Card Climbing Back with the Clears?

On paper, the move to a new head coach after Stanford's 1-11 season should breathe new life into recruitments that suffered in parallel this past fall. Quite the opposite played out with the heralded twins Brandon and Byron Clear in Hoover (Ala.). Stanford fell off a cliff, and now new head coach Jim Harbaugh is trying to climb back into the race. An in-home visit this week was a big first step...

One of the most exciting pieces of the Stanford 2007 recruiting board was found at Hoover (Ala.) High School, where twin brothers Brandon Clear and Byron Clear received early offers from and held high reciprocal interest with the Cardinal.  The former is a 6'5" wide receiver, while the latter is a 6'6" defensive end.  They took an unofficial visit to Stanford last summer in early August and came away sky high on Stanford and their coaching staff.  It did not hurt that their father, Col. Samuel Clear, had a close relationship with Walt Harris, who coached while he played in the early 1980s at Illinois.

Then Harris was fired, and the house of Cards came tumbling down.  Stanford dropped from the position of a prohibitive favorite to that of an afterthought.  In an effort to rekindle the Cardinal's chances, Jim Harbaugh went into the Hoover home this week to try and breathe life into Stanford's cold, lifeless recruiting corpse.

"They're considering Stanford.  Coach Harbaugh and Coach [David] Shaw came out for a visit on Tuesday.  We're going to reevaluate things," the father reports.  "[Harbaugh] seems to be a pretty good guy, and it was good to talk to him.  Of course, Coach Shaw attended Stanford, and talking to him and getting his perspective was a pretty good deal.  The bottom line is that we have to do what is best for the boys."

"They talked about the type of athletes they're going after and guys who have been in winning programs.  Hoover of course is a great program, and the boys have learned how to win," the Colonel says.  "They talked about running the West Coast offense, and they're running a 4-3 defense and probably have Byron as a rush D-end.  Guys they are bringing in have coached at the next level, so the boys would have the opportunity to be prepared for the next level.  And of course, the Stanford education speaks for itself."

There were two apparent goals in the Cardinal coaches with this in-home visit: 1) encourage the brothers to complete and submit their Stanford admissions applications; 2) convince the Clears to take an official visit to The Farm.  The former appears to have been successful.

"The boys will do the application.  Coach Harbaugh asked them to do the application, so we're going to get those sent out there," the Colonel comments.  "They had already done a lot of work on the application.  They just have to fine tune and finish it up."

On the latter, it appears that the unofficial visit the Clears took in August may ironically work against the Cardinal.  Neither brother has yet trimmed their school list beyond just a few schools.  Among an offer list that includes Stanford, Clemson, North Carolina State, Purdue, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Syracuse, UCLA, Illinois, Army, Memphis and Southern Miss, as many as eight schools are still in play.

Chances for a Stanford official visit look dim at this moment.

"As far as the campus is concerned, we've already seen it.  The boys have already seen the campus and absolutely love it," the father explains.  "If you go other places, then you can compare them to Stanford's campus.  There is a slight possibility, but given that they have already been there and have offers from other schools they have not seen, they probably need to see those campuses before they can make a decision."

If you have followed the recruiting stories of Brandon and Byron Clear, however, you know that their visit plans change with the winds.  To wit, they were scheduled to visit Syracuse this weekend, Illinois next weekend and Clemson the last weekend before Signing Day.  With a new Clemson offer for Brandon and inclement weather expected in upstate New York, the family is now looking at Clemson this weekend and North Carolina State two weeks afterward.

"They were supposed to go up to Syracuse, but I've been looking at the Weather Channel and it's a possibility they could get some snow up there," the father says.  "We don't want them to get snowed in and miss any more school.  Going to UCLA [last weekend], they did miss that Friday and got back late that Monday.  They were supposed to come back Sunday, but the ice storm in Dallas delayed them another day.  They're doing some catch-up on homework."

The lesson: nothing is set in stone with recruiting and official visits.  These dates and destinations are malleable.

But the Cardinal are playing a big game of catch-up after the Clear household was devastated by the news of Walt Harris' firing.  It looks like an uphill battle for Stanford, which Tuesday's in-home visit barely began.

"I wouldn't say that they are behind," the Colonel maintains.  "It's a place where the boys are considering, taking into account all of the factors.  They have to look at the other options.  They have seen Stanford; they have been to Stanford.  The only thing they haven't had a chance to do is meet the entire coaching staff."

"It's still everybody right now.  They haven't narrowed it down yet," the father adds.  "Maybe next week they will narrow it down to two or three.  With a couple weeks left in the process, we have to narrow it down some."

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