Without question, the biggest story and focus in this 2006 Stanford Football recruiting class is the quarterback search. No disrespect is intended at all toward Tavita Pritchard, who enters this fall as the next signal caller for the Cardinal. But as has been often repeated the last several months, Stanford has pulled in just one scholarship quarterback in the last two years and only two in the last three. That is not just a dip below the norm - it is a dangerous dance on the wrong end of the distribution curve.
Compounded by the need for a quarterback in this class is the intrigue of Stanford's new head coach. This is the first full year for Walt Harris on The Farm, and the renowned quarterbacks guru has a lofty (and stingy) reputation when it comes to evaluating his signal callers. Harris has gone nearly five months since Signing Day without extending an offer to a recruit in his quarterback board. You won't find that anywhere else in the Pac-10 (save UCLA, who reportedly doesn't care to take a QB this year).
That changed a few days ago, however, when Deerfield (Ill.) High School slinger Alex Loukas came to The Farm for their overnight camp. The 6'4" 195-pound athlete came in admittedly a little off his game, having just completed his competitive tennis season. But Loukas served up an ace with his performance at Stanford's camp, earning him an eyebrow-raising reward.
"I was there Friday night and the Saturday morning session," the Illinois athlete accounts. "They offered me a scholarship Saturday afternoon. I talked with Coach Harris and Coach [Tucker] Waugh, with my parents, afterward. I didn't expect to get an offer this weekend, but it was one of my goals. I'm pretty excited. My parents and sister are really happy about the offer, too."
Loukas has also camped at Northwestern, Purdue, Michigan and Iowa this summer. The first two were his most recent stops before The Farm, and both produced scholarship offers. The Hawkeyes and Wolverines are still up in the air on the Deerfield High School standout. Loukas also carries offers from Iowa State and a spate of mid-majors like Miami (Ohio), Ball State, Akron, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan.
He has size, a live arm and athletic ability. Loukas is also making improvements this off-season to retool his game.
"I know I want to become a lot faster," he begins. "I'm trying to get faster, stronger and bigger. I'm at 195 now, but I have a lot of room to grow. I also want to get more vocal during games. My drops and accuracy can both still be improved a lot."
During his time with Harris at Stanford this past weekend, Loukas got a head start on one area of his mechanics.
"Coach Harris wanted me to keep my front foot closed. I don't know if you can imagine it, but my front foot on my throw was too open, which meant I wasn't using my hips enough," Loukas relates of the teaching from Stanford's head coach. "It's like a boxer. If you leave your stance too open, you can't get enough behind you and throw a hard enough punch. With my foot more closed now, I can get more velocity and throw more accurately."
"I can really feel the difference," he adds. "I still have to work on it, but it's going to help me."
Loukas is coming off a junior season at Deerfield where he threw for 1600 yards and 16 touchdowns, on 49.5% passing (109-of-220). He also ran for 530 yards and another six scores on the ground.
"I consider myself a drop-back passer, but I can hurt defenses with my feet when I have to. We have designed runs, but also plays where I can tuck the ball back in on an option read and run," he comments. "I can throw well, and I'm pretty fast. Personally, I think it's hard for a defense to read what I do."
Not only does he have the arm, mobility, mechanics and a high football IQ which makes him coachable, but also Loukas holds down a 3.4 GPA at Deerfield and has scored a 27 on the ACT - making him a solid admissions candidate for the Cardinal.
"I want to commit before my season starts, if I can," Loukas lets us know of his decision timeframe. "Academics will be a big factor for me - probably number one. I'm looking at playing time, too - who is there in front of me. Also the business schools, I've researched that. It all comes down to what is best for me. It's ultimately a gut feel."
"Stanford is one of my top three or four schools who have offered me," he continues. "Just going around the campus, it was amazing. The church, Palm Drive - everything. The weather was terrific, too. They are also getting a new stadium when I would be a freshman, which is cool."
Alex Loukas might pull in more scholarship offers this summer, but the Cardinal are now in one of the leadership positions for a recruitment that could end sooner rather than later. The next event to watch will be his admissions application, and we will keep in touch with the Illinois quarterback for all his latest. Stay tuned.
Note: if you did not see his ScoutTV junior highlight video published here in the spring, you might want to do so now. Click here for Alex Loukas' Scout profile page.
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