A man in high demand of late is Memphis (Tenn.) University School senior John Stokes. The 6'5" 220-pound linebacker has a hot offer sheet and coaches from across the nation courting him, while a horde of media constantly ring his phone in feverish pursuit of his latest recruiting news. The Bootleg, too, has been anxious to speak with Stokes, for the report on his second unofficial visit to The Farm of 2006, which he took in late May. When we finally connected with him recently, though, we were first given the news that he had just completed and mailed his Stanford admissions application.
"It was a full application," he laughs. "There were mainly four essays to write, plus some little stuff. I got the recommendations from my teachers and talked with my counselor for some advice."
"The essays are the most daunting part," Stokes continues. "But I think I wrote some good essays. I feel good about the job that I did. I concentrated on the questions and tried to write thorough responses and well-thought out responses."
From all the recruits across the country with which we have talked, we believe that Stokes is the first in the Class of 2007 to complete and submit his application. We also have to believe him to possess the most impressive academic numbers toward admission of any high-level football recruit in the country this year. His 4.62 weighted grade point average at MUS, where he took three AP courses (European history, English, Latin IV), is impressive enough. His 29 ACT score is more than solid.
But on the SAT, Stokes scraped the sky. He registered a perfect 800 on the math section, followed by a 700 on the new writing/essay section and a 730 on the reading section. That totals a 2230 on the new 2400-point scale. If your head has not yet calibrated to the new scale, then take his math and reading scores to equate to the old 1600-point SAT, where Stokes sits on an astounding 1530.
While those mind-numbing numbers sink in, we return you to our regularly scheduled programming, whereby John Stokes takes us on a tour of his most recent unofficial visit to Stanford with his parents:
"Sunday we were on our own. The NCAA Tennis Championship was going on. We watched some of that. I think it was maybe Georgia versus UCLA. We got dinner in downtown Palo Alto at, I think, the University Cafe. We went to church at Grace Presbyterian Church and met with David Jones, a teacher of the RUF - the Reformed University Fellowship - at Stanford."
"We kind of gave my mom the brief tour. We drove and walked around campus here and there. She hadn't seen it before. She really liked it a lot and was impressed - like me and my dad. It's not exactly what you expect, but we all like the campus and think it's a beautiful place. The architecture is beautiful. Everybody is on bikes. We enjoyed it."
"On Monday, we started out and met with Coach [Matt] Weiss and Anthony Gabriel. We went to breakfast on campus in the athletic building at Jimmy V's Sports Cafe."
"Then we met with the freshman academic dean, with my parents. We talked about the [admissions] application and about life on campus. We asked questions about problems people might have - roommates, people having problems moving far from home. She was impressive with her answers, and you can tell she does a great job with the freshmen."
"Then I met up with a couple players - Erik Lorig and Clinton Snyder - and we went to an economics class. I think it was macroeconomics. I sat in on the class. The professor lectured, and it didn't seem to hard. It wasn't too bad. I could follow along, even though I jumped in the middle of the course. I enjoyed it and was impressed with the professor. I hadn't been in any college class anywhere before, so I didn't know what to expect. He was very thorough and answered a lot of questions."
"Then I met with Coach Weiss and Tom McAndrew and James McGillicuddy and ate lunch at the main student gathering [Tressider Student Union] - I got Subway. I really enjoyed that. We got to talk a lot. I couldn't totally get to know them, but I got a feel of what those guys are like, and what the players on the team are like. That was one of the things I was looking forward to doing with this trip - see if I could fit in and be part of the community. I felt good talking with Tom and McGillicuddy. That may have been my favorite part of the weekend."
"Afterward, we checked out a dorm, then went over to the locker room. They guys had a workout, did some seven-on-seven and worked out with the strength coach."
"It was a full day on campus, but I got to see and learn a lot about the campus and the school."
There were two things Stokes wanted to primarily accomplish with this visit. The first was to bring his mother along; only his father accompanied him the previous trip in March. The second goal was to see the other side of Stanford, during a school day with the experiences of a student - not guided each step of the way by a coach. Stokes experienced the coaching-assisted tours, talks and sights before. This time he deliberately visited on a weekday during the evaluation period, when the coaches would be spread across the country and he could hang out with Stanford student-athletes.
As you can read, it appears to have been a vastly positive experience. The very fact that it was Stokes' second stay out West is also telling. The work he put into the admissions application is a third sign of optimism. What does he have to say on the Cardinal and their position at this time?
"I like Stanford a lot," Stokes says. "I'm interested in being there. I'm still kind of checking out other places. The other thing is that I haven't been accepted yet. The coaches feel I have a good chance of getting admitted, with my scores and numbers, but it's hard to think about it as a serious thing until I've been accepted into the school."
"I've been impressed with a lot of things about Stanford - the football program, the people on campus and the campus itself," he adds. "I still have some visits coming up. It's hard to say who is on top or what I will do until I've seen all the schools."
In addition to his two trips way out West, Stokes has recently been to Vanderbilt, Memphis and Ole Miss. He was in Nashville for a basketball event and stopped to talk with the football coaches. He attended, though did not work out at, a camp at Memphis - also speaking with the coaches. His school participated at a seven-on-seven passing camp at Ole Miss, after which he met with Ed Orgeron in his office and was offered by the Rebels.
Up next? A swing to see Wake Forest and Tennessee this weekend, with the possibility of seeing Vanderbilt on the way home. The following weekend he will travel with his team to a select seven-on-seven tournament at Hoover (Ala.) High School; Stokes hopes to hit the Auburn campus either coming or going.
When we last wrote about John Stokes, he held seven offers but since added two new schools to that list. In addition to Ole Miss, he also received a scholarship offer from Michigan. Unfortunately for both him and the Wolverines, that offer came late enough that he is pessimistic on his chances for an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor as part of his July plans.
"I would really like to see Michigan, but I'm not going to be able to get up there this summer," Stokes states. "Maybe I'll get up there for a game during their season, but things are going to get busy once I start playing myself."
The one school mentioned as part of Stokes' summer visit plans who has not yet extended a scholarship offer is in-state Tennessee Volunteers.
"I've talked to them several times," the recruit relates. "They have a limited number of offers this year. They have wanted me to come up there for a long time, and I haven't been able to get there. Their camp was the same weekend as the one at Memphis."
The remainder of this month will obviously be a busy one for Stokes, as he visits a number of the schools on his list. We can expect an admissions answer soon, given the care he put into his application and the potency of his test score and transcript. However, do not look for an admissions acceptance to necessarily prompt a commitment from this recruit. He is far from naming the Cardinal as his leader, and more importantly, he is cautious toward his recruitment while he still has schools to see.
"I would probably consider, number one, narrowing it down by my senior season - maybe to three or five schools - definitely by then," Stokes says. "As for committing, I don't know. It would be nice to be done before my senior season, and I will think about it. Maybe I won't be able to get to Michigan this summer, though. It's a big step, and I don't know when I will be ready to take that."
As John Stokes takes his steps, we will try to keep you abreast of his activities and news. Stay tuned for all the latest with this premier linebacker and true standout student-athlete.
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