Though it wasn't a shock, it was very good and very big news for Stanford football when quarterback TC Ostrander of Atherton, California committed last week to Stanford. The match for TC and Stanford made a lot of sense:
- TC was born in Stanford hospital and has lived in the University's shadow all his life
- His father, Clint Ostrander, is a Stanford alumnus who was a pole vaulter for the track team in the late '60s.
- He has incredibly strong academics, an educational focus, and an education-minded family
- He is the #1 QB choice for the school that has been known for decades as "Quarterback U"
- He is being recruited into a Stanford offense, which in his words "revolves around the quarterback making good decisions"
"For a while, I have known Stanford was the right place to go," says Ostrander. "I just had to get comfortable."
That comfort level was a little bit about Stanford, but also about making a big and final decision. Though the prevailing logic in the recruiting world is that hometown schools provide a heightened attraction, TC's father Clint says that his son wrestled with staying close to home, versus extending his wings and being some place new and different. Additionally, the young Ostrander's recruiting options broadened in a hurry during the spring and summer, with more and more schools entering the picture and giving offers. His recruitment was a late-blooming one, and he felt uneasy about making a snap decision before checking all options out thoroughly.
"I just didn't feel it was the right thing to do," says Ostrander about making an earlier decision to Stanford. "But finally I realized it was the right decision. After all the evaluations, I just didn't think there was any downside at all with Stanford."
One stumbling block, which become rather publicly visible through recent recruiting writeups, was the concern about coming to Stanford right behind Trent Edwards, the top QB in the country the year before. In the end, Ostrander got past what is increasingly becoming a reality of Stanford football - that a lot of very talented players are being found at every position on the field.
"I realized that there will probably be competition where I go," notes Ostrander. "But this will make me a better quarterback. I also realized at some point that I can compete with Trent"
So last Thursday, TC and his parents made the short trip to Stanford and walked into the office of head coach Buddy Teevens. It was clear they were their to deliver some news, and the "Property of Stanford" athletic tee-shirt was a strong hint as to the direction of that news. Some of the coaches on the staff deliberately waked slowly past Buddy's office, peering through the glass. The young Ostrander gave the word of his commitment to Teevens. Teevens quickly alerted the other coaches, and the entire staff poured into the office with hearty congratulations and handshakes. As described by Clint Ostrander, it was an incredible and emotional celebratory reaction to TC's commitment. Stanford had their top guy, and the quarterback at that, which is often the cornerstone of any recruiting class.
TC Ostrander's rankings and credentials have exploded since the spring, when he performed as the top quarterback at the Palo Alto Nike Camp, the largest single camp in the history of the nationwide circuit, including a national gathering of top athletes and most college coaching staffs in Division I football. Some 'gurus' opined that Ostrander excelled on a day when some of the usual suspects (e.g. Kyle Wright) had off days, so the Atherton slinger headed up the coast to the Oregon Nike Camp to again display his wares. Again, he was the #1 quarterback of the camp, as well as being named the camp MVP, solidifying his meteoric rise among the nation's elite QBs. Following these performances, TC received an invitation from Student Sports and famed quarterback coach Bob Johnson to attend the Elite 11 quarterback camp. There TC continued to shine as he was tabbed by Student Sports' Greg Biggins as one of the top five performers, in this collection of the best QBs in the entire country. Unsurprisingly, offers from top college programs and national recruiting ratings have followed TC's performances like a shadow. Some of those ratings include:
- The Insiders #10 QB in the country
- Student Sports #10 QB in the country, #4 in California
- Student Sports college potential ranking #6 QB in the country, #3 in California
- Max Emfinger Super Seven All-American QB
- SuperPrep Pre-Season All-American, #17 overall player in the Far West
- Rivals #11 pro-style QB in the country
So how is it that this most elite of quarterbacks lay dormant through the fall and winter of last year, only to emerge like a rocket late this spring? The answer there is two-fold. First, TC plays for a Menlo-Atherton program that is lightly regarded in a sea of talented and closely watched California high school football programs. On top of that, his junior season provided OK but not eye-catching numbers (1500 yards and 12 TDs) while his supporting offensive cast struggled with many new faces and new positions. The Menlo-Atherton Bears finished a disappointing 4-5 in 2001.
The second half to the story, though, is the off-season work that TC has tirelessly engaged with quarterback coach Roger Theder. Theder should be a recognizable name to Stanford fans, as he was also the coach and mentor to Trent Edwards of Los Gatos, last year's #1 quarterback in the country and current Stanford freshman. Ostrander and Theder worked out every weekend through the last fall, winter and into the spring, producing great strides in TC's footwork, release and accuracy. Ostrander could feel the tremendous improvement, but the stage was set for little attention from coches and the recruiting services. Therein lies the beauty of the Nike Camps, which allow kids from all manner of different high schools to come together in one place at one time. That is when Ostrander's abilities were recognized for the first time on a grand scale, with the backdrop of lesser performances from some of the hottest quarterback recruits in the country.
Stepping away from this Stanford recruiting note, this is a great story for kids all over the country who get down about their exposure and opportunities, with the handcuffs of middling high school programs and/or visibility. The hard work eventually did pay off, and though it came later than maybe TC Ostrander would have liked, it certainly came early enough to set him up for a full array of college options.
Now that the young signal caller has his decision behind him, he has two sets of focus ahead of him: 1) concentrate on school and football for his senior year and 2) help Stanford recruit the best class in the country to enter with him. To that second goal, TC is eager to get the word out to recruits about his commitment and the opportunities at Stanford. He says he is likely to focus mostly on offensive recruits, who will be mo