We knew that August was going to be an eventful month for the recruitment of Marcus Rance. The 6'3" quarterback at A.C. Davis High School in Yakima (Wash.) was set to take momentous unofficial visits to two of his top schools. On August 6, the athlete recruit was slated to attend a "Junior Day" at Washington. Sometime between August 10 and 13, Rance was ready to follow with another unofficial trip, this time with his mother and father to see Stanford.
"It's pretty much Stanford right now," said the recruit's father, Greg Rance, Friday afternoon. "It's hard to beat the education. My cousin, Jackie Brown, went there and so I know how strong their academics are."
"We want Marcus to go see Stanford before his season so he has a chance to see the campus and mingle with the people," the elder Rance adds. "I've been there before and I've told Marcus that it's beautiful. It would be good for him to see it for himself before he makes a decision, though."
The plan for the Davis High School senior was to make these trips and thus arm himself to make his college decision before the September 2 start of his final football season. That plan apparently accelerated late Friday evening, culminating in a phone call from the Rance household to the lead Cardinal coach in his recruitment. Soon thereafter, Greg Rance called The Bootleg to share the news of his son's Stanford pledge.
"Marcus and I got to talking, and Marcus told me this evening that he just wanted to get it done," the father explains. "We just in the last hour talked with Dave Tipton and gave our commitment to Stanford."
Early in this recruiting story, it was clear that Marcus Rance preferred to stay close to home for college. He said as much in the spring and into June. But on July 2 that all changed with a scholarship offer from Stanford.
The Cardinal may have been geographically disadvantaged in the evaluation and recruitment of Rance, but their wile won this battle. Available junior film showed the athleticism of the Yakima quarterback, but the Cardinal had an inkling that he could be an impact wide receiver. Tipton told the Rance family as much and suggested that summer film of some work as a wideout could accelerate the Cardinal's recruitment and offer process. Greg Rance was responsive and shot his own footage of his son taking some repetitions as a receiver in June camp environments. Soon after receiving that film on The Farm, Tipton happily extended an offer from Stanford.
A follow-up conversation with head coach Walt Harris pushed the Rance family closer still to a Cardinal commitment.
"I really liked what he had to say," the father comments. "He said that Stanford was not a four-year decision, but a 40-year decision. The education there lifts you the rest of your life."
Greg Rance has Stanford blood in his family, with cousin Jackie Brown a running back carrying two Rose Bowl rings from the 1970 and 1971 seasons on The Farm. Reports of the power of the Stanford degree were short of earth-shattering. But the articulation of how Harris would use the younger Rance was exciting.
"He wants to spread the field with his wide receivers," Greg Rance reports. "And use Marcus like Larry Fitzgerald - a big athlete who can go get the ball."
College coaches who have watched Marcus Rance on the football field have been easily convinced of his athleticism, but there was an open debate as to where to play him. One factor that has weighed strongly in Stanford's favor the last several weeks has been the alignment between the Cardinal's vision and the family's vision.
"As his dad, I knew all along that Marcus was a wide receiver," Greg Rance remarks. "He's a natural athlete. He's rangy - a 6'3" body but the arm length of somebody 6'5". You watch him play basketball, and any jump ball, he comes down with it."
Rance's father remembers when he was first convinced of his son's burgeoning pass-catching abilities. The son was just 13 or 14 years old when his father ran him through a trampoline drill. The object was to catch passes thrown his way while continually bouncing on the trampoline. If the son could manage to catch 10 balls in a row, the father would peel off a $10 bill and hand it to him.
Greg did not expect that Marcus would so quickly haul in the number of balls he did. Already at nine, the son was poised to make the fastest Alexander Hamilton of his young life.
"I wanted to overthrow him on that 10th ball so we could start back over again," the father relates. "By gosh, he went up and grabbed the ball by his fingertips and pulled it down. I was intentionally trying to throw it way over his head where he had no chance. I knew right then and there he was a player."
As proud as Greg Rance so obviously is when telling the tales of his son's exploits, the volume climbs several decibels when talk turns to the classroom.
"Marcus is a 3.85 student, and those are all [International] Baccalaureate courses. He has honors chemistry, honors English - nothing but honors," the proud papa proclaims. "He scored an 1120 as a sophomore on the SAT, and Coach Tipton thinks Marcus could get into Stanford but could be safe and take the test again in the fall just to land a better score."
"He'll fit right in at Stanford," the father continues. "But right now, he's going to be a good role model for the kids who watch him here. Marcus is here to let them know that it's okay to be a student as well as an athlete. He's a Division I athlete and a Division I student."
The question of where Marcus Rance will conduct himself as a college student-athlete has now been settled, undoubtedly to the dismay of the Huskies. There was chatter that Tyrone Willingham could offer the Yakima athlete on the Huskies' campus next weekend, but with this Cardinal commitment, Rance will no longer travel across the state for the August 6 recruiting event.
Scout.com ranks Rance as the #24 overall player in the Northwest region in the 2006 class, projected as a safety. Stanford has him slotted as a wide receiver for this class, which is a position of big need. The Cardinal signed no wideouts in the 2005 class, and their lone signee at the position in the 2004 crop has been moved to running back. Going back three years to the 2003 haul, Stanford signed four receivers, but one was moved to cornerback, one took a professional baseball contract, and the other two burned their redshirts as freshmen - effectively moving them ahead to the 2002 class. Marcus Rance is a very big catch for the Cardinal today, in both ability and need.
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