It was decided last week but announced publicly last night by head coach Jim Harbaugh on a radio show: Stanford senior wide receiver Mark Bradford is coming back to The Farm for a fifth year in 2007. The news follows that of classmate and position mate Evan Moore, less than 48 hours earlier, also choosing to return to Stanford in '07.
Both fourth-year wideouts had their respective 2006 seasons decimated by injury, but Bradford's decision was different from Moore's. The latter was considering which school and program would best help his football career upon graduating from Stanford this year - a new NCAA rule allows a transfer between Division I schools after a student-athlete earns his degree, without a penalty of sitting a year. Bradford instead was examining the jump to the NFL, despite playing just one complete game this fall before injuring his right foot on the second offensive play of the second game versus San Jose State.
The fluke injury, coming on a wide receiver screen in which Bradford caught a three-yard pass and had a Spartans defender step on his foot, tore ligaments and broke a bone in the senior's foot. Bradford can receive a medical redshirt for 2006 after never returning to the practice field the remainder of the 12-game, 14-week season. His one performance in the season opener at Oregon, in which the Cardinal were handled but Bradford caught nine balls for 108 yards and a touchdown, hinted at the monster season the 6'2" athlete was prepared to enjoy.
Bradford's NFL stock was high coming into the year, as well, not only on the back of
the 1600-plus yards, 15.5 yards per reception and 10 touchdowns his previous three seasons at Stanford. The Los Angeles (Calif.) native also was well-known to have conducted the best off-season of training of his career, raising his physical condition and his receiving skills to a new plateau.
The deadline for college football players like Bradford with remaining college eligibility to declare for the NFL is January 15.
Now that Mark Bradford has decided to take another year of college football to prepare himself for his professional career, the Cardinal will eagerly anticipate his production and playmaking on the field in 2007. At a time when most of our attention is fixated on the recruiting wars involving Stanford, Harbaugh has landed the two biggest fish in the sea with the returns of Bradford and Moore to the team in 2007.
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