The chase for Brad Hallick by Stanford was just getting underway when he pulled the trigger Memorial Day Weekend with a verbal commitment to Virginia. Nearly seven months later, the Pottsville (Pa.) Area High School offensive lineman has decommitted from the Cavaliers and now officially calls himself a Cardinal. It was a story that took more than half a year to play out, though quietly and patiently.
"At the time, I really did love Virginia, and that seemed like the best choice for me. But to be honest, my recruitment with Stanford didn't really start until after I committed to Virginia," Hallick begins. "I was recruited by Coach [Doug] Sams. He made several visits. He even came to a couple of my practices this year, all the way from California. They recruited me hard. They gave me a lot of attention. Coach [Nate] Nelson always said that I was always a huge part of their class, and that I would be able to play early because they're losing seven senior linemen. I was also academically accepted."
The Pennsylvania prospect may have just now come into the public Cardinal recruiting radar, but he unofficially visited The Farm in late June with his mother, father, sister and grandparents. He worked on the Stanford admissions application throughout the summer and was admitted during the fall.
"When I went out on my visit to Stanford, that's when I started loving the place," Hallick reports. "It was the whole environment - I loved the new stadium, the campus, the practice facility, the locker room and of course the weather. Coach Sams and Coach [Dave] Tipton took us around on a golf cart. It was like a limousine golf cart, and we got to go around the campus and take everything in. I loved the golf course. I also golf in my free time."
Hallick had more than one dance partner through the fall, however, which entailed additional unofficial visits.
"I was being heavily recruited by Michigan and also Penn State," he says. "We went out to the Michigan-Vanderbilt game; that was their first game of the season. After that, I had a chance to speak with Coach [Lloyd] Carr. I was also invited to see the Penn State-Michigan game. I got to speak to their coaches and everything. I was recruited by those two schools during the season, as well as Stanford."
A decommitment situation is a delicate thing. While there is nothing binding by the NCAA about an oral commitment, a young student-athlete is probing whether to back out of his verbal pledge to a school, a program and a head coach. Often such matters are handled with great discretion, if the recruit might eventually hold with the original commitment. If the allegiance is ultimately switched from one school to another, it is difficult to avoid hard feelings between the first commitment school and the recruit. This is especially true if the school is left in the dark during the reopening of the prospect's recruitment.
In Hallick's case, the Cavaliers were disappointed to see him go, but they were not caught by surprise. He maintained a degree of transparency through these months of soul-searching.
"I let them know throughout the whole process that I was thinking about other places," Hallick explains. "They knew that I was looking at other places, and I told them that I was looking at other places. They still thought I was still secure with them. Then when I decommitted to them [Thursday night], it was Coach [Bob] Price that I talked to. He said that he kind of saw it coming."
Virginia did not go down without a fight. Head coach Al Groh made a visit to Pottsville Area High School to talk with Hallick recently in an effort to retain his commtiment, as did assistant coaches. Unfortunately, one publication propagated a report within hours of his decommitment that Virginia pulled their scholarship. That surprised and disappointed the Keystone State standout.
"It's funny. The Virginia site on Rivals actually reported that my scholarship was taken away. That's totally wrong," Hallick says. "They also said that one of the coaches came to my house. That's totally wrong, too. No one ever came to my house. They just wrote the story up. I wasn't quoted, and they didn't contact me at all. They just reported this, but hey, what are you going to do."
Observers may be left to ask the question of why the seven-month saga took this long to unfold. Hallick had his admissions acceptance in hand some time ago, and his unofficial visits to Ann Arbor and State College were completed by mid-October. The delay came from a decision he made to play out his football season before pulling the trigger on any recruiting decision. As it turns out, that season spanned three and a half months - with no bye weeks - for Hallick and the Crimson Tide, who for the second straight year advanced to the PIAA Class AAA championship game.
"To be honest, we were still playing football up until last week," he explains. "We played 16 games this season because we played in the state championship. My main focus during that period was football on the high school level, on my team and on helping my team make it back to the state championship. I kind of put recruiting on the back burner, but my heart always told me that Stanford was the right place. After the end of my season, I sat down with my parents. We just felt that Stanford was the best situation for me."
