As active as the search for Stanford's next coach, so too is there feverish activity surrounding the current crop of Cardinal recruits. Signing Day is just nine weeks away, and Stanford on paper has a huge class to fill. To do so with quality and impact recruits would have been already challenging on the heels of a 1-11 season, but the situation was further muddied by the firing of Stanford head coach Walt Harris. We quickly contacted the Cardinal's top commit in this 2007 class, quarterback/safety Kellen Killsgaard. Just a few hours after we published that piece, we heard from 6'7" offensive tackle George Halamandaris, who was Stanford's first '07 pledge back in May.
"I just wanted to say that I'm still solid," Halamandaris says. "I think Stanford is the right place for me. I'm a winner. Winning is very important to me, and obviously it is very important to Mr. [Bob] Bowlsby as well."
The Moorpark (Calif.) High School senior talked with both recruiting coordinator Nate Nelson and athletic director Bob Bowlsby on Monday. The former assured Halamandaris that Stanford was still committed to him, while the latter delivered a broader message.
"He said basically that in the last few weeks, he felt we had good prospects but not a good program," the recruit recalls from his conversation with Bowlsby. "And that he felt that Stanford can't claim the best athletics in the country without a good football team."
Halamandaris was particularly fired up after reading the comments from his future quarterback in Kiilsgaard, who not only stood firm with his Stanford commitment. Kiilsgaard also announced that he was taking unofficial visits to Stanford on his own dime this weekend and the official visit weekend in January.
"I think it's refreshing that this class wants to turn things around, like Kellen going to all the recruiting dates," says Halamandaris. "I want to start calling guys and encouraging them to join the Cardinal family."
"I hope that this is the start of a new, reborn Stanford program," he continues. "I am sorry that Coach Harris was shown the way out because he is a class guy and a great coach. But like I said, I don't think that Mr. Bowlsby is going to accept losing, and that's something I agree with."
"I'm just refreshed that Stanford is still committed to me because before that call, I honestly began to realize there is nowhere else for me. Stanford is the right place. It's the only place," Halamandaris asserts.
Stanford won't be the place where Halamandaris spends his upcoming weekend. He could have taken this official visit to The Farm, but his Musketeers have a date with the CIF Southern Section Northern Division championship game. Moorpark was expected to have a tough battle on their hands this past weekend against a red-hot Newhall (Calif.) Hart team that had just handled Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure. Halamandaris' team instead hammered Hart, 56-27, in a rout that started with a 49-0 lead into the third quarter.
"It was a great win. We rolled over them," Halamandaris happily reports. "It was a big surprise. We're finally operating on all cylinders, and it's fun."
The final game of Halamandaris' high school career will come this Saturday in the CIF-SS championship game, played at 4pm at the Home Depot Center against Canyon Country (Calif.) Canyon. The Cowboys clipped Moorpark in the season opener back in August. Both teams are ranked among the best in the greater Los Angeles area, making this a highly anticipated showdown.
"Yeah, they're a very good team. They beat us 33-14 back in Week 0. 2008 recruit A.J. Wallerstein goes there," Halamandaris previews. "I think that the offensive line's going to play a huge role in this game. This defense is one of the best in Southern California, with a well-coached defensive line."
"I just hope we play our hearts out, and I'd like nothing more than to leave with a ring on my finger. That's what I set out to do this season. That's what I want to accomplish," the titanic tackle continues. "I've had a great run at Moorpark under a great coach in Coach [Tim] Lins, and it's meant a lot to my development as a player and as a person."
"But December 10 begins my training to become a Pac-10 lineman," Halamandaris adds. "I am looking forward to having a big off-season."
The 6'7" 300-pounder who has plowed the way for a 3,000-yard season for Moorpark's junior superstar running back knows plenty about big, so we'll take his word on that. First things first, he has a ring to collect, peer recruits to call and a Stanford official visit to take. We'll check back with him soon on those items.
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