You already told us about how the process went down Thursday night with your family for this decision. What can you tell us that ultimately made the difference for you, when I know that you genuinely liked all three schools?
"That's what my gut feeling was. That's the school where I felt most comfortable. If I wasn't playing football, that's the school I'd want to be in. I also took a look at the football program. I met all the players. There is tremendous talent on that team. I watched them played a couple times. I was at Washington when they played Stanford, and I was at Cal for the Big Game. I could see all the talent on the team. I don't really doubt that we will win next year with the new guidance because I met the players. I felt comfortable with the players. That's just where my heart was at. That's where I felt most comfortable, and I felt good saying I'm a Stanford Cardinal. And don't know. It just felt like me [laughs]. It wasn't any one thing. That's just where I felt most comfortable."
You say that you saw them play twice and saw some talent there, but you had some positive feelings for Stanford throughout this whole process - did the 1-11 weigh on you a little bit?
"Yeah, it did a little bit [laughs]. Yeah, that really confused me in the beginning once the season started. I liked Stanford, and that 1-11 was getting to my head. But I followed the team the whole year. Even before the fall, I would check on the summer camp every day and see all the injuries every day happening. I knew their record was a false image because of all the injuries. It even went as far as that staph infection they had. I met the players, and I know those guys are heck of players. They're great and have tremendous talent. Especially because this recruiting class has a lot of great talent on it. If we work hard, we'll get the job done."
Another wrinkle in this was that you got to know the previous coaching staff...
"Yeah, that was weird. I can't imagine what it would be like to be on the team and go through that. It was weird just being a recruit going through two different coaching staffs. It felt kind of weird. Where is my old coach? Where's Coach Buzz [Preston]? [laughs] I'm supposed to be calling him up, or Coach [Dave] Tipton. It's just part of the business, and you have to accept that. The change, I guess, is in the best interest of the University. That's why the Athletic Director did it. I like all the new coaches, and I have my full confidence in them to help us, to coach us and to guide us through next season and the next four or five years. I'm excited and can't wait."
You had told us before how much you liked Dave Tipton, and now there will be new defensive line coaching for Stanford. Have you had a chance to meet Lance Anderson?
"Yeah, I've met him. He was a good guy. I like both of them. I'm excited to know him more. I've only met him once because of the new coaching situation. He's a great guy. I can't say enough about him. High energy. I can't wait to work with him and learn from him."
Also a new coach, so what questions did you have about Jim Harbaugh that you feel he answered satisfactorily for you or your family, where this is still going to be as good a situation for you - whether it's football or a trusting relationship with the coaches - as you felt with the old staff?
"I could sense his high energy, and he's always on the field running and everything. He's very up-tempo and ready to fight in the game. It felt good. I asked him just basic questions. It felt weird asking him questions that I had asked other coaches a long, long time ago. Just basic stuff like what type of defense they're going to run, what is his plan for rebuilding the program and all of that kind of stuff."
What was the one issue, either in your own head or talking with your mom and dad back on Thursday, that kind of made this decision the hardest for you?
"It was probably going over it in my head. I kept seeing different perspectives and different things. That was probably the toughest part in convincing myself where I should go."
Was it a tough couple phone calls to make to Washington and Cal?
"Yeah, it was. But I think I've discussed my decision with all of the coaches so much that they know I've thought it out. They're not going to hassle me about it because they know how much effort I've put into this decision. I'm not making a mistake. It's not as if I made a decision out of the blue without even discussing things over or anything."
Which Stanford coach did you actually talk to when you committed, and what was the reaction?
"They were excited. I told Coach Anderson and Coach Harbaugh. They were very excited and pumped up. At first, I think they were quiet for a bit. I may have caught them off-guard or something. Then they were just really excited."
What is your own expectation, either through what you believe of your abilities or what this staff has told you upon watching film, of your role and playing time or redshirting this next fall at Stanford?
"Well, I know it's new coaches, so the slate is wiped clean. I want to try to get there as early in the summer as I can to start training. I'm just going to battle every day and give them my all every day. If that takes me to the front of playing or to redshirting, it all depends on how hard I work and how much effort I give in the summer and fall camp. I'm just training hard. Whatever happens, happens. I'm not demanding this and that. I'm going there and playing football and fighting every day. That's what I'm going to do - earn my respect amongst the players."
We've talked before about how your school didn't have the season you wanted, plus that elbow injury hurt you as well. You haven't had the chance this year to play the football that you've wanted, and you said your coaches didn't play you much on defense this year. Some people might look at that and wonder what kind of impact can a kid who barely played any defense this year have in the Pac-10 level on defense next year. For any skeptics out there, what do you have going for you that can maybe surprise some people?
"I'm not going to tell people what I'm going to do. I'm going to show them what I'm going to do. I'm going to work hard, and if I do something great, it'll be noticed. I'm not going to tell people what I'm going to come in and do. I'm going to do it and let people see what I do. I'm just going to work hard and earn my respect the hard way. When I do something, I work for it. I do what it takes to get a job done. So I'm going to find a way to make up for the loss of experience in high school playing defense and work my hardest to play the position right, learn from the coaches and make plays."
I'll ask a slightly different question. Instead of asking you to trumpet what you are going to achieve, what do you personally plan to do and how do you want to train between now and when you arrive at Stanford that you think will help you the most?
"Probably get my speed a little higher. My strength is pretty good. I can squat any given weight and bench any given weight. I can probably just get a little faster. I've been working on my endurance, and I have my endurance high now. I'm building up my speed and explosiveness. I can get off the ball fast, but if I can get better, that's something I want to focus on - my get-off speed. I probably want to aim for getting a couple steps faster."
What is your current weight? Have you heard any comment from Coach Anderson after he eyeballed you...
"They are aiming to build me into a defensive end. They feel that I'm the right size. They were surprised I'm 270 because I don't look 270. They know that I can add a lot more weight and still be lean and fast."
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up) and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!