It has been four long months since Marcus Rance gave his verbal commitment to Stanford. The 6'3" Yakima (Wash.) Davis High School athlete was offered a scholarship by the Cardinal in early July, after they watched film sent by his father of workouts as a wide receiver during a couple June camps. Rance had played quarterback for Davis Pirates but projected as a safety or receiver in college. Stanford had him on their board as a wideout but were waiting until the fall to see Rance athletically assert himself in some new roles. Specifically, the Cardinal coaches wanted to see how he caught the ball.
Dave Tipton, Stanford's Northwest regional recruiter, suggested to Greg Rance the idea of shooting some summer film to accelerate the process with the Cardinal. That netted Marcus his first Pac-10 offer and led to his verbal commitment. It was a nice piece of recruiting by Tipton and Stanford, and it saved Rance from recruiting burdens during his senior year.
That, however, is where the happy story ends for Marcus Rance. A minor item of astonishment on his July Cardinal commitment is that he had never yet seen The Farm. His father knew the Stanford campus well, with his cousin Jackie Brown a graduate and two-time Rose Bowl running back. The tales of splendor and beauty were enough to allow the younger Rance to jump with both feet into a commitment. He would wait only a couple more weeks before he would take an unofficial visit with his parents and see Stanford with his own eyes. But the rising high school senior fell sick and was unable to make the trip.
The August disappointment was multiplied many-fold in September, when Rance played in his senior season opener against Walla Walla. On a designed running play, Davis' center missed his block out ahead of Rance. The Walla Walla nose guard jumped over the flailing blocker and had a clear shot on Davis' number one playmaker. Moments later, Rance was on the ground with a torn ACL and shattered senior season.
"We're lucky the nose guard wasn't too big, or he could have destroyed everything - not just Marcus' ACL," Greg Rance offers for a silver lining.
The Cardinal commit had repair surgery on September 22 in Yakima by Dr. Richard Roux, who gave the Rance family comfort not only with the countless ACL surgeries under his belt, but also with the Stanford degree hanging on the wall in his office.
"I don't think the [Stanford] coaches were too worried about my surgery, with a Stanford guy behind the knife," the younger Rance jokes.
Within a month, the receiver recruit was walking, and he has been relentless in his rehabilitation. Rance will be 100% recovered by the beginning of the spring, but the injury left him somewhat exposed. Not only did he commit in July without having seen the campus, but also he had not yet pushed through the Stanford admissions application process. Admissions is a mysterious and sometimes unpredictable beast, and Rance had no chance to play his way into another Pac-10 scholarship offer, should he fail to clear the most famous of hurdles at the Bakewell Building.
Working in his favor is Rance's rigorous course load. You will find very few football recruits at Rance's level who are taking five International Baccalaureate during their senior year - and holding down a 3.85 unweighted GPA, no less.
"I completed the application at the end of October, and I'm just waiting to hear," Rance reported to us late last week. "There's not too much of a timetable. Definitely before February - I know that! (laughs) It's a process."
To help his chances, Rance sat down to retake the SAT earlier this month. He first took the standardized test as a sophomore, scoring a solid 1120. But his busy schedule through the breadth of his junior year never afforded him the opportunity for a retake. On November 5, Rance aimed to raise his score, though he had another setback come his way.
"I retook the SAT the beginning of this month, but I got sick a couple days before. That hurt me in some of my preparation I was doing on the verbal section, so I don't how it went," he explains.
Confident that his I.B. courseload can carry the day, Rance finally made the pilgrimage to The Farm this past weekend. The Cardinal commit was not disappointed with his first experience on Stanford soil.
"Oh, my, it was beautiful. It was something!" the recruit reports. "I wanted to go there before, but now I want to be there really bad."
Rance had the chance to attend meetings with the team on Friday and then experience the Big Game on Saturday. While a weekend visit during the season ought to afford little time for a recruit to interface with players and coaches, this trip was a pleasant surprise.
"Coach [Walt] Harris - he was so amazing. Even with a big game, he took the time to sit down with me for a while," Rance reports. "You don't expect the coaches and players to take the time to welcome you, but they made sure to welcome me to the family. That's what Stanford is - one big family."
More than just smiles and handshakes, Harris had an important message he delivered to the Yakima athlete.
"He said don't plan on coming in here and redshirting," Greg Rance recalls.
"Even before the Walk, Coach Harris took the time to come out and talk to the recruits," the son says. "He kept letting us know that we need to be ready to play - even next year. There are a lot of guys hurt, and others are graduating - especially at my position."
While both father and son relished the recruiting activities, an additional highlight for Greg Rance was meeting Keith Jackson, who broadcast the 108th Big Game for ABC.
"He's an old Washington State guy, you know," Greg comments. "He asked Marcus, 'What about the Cougars? You didn't like the Cougars enough?' We told him that Stanford got there a little sooner."
"We are really blessed for Marcus to be going to Stanford," the father adds. "I just loved the Walk. They have a lot of support down there. Stanford wasn't able to win the game, but I liked the first half. They were just too beat up to hang after halftime. You can tell that Stanford is just a few recruits away from something special, with what Coach Harris is doing."
All the excitement for the Rance family had to be tempered slightly by Marcus' open admissions application status through the weekend. But the November 5 SAT score became available on Monday, revealing a 40-point boost and raising his score to a composite 1160. Tuesday night, Greg Rance called The Bootleg to report that his son had been accepted to attend Stanford.
"We just could not be more excited. Marcus is now officially headed to Stanford," the proud papa exclaimed.
There are a few extra reasons to be thankful in the Rance household today, after a bountiful week. Their fall may have started off on the wrong foot, but it is All Right Now in Yakima today.
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