Every year, without fail, several of Stanford's top targets are taken off the board when they cannot gain acceptance to the school via the admissions application process. Erik Lorig will not be one of those infamous Admissions tombstones in the 2005 class, though, as he found out last weekend from Walt Harris the long-awaited news that he was accepted to Stanford.
"It was a huge relief and great news," Lorig emotes. "Now that I'm admitted, it makes my decision a lot harder. If I hadn't gotten in, it would have made my decision easier."
The leaves the Rolling Hills (Calif.) recruit still considering the Cardinal along with USC, California, UCLA and Notre Dame. Though Lorig has not yet visited the Irish in South Bend, he and his family are still talking to Charlie Weis with interest. The Palos Verdes Peninsula High School senior has been on and off again with the prospect of officially visiting Notre Dame, but each New England Patriots victory keeps Weis in Boston out of Indiana. The Irish did send an assistant into the home this past week, as was the case for the other four suitors. USC sent head coach Pete Carroll and his son, tight ends coach Brennan Carroll on Monday. UCLA came in yesterday and Cal is in the home today with Jeff Tedford.
The Cardinal sent Thursday to Rolling Hills the three assistants who could potentially be the position coaches for Lorig at Stanford: Dave Tipton (defensive line), Tom Quinn (outside linebackers) and Ben McAdoo (tight ends). While it is not unusual at this time of year for a school to send in several coaches to a bluechip recruit's home like this, the complexity of that Cardinal coaching front is representative of a critical issue for Lorig. Each of his schools are presenting a different approach for how they would ostensibly employ him on the football field. Stanford has recruited him for some time as a "big athlete" with potential use on offense or defense. Lorig has indicated that more recently there has been more emphasis on defense, which could be a problem given his publicly stated preference to play offense (tight end). The pendulum apparently has swung again, though, in how the Cardinal are conveying their message to the 6'4" athlete.
"I think they are coming to see me as a true offense/defense recruit," Lorig describes. "It's not necessarily defense now."
His mother, Karen Lorig, paid close attention to what the coaches portrayed in her home, and she feels that they would give her son a good first shot at offense.
"I felt like they would let him play tight end first, and possibly defense later if the opportunity arose," she offers. "Coach McAdoo talked the most about tight end technique. Defense is in the background."
"It was just a really productive session," the recruit's mother adds. "Erik learned a lot - we all did. The coaches were all great. What a trio! The new tight ends coach is just tops, and we were thrilled to see Dave Tipton back. He's the best. We have met him before, of course, and we just love him."
You would imagine Stanford's strength at this point lies in their academics. But Erik Lorig says that his mind is more on the gridiron than the classroom as he tries to differentiate between his final five schools.
"All the schools left that I'm looking at passed the academics screen. That's why they're still here," he declares. "Now I'm down to the finer examination of the football aspects of the programs."
If this has truly become a football decision for Lorig, Stanford is then presumably a strong underdog to at least Cal and USC, who were the two most dominant football programs out West and two of the best in the nation this year. The Cardinal floundered to the point that they had to fire their head coach and bring in Walt Harris. Unless they can make a convincing argument for the football opportunity that exists on The Farm, at the ground level of a rebuilding project, Stanford has little apparent advantage to work. That all being said, the Cardinal coaches are not ready to abandon the edge of the Stanford diploma.
"They touched on everything," Karen Lorig describes of Thursday's balanced pitch. "For them, the academics are as important as the football. But football is still tops and every player should maximize their potential. Stanford is just a great marriage of athletics and mind growth."
Her son says that five schools are still involved, but three lie at the forefront of his mind. He does allow that Stanford is one of those three. Lorig denies that he has any one leader, or even a lean within the trio. He previously said he was waiting for a moment of singular clarity to bring one school ahead from that three...
"No, I haven't had the epiphany yet," Lorig laughs. "But I will soon."
Which school will have the last chance to bring that clarity to the SoCal athlete? Stanford has head coach Walt Harris coming into the Lorig home tomorrow for what the recruit believes will be his last in-home visit. He expects to have his college decision within the week. We will check back with Lorig this week to get his reaction to Harris' final pitch, as well as Stanford's chances.
Erik Lorig is ranked the #8 tight end in the nation by Scout.com and the #15 overall player in California.
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