The newcomers to Stanford football reported this morning, and by noon, already had a full day. They showed up at 8:00 am for conditioning and testing, followed by an off-field meeting, then their first Stanford practice at 10:00 am.
The immediate overall good news is that this freshman class looks like they have arrived completely healthy. Every player participated fully in all drills; nobody stood on the sideline at any time. Clearly, there is no guarantee that everyone will stay healthy - this is football after all. But it is notable and exciting that Buddy Teevens is starting with a full deck of healthy kids with his first freshman class.
The practice started with a good deal of stretching, then a number of footwork and agility drills for everyone. Ladders and cones. After that, the players and coaches split up into position groups, which gave a lot of very individualized attention for several players. The O-line and DBs were the two largest groups, and TEs, with Matt Traverso as the lone tight end, the smallest. Matt, by the way, looks even bigger in pads and the uniform than when I have seen him in street clothes several times before. He looks and moves every bit the part of a college tight end - he just looks ready. We need a few weeks to see if he can come along with all of the details and mental part of the game fast enough to play right away, but with Darin Naatjes gone to pro baseball, the need is absolutely there for Matt to play right away. My early observations are that his blocking is likely to be better than his receiving right away. But that is an early guess with a few looks.
TE Matt Traverso
Trent Edwards looks every bit as sharp as in past observations, and he is better refined and skilled as a thrower than any frosh QB that has come to Stanford in many years. Nevertheless, he has a good deal of learning to do, and I want to caution against Boller-esque runaway expectations. I watched the throwing drills closely, and he has some inconsistencies and some things to work on. The real question is not where is he now, but instead where he will be come September.
QB Trent Edwards
TJ Rushing is unquestionably the ready-for-primetime stud in this class, and it is a good thing that his apparent abilities match up with the great need Stanford has for another cornerback. I had seen TJ on film, and was impressed with his speed and quickness, but watching him in person is a strong confirmation. Granted, he comes in a class that lacks other small speed guys like him - he is one of arguably two pure corners, and there are no scholarship receivers or tailbacks. So I should note that how fast he looks is partially due to the backdrop of a class dominated with linemen. But still, I watched him in the footwork drills and in coverage, and the kid is exceptional. I have said this since February, but my conviction just grew this morning: TJ Rushing will play this fall, and has a big future at Stanford.
A strong complement of walk-on players joins the more publicly hailed class signed to scholarships last February. Though this class was bereft of receivers, two walk-ons have showed in Chris Ryan and Dan Knickerbocker, from Dallas and Miami respectively. My immediate first impression is that Chris Ryan could be more talented than you would guess with the 'walk-on' label. The kid shows good hands, and has the moves and speed to play at the Pac-10 level. I did not get a good look yet at the other freshman walk-ons, and will report more on them later.
WR Chris Ryan
But the grandest news has to be an upperclass walk-on, which I have known about since the spring, but was not sure of his status for this fall. I had greater suspicions and concern when he did not show up on the official Stanford website roster page, but lo and behold... Stanford's newest punter, Jay Goff, was there this morning. I have heard promising things about this young man, better known as a decathlete for Stanford's track & field team. I can't tell you much more right now, but the simple arrival of a second punting specialist with some promise is excitement enough.
P Jay Goff
Punting needs: Buddy gives Jay personal attention