Report on Stanford Football's LOI Day

Here is the complete scoop on all the goings-on from the Farm on LOI day and its reception. Read on for reports on the game film of the Class of 2002 recruits, comments on and by the new coaches, as well as a couple of randoms on 2003 and Stanford punting...

  • The film of Trent Edwards was eye-opening. I've seen him before, but that collection highlighted a rare quarterback. His 75% completion percentage does not come from a dink & dump offense, like you might envision in recollections of what Georgia Tech did to Stanford in the Seattle Bowl. He was throwing over the defense consistently, dropping the ball over the shoulders of his receivers. Equally comforting was seeing his footwork in the pocket under pressure. Advanced for his age, and very cool. Believe the hype - every bit of it.
  • David Lofton was listed in the press release as a QB, and he was discussed at the reception as a QB. Tipton specifically made the statement that Stanford wanted two QBs in this class. Publicly, everything is being said to indicate that David will get his chance at QB. So did Teyo. But like Teyo, I see an athlete who could help at WR. He has wheels and very long legs. The footage was almost exclusively at QB, and to his credit, he can throw bombs. Very strong arm that might be longer than any other on the Farm today. I'll look forward to the contest between him and Ryan Eklund.
  • We have some huge linemen coming in. Beall, Vinson, Cochran and Simpson are every bit of their listed weights, if not more. The Beall footage, which I understand came from his first game his junior year, showed a Goliath who was able to drive anyone and everyone into the ground, back on their heels. At the start of his junior year. It is hard to judge a lot of these guys, when they are so much bigger and more athletic than their opponents, but there are some real players in the group. Simpson was lightly recruited, but could surprise in this group. He's a double-wide load, if you will, but is incredibly fast. Tape showed him pull across the field from his tackle position - in a hurry. I've met both Jeff Edwards and Matt McClernan in person, and the film confirmed that they can use more meat and weight training. Edwards could be very good. McClernan is still coming on. Noted that almost all of these guys can run and really push people 10-15 yards downfield.
  • Matt Traverso is truly a punishing drive-blocker. It's a repeated theme, but the blocking is seldom appreciated from tight ends. That was the reason Brett Pierce rose to the top of the depth chart, even in the midst of some great receivers. I have little doubt that Matt could contribute in his second year; possibly his first if there weren't three excellent TEs in front of him. Couldn't gleam much of his hands, since they aren't going to show drops, but his running after the catch spoke to his athleticism. Stanford got a great one.
  • Julian Jenkins is surprisingly fast. He gets across the field, and recovers from being blocked to the ground, lightning quick. In Guru's dream of a 3-4 defense, he's a natural terrorizer to be out at OLB. I think with more work in the weight room, he'll have the strength to go with that quickness, and will be a tall order for tackles and tight ends to contain. This guy is special.
  • Taualai Fonoti (pronounced FON-uh-tee) and Mike Silva were not heavily recruited, but the evaluations are that both are just coming into their own. Fonoti is shows very good instincts for the ball, and is a punishing hitter. His speed isn't great, but he closes well on the ball. You could hear almost schoolboy-ish excitement from Tipton when talking about Fonoti.
  • All four of Stanford's incoming defensive backs delivered on their reputations as hard hitters. You could see how all of them could be safeties, but McCutcheon and Rushing have the speed that will necessitate they play at cornerback. Of particular note was the explosive speed of TJ Rushing, which jumped out more than anything else in the entire film montage. In terms of acceleration and quickness, I don't think Stanford has this anywhere in the defensive backfield today, or in recent memory. TJ also has to be a prime candidate for punt returns (maybe even kickoffs) after Luke Powell is done. This kid is a burner who is screaming for playing time this fall. I'll say right now that he has to be the leading candidate for playing time as a true freshman in this class, though the depth chart on the O-line will be interesting to watch. Commissiong and Hooper both show good pass and run defense, and hard hits. They both also played as running backs, which showed off their athleticism on film. Tipton made the very curious comment that Commissiong could be a fullback. Boy is that a strange comment to make with the impending implementation of Buddy-ball. I have to imagine that Tip made this evaluation months ago, and just offered it up.
