Stanford offered two big official visit weekends in this recruiting year, hosting nine recruits in an official capacity the second weekend of December and then another nine the second weekend of January. The last weekend in January, however, there was a smaller and less publicized official visit taken by a pair of walk-on candidates, one longtime committed and admitted recruit and one newly unearthed recruit with the prospect of receiving a scholarship offer. East Stroudsburg (Pa.) South High School senior linebacker/tight end Max Bergen is the very newest recruit to come onto the Cardinal recruiting radar, and today he will sign a National Letter of Intent with Stanford.
Bergen has not been covered by any of the public recruiting services, so his story has gone untold. The Bootleg reached the Pennsylvania two-way standout last night for his story. Bergen received a scholarship offer before he left The Farm 10 days ago, and he says that he committed to Jim Harbaugh shortly after returning home from his official visit. The linebacker recruit had previously taken an Ivy League official visit in December and committed to the school just before Christmas, leaving Bergen in the position of having to break his earlier verbal commitment.
"On the official visit they offered," Bergen reports. "I told Coach Harbaugh that I would go home for a day and just think over things because I had already committed to Princeton. I took about a day and then called him that Sunday night. I told him that I wanted to commit. Later on I had to call back the Princeton coach and tell them that I was going to Stanford, which was not an easy thing to do."
"I just thought that Stanford was something I couldn't pass up," he adds. "It wasn't that hard, knowing the fact that I could go to Stanford and play Division I football."
While Stanford wins a number of kids by offering a clearly superior education compared to other Division I-A programs, an Ivy League school can in some cases go toe-to-toe with The Farm. It came down to athletic rather than academic reasons for Bergen to choose the Cardinal over the Tigers.
"I just really want to play with kids at the level where I would know I have to push myself and be surrounded by other players who are that much better," Bergen explains.
The Keystone State student-athlete had completed his Stanford admissions application and felt confidence in his prospects at the time of his verbal commitment, but it was not until the end of last week that he was accepted by the school. That allows Bergen to sign officially with Stanford today.
While the other 18 of today's 19 expected signees for Stanford were found and initially recruited under the previous regime, Bergen was wholly discovered by Harbaugh's staff.
Bergen is a 6'2" 210-pound athlete who can run. We have him pegged as a weakside outside linebacker in Stanford's 4-3 defense, though Bergen says that new linebackers coach Andy Buh would like to experiment with him initially at all three linebacker positions when he arrives on campus this fall.
As a senior at East Stroudsburg South, Bergen recorded 93 tackles on defense. He also played tight end in the Cavaliers' running offense, rarely used to catch the ball but prolific when his number was called. Bergen caught four touchdowns on 12 receptions totaling 273 yards.
Stay tuned for more on Bergen's story still to come.
The Frink Finale
The big blue chip target still on the board for Stanford on Signing Day is Oxford (Miss.) High School linebacker Johnathon Frink. His story has been well documented for the last year - at least until the past month. After repeatedly telling the world that he favored Ole Miss, the SEC school located in his backyard, Frink had two momentous events in January. The three-star prospect took an official visit to Stanford that blew him and his parents away. Then after returning home to Oxford, he learned that he his admissions application had been accepted, clearing a non-trivial hurdle that had clipped several Cardinal recruits this year.
Frink had Stanford linebackers coach Andy Buh in his home last week after learning of admissions acceptance. Scout.com's #25-ranked middle linebacker prospect in the Class of 2007 told Buh he was signing with Stanford, according to sources close the recruitment.
This has all remained completely hidden from public view, however, as Frink the last few weeks has gone completely radio silent. The expectation and scrutiny that comes with being one of the elite in-state prospects in the same town as Ole Miss is probably to blame. If Frink indeed signs with Stanford today, as The Bootleg predicts, there will be surprise and upset in Oxford. It is understandable that Frink has not wished to fan the flames of his recruiting decision in the media.
On the other hand, some might take his silence, a full week past his supposed verbal commitment to the Cardinal, as an indication of some doubt with his decision. Verbal commitments are not in the least bit binding, and only the signed and faxed National Letter of Intent today officially ends a college recruitment. Stanford has seen several examples this year where they have benefited from a prospect's decommitment, including Bergen breaking from Princeton, Corey Gatewood bailing on Boston College and Brad Hallick saying farewell to Virginia.
Stay tuned for the LOI news today, as the highly anticipated fax from Frink rolls across the wire on The Farm or elsewhere. Should he ink with the Cardinal, it would be one of the biggest stories of Stanford's entire class, not only for the momentous recruiting upset it would be but also for the impact Frink is expected to have. He could play early at linebacker for Stanford and would become the most likely defensive signee in this class to play as a true freshman.
One More (Maybe) To Go
Beyond Frink as Stanford's possible 19th commitment and signee today, there could be a 20th member of the Cardinal recruiting class later this month. Bergen Catholic (N.J.) High School senior linebacker/safety Dean Scaduto has broken onto the scene not just for Stanford but for a bicoastal recruiting race in recent weeks. His senior film caught the attention of college coaches in January and netted him scholarship offers from the likes of West Virginia, California, Minnesota and Tulsa. Also a standout student-athlete with a 94% unweighted average in the classroom, Scaduto has taken a hard look at several Ivy League schools.
Scaduto is a safety prospect at 6'1" and 208 pounds, which is a big need for Stanford in this class. Only Taylor Skaufel from Texas is currently committed and expected to sign today at safety. Previous commit Eddie Morgan recently learned that his admissions application was not accepted at Stanford, taking him off the board. Four-star safety Cameron Collins also failed to gain admission to Stanford. The new Cardinal coaching staff additionally opted to cut loose three-star Eric Block, who had been offered in the final days of the Walt Harris regime.
Taking a look at Stanford's needs at safety and difficulty recruiting the position this year, and also considering the caliber of offers Scaduto has added of late, this looks like a critical recruitment. The question is not only whether Scaduto can gain admission - he this week chased down his last teacher recommendation - but also whether there is a spot for him at Stanford.
"They had a spot, but it got filled up," Scaduto explains. "They have one more spot left open, but there is a fifth-year senior there. He's trying to get readmitted for a sixth year, which may not happen. Basically, that would be my next scholarship spot."
The current Stanford player petitioning the NCAA for a sixth year is tight end Matt Traverso, who missed almost the entire 2006 season and also was saddled with injury as a freshman in 2002. News is expected soon on Traverso's petition, which apparently will give the Cardinal a veteran and talented tight end for the 2007 season or a bright, young safety talent.
It was recently reported that Scaduto will take his Stanford official visit this weekend, but he says that those plans were tweaked yesterday.
"I'm going out next week," Scaduto says. "Their head coach is flying out this Saturday to go to a meeting, and he wants to meet with me and my dad. So it's better if I come out in two weeks. They also have a home basketball game and all that good stuff."
The Bergen Catholic standout also says that he has told a number of the schools chasing him that they can move on with other plans. He expects to choose from a final trio of Stanford, Cal and Harvard in the coming weeks. Scaduto had hoped and for a long time dreamed of the ceremony and excitement of making his college choice official today, but his circumstances have him waiting instead.
"To tell you the truth, it is sort of weird. Ever since three years ago, when I started following the recruiting process and the signing dates and people now who are in college or the NFL, I have been waiting for this big day," the recruit comments. "For a high school kid, it's a big deal - the National Signing Day. I always knew I would have to do it, and I can't believe it's already here. But with my situation, I had gotten my tapes out late and had not been in contact with a lot of the coaches until late in the process. That's why a lot of the offers came later on."
Stay tuned for more on Scaduto's story, as it unwinds in the next couple weeks.
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