It was a story we thought would wrap up in September. It ended instead in November. In a breakfast Monday morning with Walt Harris, Tucker Waugh, Tom Freeman and Nate Nelson, three-star wide receiver Sean Wiser pulled the trigger with a commitment to Stanford. The Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian School standout was finishing his 48 hours on campus for his official visit to The Farm and felt ready to end his recruitment.
"After a little conversation, they started talking about where my recruiting was going to go. At that point, I knew that Stanford was where I wanted to be, so I told them the news," the newest Cardinal commit reports. "They were really excited. They had been trying to get me all weekend. It was definitely a relief for both parties."
"Of course, their academics speak for themselves," Wiser says of his Stanford decision. "But it's the attitude of the team, how close the team is with each other and the fact that they haven't given up on trying to win games. Having not won a game isn't holding them back, and that was really impressive."
Wiser held double-digit offers, including Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Northwestern, Duke and Virginia. He narrowed his horizon to the Ducks, Cavaliers and Cardinal. Wiser took official visits in back-to-back weekends in September to Charlottesville and Eugene, and after gaining admission to Stanford last month took his third and final trip to Stanford this past weekend.
Most of these recruiting decisions come down to the finer points of football or academics, but Wiser stood satisfied with those areas before this visit. What remained for him to examine on the Cardinal campus was his fit with the players and the Stanford social scene. The softer elements passed muster and primed a commitment.
"Hanging out with a lot of those freshmen, and then going out with the whole team, I saw how it really was. I really liked it, and that was the tipping point," he explains. "After hanging out with the guys, I started to feel like I knew that this is where I wanted to be. I just wanted to wait until the end of my trip and make sure I had gone through everything. I wanted to tell them while I was still there."
Wiser hands out credit to Cardinal freshman wide receiver Austin Yancy, who not only started and was a game captain on Saturday, but he also hosted his future position mate.
"He was a great host. He's a really nice kid," Wiser says of Yancy. "He introduced me to a lot of people - not just on the football team, but in the school. He took me out and showed me around. I had a really great time with him."
"He was talking about wanting to go four-wide, and he really wanted to me to come be one of the four," the recruit continues. "Just his whole attitude about playing better, getting better, next season and not letting this season not get to him - that impressed me."
Showing a good time to a recruit isn't easy for a team that was just flattened 42-0 at home, but Wiser says the Stanford student-athletes were resilient.
"They're all competitive guys, so they were all pretty bummed that they had lost. But they didn't let them affect them too much, and they wanted to take me out and show what Stanford is really about," he describes. "They were upbeat toward me and trying to convince me the whole weekend."
It didn't hurt that Wiser was able to watch the defeat inside the confines of a magnificent new stadium. The Southern California native attended a game last fall in the old Stanford Stadium - the infamous UC-Davis game, no less. Saturday's shutout was certainly no worse on the field, but the surrounding facility and atmosphere was what caught Wiser' attention.
"I really liked the stadium," he assesses. "It wasn't completely full, but they still had a pretty good crowd. Being in the new stadium, you're a lot closer and it's a lot more personal. I really like the feel of how the stadium is so close to the field. Even though they didn't win, it still had a good feel in the stadium."
What is curious about this Cardinal commitment is the juxtaposition of Stanford's record and that of Oaks Christian. Wiser's high school is riding a 41-game winning streak, while his future school is 0-9. Both marks will likely grow in the coming weeks.
"I've had that said to me: 'You're going from a winning program to a team that hasn't won this year,'" he admits. "But if you look at it, they're plagued by injuries on offense. The defense played really well. They held [USC] under 100 yards rushing until the end of the fourth quarter. If those injuries didn't happen, and a few plays here and there, they'd be a lot different team."
Additionally, Wiser sees himself as a piece in that turnaround puzzle. Stanford has been painfully thin at wide receiver this year, and the Oaks Christian athlete has heard excitement from the Cardinal coaches on his chance to remedy that situation the next several years.
"They really like how I catch the ball and run routes," the recruit relates. "They've showed that they have two good receivers who are freshmen this year. They just need two more guys to seal the deal for them. They could then run a few more four-receiver packages, and I could be one of the key guys for that."
Relieved that his recruitment is over, Wiser admits it will be "strange" to no longer talk to a breadth of college coaches each week. He can focus on the remainder of his senior season and a CIF championships. The wide receiver has hauled in 33 balls for 571 yards and 10 touchdowns thus far this fall, but he hopes to catch something more. Wiser wants to bring in more blue chip players to join him in this 2007 Stanford signing class.
"Hopefully people will see that they are trying to get some guys who are from winning schools and really want to win," Wiser says. "I hope I can help out in any way I can - talk to guys they are recruiting. Just pull in a really well-rounded class that will help turn the program around."
"They have a good freshman class this year, with a bunch of guys who are redshirted," he adds. "They would be a big part of turning around the program and winning some games. You can't let a bad season deter you from wanting to going there. You have to look at the injuries and stuff like that."
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