One of the bigger recruits, both in stature and importance, we saw at Stanford spring practices this past month was Michael Reardon. The 6'6" 253-pound defensive end from Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High School has the size enticing some schools to look at him as an offensive tackle or tight end, but he has the quickness and athleticism that makes him a defensive playmaker. Reardon was a full-time starter on defense as a junior, and played a scant 20 plays over the course of the season in specialty offensive formations.
"My strength is coming off the edge, and the fact that I play aggressive," he explains. "I make plays as a pass rusher. I'm pretty quick, but I'm not quicker than everybody. Sometimes I just have to put a little rip move on a guy to beat him."
"Some schools haven't even seen me play offense, but they like me because of my footwork and my size," Reardon adds.
He tallied nine sacks, 80 tackles, 15 quarterback pressures and four pass deflections as a junior, but the number that has most people talking about Reardon today is his 10 scholarship offers. The 6'6" athlete has an abundance of options and a bright future ahead of him in football, though only recently did his heart gravitate to the gridiron. Reardon is a standout on the hardcourt, and in his most recently concluded junior season of basketball he averaged 16.5 points and 10 rebounds for the Lancers.
"Basketball has always been a passion for me," he explains. "That changed this year. I had always thought of myself as a basketball player and would play basketball in college, but this year I found a passion for football and can see that football is my future. I'm one of the leaders on the [football] team, and that has had an effect on me. And I like walking out of the tunnel. I like seeing 5,000 people there to watch the game."
Stanford offered Reardon last month when he visited The Farm unofficially and took in a spring practice, and that puts the Cardinal in the mix with other offers from Ole Miss, Arizona, Colorado State, Oregon State, Washington State, Nebraska, Duke, Boston College and Missouri. Quite satisfied with his offer list, the Lutheran two-sport standout does count one additional school among his favorites.
"USC is one that hopefully will offer," Reardon allows.
"I'm just going to enjoy the whole process. I'm not in a hurry to commitment to somebody," he says of his recruiting horizon. "Not right now, but at some point I'm going to narrow down to five schools where I want to take my official visits. If there is another school I want to see, then I'll take an unofficial visit."
In a world where so many recruits seem hurried to make their college decision before or during the summer, Reardon is intent on taking his official visits. Those trips sometimes spill over into the winter, after the fall season concludes, but Reardon says that Lutheran will play a handful of Thursday games in 2006 that would allow him to take official visits over the weekend.
"I am definitely going to take an official visit to Stanford in the fall," he declares. "If USC offers, I'd definitely take a visit there, too. The others, I'm not 100% on yet."
"I've really grown to like Stanford," Reardon explains. "There are not a whole lot of people there. I knew that they had a big campus. It's a big place. But to go there and find out there are only like 12,000 people on campus was surprising. Nate Nelson told me that there is like a 1-to-6 professor-to-student ratio, which I really like. I want to go to a place with great academics, and where I fit in. I also want to get along with my position coach, and I met Dave Tipton, who coaches their defensive ends. I really liked him. He has 16 years of coaching experience there. I liked the campus. It's just got a lot of what I'm looking for."
Today, the Cardinal and Trojans are on top for Reardon, with the former having offered and the latter still making an evaluation. The Orange County recruit has no combine plans this spring but will attend USC's lineman camp on June 11 to show them that he is worthy of an offer. Like so many recruiting battles through the years, this one could come down to Stanford vs. USC. One factor that could come into play is a teammate of Reardon's who just made headlines this week with a verbal pledge to the hometown school.
"Aaron [Corp] just committed [Tuesday] night," Reardon says. "If I go to a Pac-10 school, I get to hit him. If I go to USC, then we get to play together. Either way will be fun."
If the Trojans do come through with an offer, which way would the defensive end recruit find himself leaning?
"Probably Stanford," Reardon maintains. "I don't just say that because I don't know yet what a USC offer feels like. There is something with Stanford that just seemed to click for me. I still have some questions about SC I need to get answered."
One question outstanding for the Cardinal is Reardon's admissions application. He says that Nelson, Stanford's recruiting coordinator, was at Lutheran High School on Tuesday to talk with his guidance counselor. Reardon holds down a weighted 3.9 cumulative GPA today with honors classes and is clear on the work ahead toward a Stanford admission.
"They tell me to 'keep challenging yourself.' Don't slack off senior year and get senioritis," the recruit relates.
Reardon scored a 1510 on his first attempt of the SAT, taking April 1. He gives a breakdown of 510 math, 510 writing and 490 reading.
"I got that score and started studying right away," he says. "I'm taking it again this Saturday, and also in June."
If there is any question about Michael Reardon's sincerity toward Stanford, taking the SAT three times in three months the spring of his junior year is evidence enough. Though Reardon will be a rarity among the Golden State's top recruits by attending neither the Los Angeles Scout.com Combine this weekend nor the Stanford Nike Camp next weekend, his is a story we will follow closely in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned.
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