At the Goalline

As Stanford marvelously fills their needs on the defensive line and at the outside linebacker positions, Cardinalmaniacs are quietly asking about the inside linebackers in this class needed for the future of the 3-4 defense. Fred Campbell committed in the summer, but ILB recruiting has been quiet since. The next commit is close but has one hurdle still remaining...

The one name who was the greatest mystery for Stanford fans as they perused the 12-man landmark official visit weekend a couple weeks ago was undoubtedly Josh Catron.  The linebacker/running back from Torrance High School in Torrance (Calif.) has had the least written about him of those dozen Cardinal recruits, and he remains today an enigma to those who follow Stanford recruiting closely.  Do not mistake the lack of intel on this 6'1" 215-pound athlete for a lack of talent, or for a lack of interest on Stanford's part.

Catron rose quickly up the Cardinal's recruiting board this past summer when he camped at Stanford.  The coaching staff requested film from him after that tantalizing taste, and they traveled to watch him play last fall as a senior.  Though it has gone unreported for more than two months, Stanford offered him late in the fall and have been heavily pursuing him since.  The interest is mutual.

"Stanford is the school where I've wanted to go since I was in the eighth grade," the recruit reveals.  "I had already been there a couple times on unofficial visits, but the [January 7] official visit was amazing.  I had liked the campus before and had seen the stadium, but this time I got to see more of the student life.  During the summer there weren't many students around - school wasn't in session.  I was really pleased with what I saw."

The Torrance talent put up big number this year, running for 1650 yards and receiving another 600 on offense, totaling 20 touchdowns and earning First Team All-Area honors as an all-purpose back.  On defense he played outside linebacker and racked up an incredible 130 tackles, including 19 for losses and five sacks.

"Our first priority was to stop the run, and I would blitz, but I would also drop back into coverage on the slot receiver," Catron describes of his defensive responsibilities.  "I'm big and strong enough to take on a lineman or fullback, but I'm also quick enough to drop back in coverage...  Our offense is a double wing-T that runs a majority of the time.  I was our top running back and also our main receiver.  I'm a power running back - less finesse and more find the hole and run as hard as I can.  I could usually get a few extra yards after being hit."

The Torrance High School senior ranked #1 in the area in tackles and #3 as a running back.  He led the Tartars to their first playoffs in five years and first time to the second round in more than a decade.

Stanford tells Catron that they are recruiting him as an inside linebacker, specifically at the "Will" position where Kevin Schimmelmann currently starts and will be a fifth-year senior in the fall.  He also has a chance to play fullback for the Cardinal, with the strength and athleticism to become both a blocker and a menacing threat with the ball.

Torrance is typically a low-performing program, and that may be a contributing factor for why Catron was lightly recruited by the Pac-10.  Of his currently serious suitors, the student-athlete is only considering Stanford and several of the Ivies.  Official visits have taken him also to Harvard, Penn and Yale.  With a 4.3 GPA and a 1420 SAT, Catron was admitted to Stanford in December.

Once he was offered and then accepted to the school, Josh Catron should logically be a done deal for Stanford.  However, it was discovered that the two-way SoCal standout had some problems with his back at the end of the season, which threw up a red flag for the Cardinal coaches.

"I talked to Coach [Walt] Harris, and I can't commit until everything is cleared up," the recruit explains.  "I guess they've had situations in the past where a bad back or bad knees kept a kid from playing and they didn't tell Stanford.  We can't move further until we get some answers."

The remaining hurdle is an MRI that Catron needs to get done and send to Stanford for scrutiny.  If that examination of his back passes muster, then he will be free to make his commitment and shore up the inside linebacker recruiting for the Cardinal.  If the tests are unsatisfactory, however, then the Card will probably move on and leave Catron to one of his Ivy League options.  We will keep in touch with the linebacker/fullback recruit to bring you the resolution to this important story in the final week of the 2005 recruiting season.

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