the Palos Verdes Peninsula High School standout has to ask himself and the schools tough questions if he hopes to narrow down the field of five to a final choice. For Lorig, the most obvious questions surround the future of the program and what direction new head coach Walt Harris is taking.
"This was the first weekend in town for several of the new coaches," the recruit reminds us. "Coach [Wayne] Moses was their for the first time this year. Coach [Ben] McAdoo just signed his contract with Stanford the morning we got there! They were also working on a wide receivers coach who was visiting that weekend. There was a lot going on, so we were learning what Stanford and Coach Harris will do."
With rumors flying about Lorig's preference for USC and Cal, you have to ask the question about how he views programs like the Trojans' and Bears' who are at a high level right now, versus the Stanford and Notre Dame situations where rebuilds are just underway with new head coaches.
"I find satisfaction at building from nothing to the top," he offers in support of the Card and Irish. "I thing that is something that everybody should do at some time in their life."
When asked directly about the persistent chatter that the Trojans are his prohibitive favorite, with their back-to-back national championships and proximity to home, the four-star prospect firmly refutes the notion.
"I would say that is an inadequate description of my recruitment," he starts. "Every school I'm looking at is a place I'm considering highly. I think maybe one reporter tricked me once into saying that Cal and USC were my top two, and it's just been recycled since. I don't know how kids can change their favorites every week. I haven't had that epiphany yet where one school has become the clear answer. I hope it will hit soon, though. Fortunately I function well under pressure."
Another source of discussion has been the position preferences for Lorig. He has been a dominating performer on both sides of the ball in high school, and his physical tools make him attractive at several positions at the college level. It has been said that Lorig badly wants to play offense, and tight end in particular, when he steps up to the Division I level, and that could ostensibly send shockwaves through his recruiting favorites given that several see him at other positions. Here is what he says is the latest he hears from his top five about where they are recruiting him to play:
USC - "An H-back hybrid position."
Cal - "Tight end, tight end, tight end."
UCLA - "Tight end, but they say they could also see me playing on the defensive line at defensive end."
Notre Dame - "The previous staff said I could play tight end but they wanted me more for defense. Now they are adamant for me on defense."
Stanford - "They've been recruiting me as a 'big athlete.' They want as many as they can get - the best in the nation. Now they are talking more defense. I would either play the 'Sam' linebacker position or put on another 30 pounds and play defensive end."
"I wouldn't say I have a strong preference for offense," Lorig adds. "I do love to catch the ball, even though I got so few chances this year, and I can block. But I trust the coaches at these schools to know what is best for me, and I will trust them. I wouldn't say my recruited position is a major factor; it is one of many factors I'm looking at."
What then does he feel is the major criteria he is evaluating for these schools?
"I'm definitely trying to pick up on who has the perfect balance of academics and athletics," the SoCal standout shares. "I try to put 110% of myself into school when I'm studying, and the same into football when I'm on the field. All the schools I'm looking into have very high academic reputations and very strong athletic programs. I'm also looking into the environment of the school. What would happen if I suffered a career-ending injury? Would I still want to be at that place without football?"
Given that he already states his feeling that these final five schools are excellent in balancing sports and studies, that seemingly leaves the fuzzy 'environment' category as a determinant factor. But even then, he offers little that he can currently separate among these schools.
"I'm a very adaptable guy. That's the problem," he laughs. "I can be a city guy or a rural guy. I really adapt to my surroundings."
By now you get the picture that 1) Erik Lorig is a very nice young man who is sure to speak respectfully and complimentary toward his schools; and 2) he is genuinely enamored with these options such that he does not have a very clear answer in front of him.
So how in the world is he going to make his college commitment in the next week, as he has stated he hopes to do?
"I have no idea," he admits. "Well, I have some idea. There are two or three schools on my list - there are three, really, that I'm pretty serious about. Coaches will come visit me next week, and I think those visits will help me finish sorting it all out."
Lorig is a nice kid, but he's also a smart one. We reporters think ourselves clever enough to bait or trick our interview subjects into spilling their inner-most thoughts and feelings. I did not even try to extract those three schools from Lorig, but I did ask about the Cardinal.
"Stanford is in that three," he revealed last night. "The biggest thing of all with them, and I've said this before, is getting into school. Coach [Tom] Quinn told me yesterday that he would probably let me know tonight if I got admitted or not. If I am admitted, then Stanford stays up top and will make this a really hard decision. If I'm not admitted, then obviously I can't go to Stanford so they will be out of consideration."
"I have a good GPA, I got my test score up to an 1180 and I put really good thought into my essays," Lorig comments on his application. "The coaches say that they really want me badly, but they don't have control over what happens in Admissions. They said there is no guarantee."
There are a myriad of issues and complexities surrounding Erik Lorig and his final five schools, including a very recently rescheduled official visit this weekend to Notre Dame. But he understands that the single issue that really matters right now, as it relates to the Cardinal, is his admissions answer. We will keep you updated on that critical information as soon as the standout student-athlete learns and shares it with us.
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