Stanford Strikes Back?

Stanford has seen a few notable and important recruits wooed away by USC in the short tenure of Pete Carroll. There is no question the Trojans have dealt some unexpected blows, but a scenario is brewing that might turn the tables. A previously verbally committed and heralded athlete from USC's backyard is now saying Stanford is squarely on his mind...

Robert Lewis is frankly a recruit who has not received a peep of attention from Stanford recruitniks this spring.  The 6-5 well-built athlete from Van Nuys (California) gave a verbal commitment to USC in late May when he received a surprise offer and earnest pitch from Trojan head coach Pete Carroll.  Rob has been an intriguing athlete who has drawn a good amount of attention throughout the Pac-10, but this story appeared to be over before it started, with Pete Carroll again swooping in and dazzling a recruit early.

Since his USC commitment, Rob has picked up offers from Washington, Washington State and Cal.  But the one offer Mr. Lewis received that has turned his recruitment upside-down came in the mail from Stanford.

"I've always been really interested in Stanford.  It's a good school, and I'm looking out for my future."

When I asked Rob if he is committed at this time to USC, he would not say that he is committed to the Trojans at this time.

"I don't want to be pinned down to one school.  I want to keep my options open."

When I followed up and asked about how open he precisely wants his options right now, Rob said that he is not entertaining any other offers.  This is a USC versus Stanford thought process for him.

Since that Stanford offer came in the mail, Rob has been trying with much regularity and difficulty to get in touch with Stanford.  He has yet to actually speak with the staff, and he wants to ascertain the extent of the interest and seriousness of the offer.  Rob told me that he knows this is a period where colleges like Stanford can not call him, so he will continue to patiently try reaching the Cardinal staff.

Rob says that after he gets in touch with the Stanford staff and verifies this offer to his satisfaction, the next step he would like to take is a visit up to the Stanford campus.  He particularly noted that he'd like to attend one of Stanford's camps going on right now.

Past that, there is no telling what Rob might do next, or how he might go about this decision.  He simply called it a "tough choice."  Fundamentally, the downside to Stanford is the distance from home, while the upside is the academic advantage.

Rob was just this past week at two days of a four-day USC camp, and he told the USC staff that he is opening up his recruitment for Stanford.  Pete Carroll has countered by telling Rob that USC is "just as good as Stanford academically."  Rob says he isn't biting.

"I think Stanford is on a different plane academically."

Some of the advantages Rob says he sees at USC include the proximity to home, the football tradition and the fact that the Trojans offered him first.  He says that might indicate that they will treat him better.  Another ace in the hole for the Trojans is the promise handed to Rob by hoops coach Henry Bibby through the football staff that he can walk-on to play USC basketball.

Rob is a small forward for his Montclair Prep basketball team, and is playing a lot of hoops with high school team as well as the AAU travel circuit this summer.  He will be at the Big Time in Vegas later in July, and I will give him a look to report back on his hoops prospects.

Rob describes himself as someone who slashes and scores off the dribble, averaging better than 15 points per game his junior year.  He also said he was the 'stopper' on defense for his team, always placed on the toughest offensive player on the opposing team.

Back to football, Lewis has been recruited primarily as a linebacker for USC, though several coaches have told him that with his frame and size, he will best project as a defensive end in college.  He is viewed with equally high upside at tight end.  Stanford is likely to recruit him as both a DE and TE.  Rob says he is happy on either side of the ball, and wants to play where coaches think he will best succeed.

Hmm... a 6-5 215 small forward eye-catching athlete who can play a myriad of positions on the football field, recruited heavily by Stanford and USC.  Sound enticingly familiar?

Other than sorting out this recruiting conundrum and playing a lot of hoops, Rob is looking to hit the weights hard this summer.  He is particularly focused on increasing his upper body strength and size.  Rob is also confident that a heavy hoops schedule will keep him in great condition.

Rob Lewis says he is carrying a 3.6 GPA after completing his junior year at Montclair Prep.  He has taken a number of AP and honors courses already, and has a strong academic focus at home.  Rob took the SAT earlier this month, but does not yet have his score back.

For a nice story on Robert Lewis by Garry Paskwietz at the USC site ( at the time of his initial commitment, read on.  Greg Biggins also had some comments on Lewis as a player when he reported on the May commitment.

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