'07 Unwrapped: Chris Izbicki

Stanford took tight end recruiting as a luxury in its small 2006 recruiting class, but an early offer to Chris Izbicki of Kirkland (Wash.) Lake Washington High School is one sign of the Cardinal's commitment to shoring up that position in 2007 recruiting. Izbicki already owns offers from half the Pac-10 and has more suitors knocking on his door. The Cardinal recently hosted him on an unofficial visit and climbed quickly his leaderboard...

With former Stanford head coach Tyrone Willingham back in the Pac-10, we have to expect some heated recruiting battles between the Cardinal and his newest team: the Washington Huskies.  One big battle brewing in the Evergreen State puts Kirkland (Wash.) Lake Washington High School two-way standout Chris Izbicki in the crosshairs of the two rivals.  Already the owner of five offers (Stanford, Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State), the 6'4" 240-pound tight end and linebacker is a hot recruit with a bright future.

"He's a Top Five prospect in the state and will have his pick of schools to choose from," says Chris Fetters, Scout.com's Northwest recruiting analyst.  "He's got great hands and has a little bit of a nasty streak in him, which is always a big plus as far as D-I coaches are concerned."

Izbicki caught 25 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns as a junior, while also recording 58 total tackles (31 solo) and two sacks.  All of his offers are for tight end, though Oregon State has told him they are recruiting him as an "athlete" who could play tight end or defensive end in Corvallis.

"At tight end I can pass, catch and block," Izbicki explains.  "I am really good at blocking, but I can also catch the ball.  We run a West Coast offense that moves me all around - tight, split out, H-back and in motion.  On defense, I played outside linebacker last year but will play inside linebacker this year.  I get off the ball really well and shed blockers."

"I think I'm stronger at tight end than defense," he muses.  "Just my size and speed.  I block really well, but I'm also a receiving tight end."

Though already the recipient of blanket offers in the Northwest and one of the top players in the state of Washington, Izbicki is working for a more dominant senior season while also looking to impress some additional suitors.

"For defense, I'm trying to stay on my feet some more and not drop to my knees as much.  On offense, I'm working on my speed and getting stronger," the recruits details.  "I ran a 4.7 before my junior year; I haven't been timed yet this year.  By the time this season rolls around, I'm going to be ready to play at the next level, but I'll still be playing against high school players."

Notre Dame liked Izbicki's highlight video they watched online and requested two game tapes from his junior season.  USC has a close eye on the Lake Washington athlete, with assistant coach Rocky Seto scheduled to visit his school today to make an in-person evaluation.

"I'm still pretty open.  It's hard to name a top two or three," Izbicki protests, but proceeds to name his two favorites.  "I liked Stanford a lot when I went there, and I like Washington."

"I definitely grew up a Husky fan.  I live 15 minutes from the stadium," he explains.  "I like them a lot, but I don't know if I would commit.  I want to wait and see if I am admitted to Stanford first, before I commit anywhere."

Izbicki attended a Washington practice last Monday and appeared again on Saturday for the Huskies' spring game.  His visit to The Farm on April 7, however, made a big impact on his recruiting outlook.

"I liked Stanford a lot.  I'm studying a lot more for the SAT now.  I'm taking it the first week of May, and I'm also trying to apply and get admitted," says the 3.6 student who reports "mostly AP classes" at Lake Washington.

"The coaches were all nice, and they definitely knew what they were talking about," Izbicki says of his Stanford visit.  "The campus was just amazing.  I also found out all about the academics.  The career opportunities you have available after you graduate are really impressive."

The unofficial visits Izbicki is taking are no accident.  He says that he plans on making his college commitment before the start of his senior season.  In addition to the trips to Stanford and Washington, he has also toured Washington State, California and Oregon.  The Ducks will have another chance to host him, however, given that his experience in Eugene came last December when Izbicki checked out a Ducks' practice before the Holiday Bowl.  Recruiting has taken on a different meaning the last few months, which is why he will see Oregon and Oregon State on an upcoming trip.

Should Notre Dame and/or USC join the Izbicki offer sweepstakes, more travel would be in order.

"It would make it more confusing," he says of the prospect of an Irish or Trojans offer.  "I would need to take a trip and see what it's like."

For now, the Huskies and Cardinal are neck and neck in the race for the tight end standout.  He has explored both campuses and coaching staffs but cannot project the winner at this time.

"Part of it will be about my family and how they feel.  It would be a tough decision," Izbicki admits.  "Stanford didn't sign any tight ends in 2006.  Neither did Washington, which is a big plus for both schools."

Stay tuned for more on this hotly contested recruitment in the coming weeks, as Izbicki works toward a Stanford admission and a summer recruiting decision.

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