Stanford was able to sit comfortably on its defensive backfield in recent years with a lineup of three-year starters in the stables. But the time has come for rearmament on The Farm, following last spring's graduation of Oshiomogho Atogwe, Stanley Wilson and Leigh Torrence - all three now in the NFL. This coming spring will bring the exit of T.J. Rushing, depleting the Cardinal of their third all-star cornerback in 12 months. Stanford's top three safeties will play their final fall season in 2006, but that is another story for another time. Right now, Walt Harris and his defensive coordinator Tom Hayes are bent on reloading some serious cornerback talent.
Cardinal fans can peruse the cornerback prospects list and wonder where the offers are to be found in this all-important effort. Only in recent days were we able to track down Oklahoma City (Okla.) Putnam City High School two-way athlete Bryan McCann, who has gone uncovered despite holding a Stanford offer for several months.
"I have offers from UAB, SMU, Northwestern and Stanford," McCann reveals. "Stanford offered toward the end of my junior year. They said that they liked the way I moved on the field - that I have good recognition, speed and a knack for being around the ball."
The 5'11" 175-pound performer is a demonstrated talent on the football field for both offense and defense. Last year he started as free safety and cornerback on the Pirates' defense, recording 44 tackles, three interceptions and one sack. McCann was a starting wide receiver on offense, with some snaps at running back mixed in, tallying 449 total yards on 28 touches with six touchdowns. On special teams he was a threat on both punt and kickoff returns, including one kick returned for a touchdown. He also blocked five field goals, on the heels of two he blocked as a sophomore.
McCann was named MVP of his team in 2004, though just a junior. The Pirates were 9-3 and advanced as far as the Class 6A state quarterfinals before losing to eventual champions Tulsa Union. This year Putnam City feels they can advance further, though they were slotted outside the preseason Top 10 in the state. The Pirates already pounded Putnam City West in their season opener, 28-6, though much of the next two months will be a prelude to their final two games of the regular season. Then they will face Sam Bradford and #2-ranked Putnam City North, as well as Laron Moore and #14-ranked Midwest City.
Though recognized as the best player on a strong football team, perhaps more eye-catching is McCann's exploits on the track. As a junior he ran a PR in the 100m dash of 10.33, while a few other times running in the 10.4's. That 10.33 was the third best time run last year in the state of Oklahoma, though McCann did not have his best stuff in the finals of the state championships, placing fifth. Nevertheless, this man has wheels.
"I have other skills, but I think my speed is pretty important," he offers.
While that type of speed in a 5'11" frame will make most fans think offense for McCann (he notched five receptions for 82 yards and two scores in last Friday's opener), this athlete has his eyes on playing defense in college.
"There is more emotion playing defense," McCann explains. "If you make a mistake but are going hard, you can still be in the play. On offense, there is more structure every down. On defense, you can play more on instinct and athleticism."
Already a strong athlete, McCann believes his play in the defensive backfield is elevated this year on the back of experience and understanding. "I watch film and notice a lot more," he notes. "I can spot tendencies better and have a better scout of what to do on a down and distance. I'm also more comfortable making the calls for our defense, changing coverages when I see certain things."
One reason there has been a low recruiting profile for Bryan McCann is his absence on the combine circuit this past spring. He only attended two camps during the summer, as well, at Oklahoma State and SMU. The Putnam City standout recorded a 4.43 in the 40 at the latter camp.
Though the in-state Cowboys and Sooners cannot escape his mind, McCann calls three programs outside the Oklahoma borders his current favorites.
"My top three are Northwestern, SMU and Stanford," he declares. "I'm looking for more of an academic school, where coming out with a degree means something."
Dallas is not a far drive from home, and Chicago is found in the same time zone. Among his trio of favorites, Stanford is certainly the most distant. That has burned the Cardinal before in recruiting the Sooner State. Could that be a factor again here?
"My parents aren't giving any pressure on distance," McCann replies. "This will be my decision, totally. It will be weird not having my parents see me play every week, but I think that's a reality of going off to school anyway."
"I don't want to go anywhere where I feel comfortable just for football reasons," he adds. "The overall environment will be important for me. I also want to play for a team of winners - a team that is really competitive."
As evidence that McCann is giving the Cardinal a hard look, he says that he has already filled out the personal information portion of the Stanford admissions application. He is currently writing his essays and is gathering teacher recommendations, with an estimated completion of the entire application by October 1. McCann carries a 3.75 weighted GPA (3.30 unweighted) and scored a 25 last October on the ACT.
"Stanford has a new coach. They're rebuilding. It's a fresh start for the program," he offers on the attraction of The Farm. "They're not in the middle of anything, so the coaches are likely to be there for a while. They of course have great academics, and the Pac-10 has good football. I would get to go against a lot of great players out there. The Pac-10 has some great passing teams."
While McCann is still open to schools who could offer him this fall, upon watching his senior year exploits, his early focus on three academic schools might suggest the sunset stages of his recruitment. To the contrary, he is cautiously and carefully approaching this weighty decision.
"I'm going to take my time. I'm in no rush. I have no deadline," he professes. "This is a big decision for my life, and I want to make sure I make the right decision."
With the Pirates likely to push into the latter part of 2005 with another playoff run, you can expect this recruitment to extend past the New Year. Indeed, McCann tells us that his first scheduled official visit will bring him to Stanford on January 13. Beyond his admissions status, that means there could be little movement in Bryan McCann's recruiting story for the next few months, but we will keep tabs on the cornerback offer recruit and bring you his latest as it develops.
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