  • There has been a lot of public excitement about the staff that Buddy Teevens is assembling, with just a running backs coach remaining to round out the cast. Why there have not been official announcements yet on Tom Williams and Tom Quinn - I do not know. But Buddy clearly laid out when talking to the guests for this LOI reception how he has gone about his staff selection. The two primary criteria for individual selections and the fit together as a group are: geographic diversity and academic experience. Both are with a keen eye toward recruiting. The roots and coaching experiences of the current staff span the width of the country and up & down the West Coast. There are experiences and coverage for the Northeast, Southwest, Midwest, Texas, Mountain West and Far West. I think Alaska is about the only area not reasonably covered, when you think about it. As to academics, the combination of coaches who have either studied or coached at places like Georgia Tech, Holy Cross, Notre Dame, West Point and of course Stanford yields a breadth of empathy and understanding to relate to the Stanford players. To the recruiting point, they have experienced some levels of academic restrictions and requirements that are found at Stanford, albeit not of the same magnitude. These experiences help to also mold the sincere recruiting pitches that these coaches can make to academically able prospective student athletes - they can better speak to the value of a Stanford experience.
  • David Kelly is one such coach, who most recently comes from two hugely successful years at Georgia Tech with their wide receiver corps. Yeah, that group of receivers that tore Stanford apart in Seattle. He speaks with the thickest accent of the new staff, but as a native of Atlanta, I'm fine with that. :) He spoke of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and finding "heaven" at Stanford. He is an incredibly sincere and thoughtfully spoken man. Spiritual and personable. In hearing him talk publicly, and in discussions with him privately, I learned right away why he has a reputation as such an outstanding recruiter. Honestly, I see someone who could very easily have the same in-home demeanor that will sincerely impress parents at least equal to what Stanford had the last seven years with Tyrone Willingham. He's good. He specifically believes deeply in the development of relationships with the student-athletes and their parents. I talked with him individually about his coming to Stanford, and he described an experience when he visited the campus and met with Buddy Teevens that sounded like a recruiting experience. Had little inclination at all to accept, and had no real positive image of Stanford and California. But he was blown away by what he saw and heard. As the adage goes, if they visit, they will come.
  • Tom Williams played just before I arrived at the Farm, so this was my first chance to meet and get to know him. He publicly and privately speaks to his love for Stanford, which shone through as he choked up during his public introduction. His reception was just as warm, with the loudest ovation from all the Cardinalmaniacs present. It was a great moment. He talked of his return in a modestly analogous fashion to Michael Jordan's return to the NBA (the first time). As MJ faxed in to the NBA's league office then, TW so spoke two words to the Stanford gathering: "I'm back." He speaks as a very intelligent man, and knows the right things to say. Get excited, Booties.
  • Both Kelly and Williams are hot young coaches for good reason, but it is notable why they have made moves to Stanford. Each has received a promotion in title from their previous experiences: Kelly is now the associate head coach, and Williams is now the co-defensive coordinator. Good moves by Buddy to get two really exceptional coaches. And I clearly see two future head coaches in these men. It is also worth mentioning that both are warmly receptive toward The Bootleg.
  • In case you haven't picked up on it yet, Stanford football is already embracing a very aggressive stance toward recruiting. That means that the work on the 2003 class is already in full swing. The one standout note in this nascent recruiting year is that Reggie Bush, the elite running back from San Diego, has been already offered by Buddy Teevens.
  • Yeah, no punter in the class. It sticks out. Two comments: 1) Look for Mike Sgroi to not only rupture pigskins in the placekicking game this fall, but also to get a hard look at punting. I've already heard he has a chance to succeed where Mike Biselli had problems in 2000. 2) The primo punter on the radar was lost early to U$C in the form of Tom Malone. My original read, from discussions with his dad, were that Pete Carroll just dazzled the young man and hooked him in. The recruiting attention was overwhelming and made for an emotional decision. Well, I'm now learning that Stanford shot itself in the foot and "punted" Malone effectively in the process. The responsible man now resides in South Bend, and Booties who know recruiting territories from the past staff will probably put it together. Details need not be aired, but frustration is certainly in order.

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