In the numerous recruiting reports you read this time of year, there are countless chronicles of athletes aiming for lofty statistical goals and state championships in their approaching senior season. But for Marcus Rance of Yakima (Wash.), there is a more modest outlook. He endured a difficult season in 2004, without any team success (0-10) and a great deal of personal challenge. When he looks ahead to this fall, the 6'3" 195-pound quarterback at A.C. Davis High School simply wants to stay healthy to give his team a chance.
"The main thing for me to build off is injury-free camps this year," he says. "Last year my ankle was hurt in camp and that nagged me throughout the year. The problem at first wasn't my ankle as much as what it did to my conditioning. We would hang tough with a team through halftime, and then in the third quarter I would get cramps."
"By the fifth or sixth game, I started to get back to my top condition, and then in the seventh game my ankle started nagging me again. By the eighth game, I couldn't even walk and they wouldn't let me play," Rance details.
Despite the individual and team difficulty in that junior season, the Yakima athlete passed and ran for 700 yards each at the helm of the Pirates offense. His athletic feats on the field earned the quarterback Second Team All-Big 9 honors at running back as well as Second Team All-Big 9 defensive back recognition.
"This is the main month for me," Rance maintains. "My sophomore year, July was when I worked really hard and worked up my stamina. I was a 1000-yard rusher and passer that year. Last year, I didn't have the chance in July, and that hurt me."
Another less successful element of his junior year that was the variety and confusion of his roles within the offense. He was primarily the Pirates' quarterback, but at any given time he was asked to move to wide receiver or running back for a given play. For his senior season in 2005, Rance is being told he will line up exclusively at quarterback in a new offense.
"They are planning on doing more of a West Coast offense," he reveals. "It's like at Texas, and I'll be used like a Vince Young - except at a high school level. My passing is stronger now, and I know I'm going into my senior year stronger and faster than ever before."
It is a good bet that Rance will have a better year in 2005 than 2004 at quarterback, and he is determined to bring some victories home for A.C. Davis this fall. But college recruiters who have him penciled in at numerous positions other than quarterback will have to make do once again with watching him focus under center.
Stanford, for example, has had their eye on Rance as a wide receiver. But without a chance to see him at any camp or combine as a wideout this off-season, the Cardinal coaches had their hands tied evaluating the Yakima athlete fully. Stanford defensive line coach and northwest regional recruiter Dave Tipton told Rance that they needed film of him catching a ball, so the recruit's father responded.
"At the Central camp, my dad went up to the tower and recorded me in one-on-one and receiver drills," Rance reveals. He adds with a laugh, "It was too bad actually, though, because there were some game situations he missed taping. I had five or six really nice balls but he didn't tape them. That's OK, though, because they must of liked what they were able to see."
The initiative and subsequent film from Greg Rance netted his son a scholarship offer from Stanford on Friday. That same day, the Stanford admissions application arrived in the family's mailbox. Marcus Rance is a 3.85 student at A.C. Davis with a load of International Baccalaureate courses. He took the SAT last as a sophomore and scored an 1120.
"I wanted to retake the test my junior year, with all my classmates telling me about their 1200, 1300 and 1400 scores," Rance admits. "But there was always a conflict with football or track. I'd like to take it again in the fall, though I don't know for sure if I'll need that before I can get admitted to Stanford. Coach Tipton says he feels good about my score and grades, but the average SAT on the football team is higher, so it might help my chances to get it higher. We'll see."
There has been strong mutual interest between Rance and the Cardinal for some time, though this offer certainly takes the relationship to a new plateau. The next order of business, in addition to the admissions application, is getting the 6'3" recruit and his family down to The Farm.
"We'll try to make it down there during July. Hopefully my mom can get off work," Rance details. "If that doesn't work, then I'll definitely take an official visit - maybe in early September."
While he has yet to see the Cardinal campus, Rance in just the last two weeks has been to both Pullman and Seattle to see the respective homes of the Cougars and Huskies, while he camped at their schools. Bill Doba told him June 23 that he would "probably offer fairly soon after" the Washington State camp.
"Washington said they wanted to watch my senior season," Rance reports after his one-day camp in Seattle on June 27.
"I always have something to prove and someone to show," he matter-of-factly comments. "I just have to get out on the field and compete and show them what I'm capable of doing. Especially the Washington's and Washington State's. They have kind of tip-toed around. They've recruited me, but haven't offered like Stanford. Though my coach, Andy Bush, is a Washington State alum, and I bet he'll have something to say to them about that now that Stanford has offered me."
Though Rance's recruitment has not thus far been covered with great scrutiny, it has been documented that he leans toward the programs in the Pacific Northwest. Stanford, however, is his only Pac-10 offer to date. Rance holds offers from Idaho and Eastern Washington, but the Cardinal with their new offer have a leg up (for now) on the likes of Oregon, Washington and Washington State.
"I've always been a hometown kid, but it's tough to pass up on an opportunity like Stanford," he muses. "It's tough to say how to stack up Stanford against the Washington schools, though, because I've only had the chance to see the Washington schools. I have never seen Stanford. But based on what I've heard from my cousin and some alums, the campus sounds really nice. I can't wait to see it."
That cousin is actually Rance's second cousin, and another connection for the Cardinal. Rose Bowl running back Jackie Brown, who played with Dave Tipton and scored touchdowns in both the '71 and '72 Rose Bowls, is the fortuitous link for Stanford.
"It's really early right now, but Stanford has the upper hand," sums up Rance.
That is enough to pique our attention, and Marcus Rance is certainly one of the more compelling athletes and stories for us to follow in this 2006 recruiting class. His recruitment has been hindered by his position, injuries and dismal team record, but that may soon fade now that his first Pac-10 offer has hit. We will stay on this story and keep you abreast of the latest from this exciting 6'3" wide receiver recruit.
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