Ironically, Hallick's patient approach to this recruiting decision worked against him. By the time he took off his helmet for the final time in his prep career on December 15, Stanford no longer had a head coach. Though he professes that his heart led him to Stanford ever since his late-June visit to The Farm, his head had to absorb the impact of a transition in the Cardinal program. Hallick says that he was guided through that uncertainty by some advice given to him. Then he had to wait just a few days before Jim Harbaugh was hired to close the deal.
"Throughout the whole process, a lot of the coaches told me: you pick a school for the school, not the coaches. That helped me," Hallick describes. "Then with the hiring of Coach Harbaugh, it tipped me over. I talked to him the night he was hired. Just after talking to him, I knew that I had to go to Stanford."
"We were talking about the future at Stanford and his visions for the future at Stanford," the recruit continues. "That got me excited because it's a new reign. It's pretty much starting over, and I could be part of something big to happen the next four to five years."
"Big" is an apropos word in describing several dimensions of this Cardinal commitment. Hallick is the first pledge netted by Harbaugh in Stanford's 2007 recruiting class, and it came just 48 hours after his hire. The Pennsylvania prize is a large one, as well. Hallick stands at 6'6.25" in his bare feet, tipping the scales at 293 pounds. He is Stanford's fourth commit on the offensive line this year, which also includes another two towering figures in 6'7" 305-pound Tyler Mabry and 6'7" 305-pound George Halamandaris.
Scout.com currently rates Hallick a three-star recruit and ranks him the #53 offensive tackle prospect in the nation.
"Hallick is a nice pick-up for Jim Harbaugh," says Scout.com recruiting analyst Bob Lichtenfels. "You ask any college coach what they're looking for, and lineman 6'6" and over are often at the top of the priority list. That is Hallick - a 6'6" guy with the size to play tackle and the athleticism to play inside. He is very cerebral a kid who dominates on the field and in the classroom."
Hallick last night received the news that he was named First-Team All-State in Pennsylvania for Class AAA by the Associated Press. He was also his league's Offensive Lineman of the Year. His most colorful recognition saw him named the All-Anthracite Offensive Lineman of the Year - an honor that spanned four counties in the heart of coal country.
The titanic tackle plowed the way in the Crimson Tide's "Wing-T" offense for more than 4,000 rushing yards - 255 per game and 6.4 per carry. His team went 13-3 this fall and had the state championship within their grasp. Pottsville gave up the go-ahead score with less than five minutes to go in the fourth quarter and then marched down the field, only to be stopped by the width of a few chain links on a fourth down at the 13-yardline with 67 seconds left in regulation of a 28-23 defeat. The two teams combined for an eye-popping (and championship record) 781 yards of offense.
"We had a great run," Hallick sums up. "We ended up losing in the state championship again. This time it was a lot different because our offense just dominated. We didn't punt the ball once, and we didn't have any penalties. But we ended up losing. Basically, their offense did the same thing. Our defense couldn't stop them. It was a great game. It was a close game, but we just fell short."
Hallick played offensive tackle throughout the 16-game season, as well as specialized duty on the defensive line. Pottsville played a small lineup on their slanting five-man defensive front for most downs, but Hallick was inserted at defensive tackle in short yardage situations. He does not have a tremendous amount of experience in pass protection, after operating in an offense that ran 80% of the time. But he is confident that his abilities project him as a Pac-10 offensive lineman at the next level.
"It's my technique and my foot speed," Hallick cites. "Also my motor."
The standout student-athlete says that the combined demands of his football season and his college recruitment took a toll on him this fall. Maintaining his level of academics has been difficult, but he has managed to sustain a #2 ranking in his high school senior class at Pottsville. Hallick holds down a 3.9 unweighted GPA with a courseload full of honors courses plus AP world history and AP computer science. He has suffered one B+ in all of his high school studies, in probability and statistics.
Brad Hallick knows enough to tell us that his chances are excellent for athletic and academic success at the next level, fresh off his Stanford decision.
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