Prior to his time Saturday at Stanford, tight end recruit Joseph Fauria had already attended two Junior Days - USC and UCLA. With the Bruins offering a scholarship to the Encino (Calif.) Crespi Carmelite High School standout and the Trojans yet to jump on board, Fauria was focused on comparing his Junior Day experience on The Farm to that he enjoyed at Westwood.
"They both have great areas, and they're both in California," Fauria begins. "Stanford was something new I haven't seen before. I got a really, really good vibe with the coaches. They're an all new coaching staff. Coach [Tim] Drevno - loved him. How can you not love the guy? I think our relationship got a lot better. I got to meet with him in person, and I could see myself being coached by him. I was the only tight end there on Junior Day, and there was a lot of one-on-one between me and him. He got to hear my insight and my knowledge of the game of football, and I got to hear his as well."
"I had a great experience, and Stanford is probably close to my top school right now," he adds.
Before embarking on the trip, Fauria listed a handful of criteria which he holds important toward his college decision: tradition, education and the coaching staff. He was particularly keen on the tight ends coach, with whom he will have his closest relationship in college.
"This was a huge, huge step," Fauria exclaims. "Coach Drevno was a kick. He fit into all of the criteria that I was looking for in a tight end coach. He basically felt the same way about me."
No doubt some of the exuberance which Fauria felt on Saturday derived from the final event that transpired before he flew back home. Stanford offered the 6'7" 247-pound athlete a scholarship.
"That's actually a pretty funny story," the recruit recalls. "The ending of the Junior Day was to go to the baseball game. Before that, Coach Drevno and Coach [Lance] Anderson told me to hook up with Coach Drevno about a half hour before I leave. The time had come, and I went to Coach Drevno to tell him that I was about to leave. He said, 'Let's take a walk over to Coach [Jim] Harbaugh.' We're on our way, and we had a good talk. Stanford has such a huge campus, that the baseball field to the office was a long walk. That was another good time for me and Coach to build our relationship some more."
"I met with the head coach, and he said with a little chuckle, 'We want you to be our first commit at Stanford.' I said, 'Whoah, Coach, don't I have to be offered a scholarship in order to commit?' He said, 'Whoah.' The head coach has a great personality. That's what I got from him. He went outside kind of surprised and asked one of the assistant coaches, 'Why doesn't Joe Fauria know about his scholarship?' The written offer had been sent out on Friday, and all of the assistant coaches had held out because they wanted me to hear from the head honcho."
"I was really surprised, and I was also honored to be thought of by Stanford because of their academics," Fauria offers. "I really believe in them and that the whole new coaching staff and head coach will turn the program around. I got that vibe. It's really tough after the one-win team last year. To get a good vibe from the coaching staff is really tough, but I really got it and I really believe in them. That would be great to be a part of."
And what did the tall tight end recruit answer to Harbaugh's initial question?
"After the whole little episode when I found out about my scholarship, I shook his hand and said, 'Coach, I'm honored that you guys thought of me. I'm really excited, but right now I don't want to make a decision,'" Fauria recalls. "I was actually kind of tempted after a great day and great experience. I had a smile on my face and kind of wanted to, but my family has to know about this. Of course, when I told my mother, she screamed on the phone. I'm going to visit my uncle and see what he has to say about all of this crazy recruiting. I told [Harbaugh] that I would like to take my five official visits, and right now Stanford would probably be one of those."
Fauria compared notes during and after Stanford's Junior Day with several of his friends also in attendance. He traveled with his quarterback, Kevin Prince, for the weekend. While at Stanford he connected with two other friends who are also among the Southland's top slingers: Ryan Griffin and Dayne Crist. The latter gave Fauria a good ribbing for the win by Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame High School over Crespi in November.
"He was saying, '21-3. 21-3. 21-3.' That was the score in the game. I shoved him, 'It was 21-10 and you know it,'" laughs Fauria, who had a touchdown in the game that was called back on a penalty. "We were kidding around."
"Dayne and I have known each other since we were 10," he continues. "We played on the same basketball team and won fourth place in [AAU] Nationals. We haven't had as much of a relationship in between, but this whole recruiting process is bringing us closer as friends. He's really cool - nothing against him for beating us. I've known his family for a long time, and they're really nice. I wish him well. We do have some scholarships that are alike and we joked about going to school together. He said he would always update me with what's going on, and me the same for him. We text each other. I congratulated him on his recent USC offer, and he texted me after the Junior Day and asked me if I got offered."
"We talked a little during the tour and exchanged our current likes and dislikes," Fauria says. "We got a taste of each other's ideas and thoughts."
At least for Fauria, his thoughts on Stanford were decidedly positive after Saturday.
"I can tell you in one sentence: I couldn't find one bad thing about Stanford as a whole," he declares.
"Actually, wait, there a lot of caterpillars and their webs or silk. My head was hitting a lot of them - there were so many trees at Stanford," Fauria laughs. "But I can deal with that. That was one minor thing, but aside from that it was perfect. I was really, really pleased and just really fulfilled in what I went there looking for."
Noticeably absent is USC, where the 6'7" athlete visited with his grandparents on Sunday for his second Junior Day of the weekend.
"It was okay," Fauria offers. "I had already gone to their first Junior Day, so this was my second time. I had already seen everything, and USC is basically in my backyard. It's not like I haven't been there before."
"I didn't get the same vibe that I got from the Stanford coaching staff," he adds. "They weren't treating me as if they really wanted me to be part of the program like Stanford did. I had a really good time and connection at Stanford with their tight end coach, and I had only like two words with the USC tight ends coach, Brennan Carroll. It was a good Junior Day, but it wasn't what I wanted really."
Fauria is currently in the thick of Crespi's two-week spring break. That is a prime time to make visits to schools, and he indeed is today arriving on the East Coast. Fauria is visiting family rather than a college campus, however. His uncle, Washington Redskins tight end Christian Fauria, along with his aunt and cousins (also his godchildren) are in Boston. The primary motive of the trip is to visit his relatives, but there is also a recruiting component.
"It would be good to explain to my uncle what's going on and see if he can help me a little bit, even though recruiting is so much different than it was 20 years ago," Fauria explains. "It would be good to get some of his insights into colleges and coaches. With his being in the NFL, he has so many connections. It would be good to get some one-on-one time with him and get him caught up on things. I'm also going to show him some basketball films, as well. I have a few dunks on there."
Christian Fauria came from not only a different time, when he too was a tight end at Crespi, but he also possessed a different level of college recruitment. At 6'3" and a skinny 180 pounds, the elder Fauria picked up just a pair of scholarship offers: Northern Arizona and Colorado. Though he may not be able to easily relate to the attention and options that his nephew already has at his disposal 10 months before Signing Day, the uncle can speak authoritatively on how to find success in college and pro football. He was a team captain at Colorado and earned All-American honors before being drafted in the second round. He has enjoyed a 12-year career in the NFL and wears two Super Bowl rings.
Those rings came when Christian Fauria played four years with the New England Patriots. His offensive coordinator was Charlie Weis, now the head coach at Notre Dame. The Irish are one of the younger Fauria's favorite schools, and his uncle will no doubt offer some of his experiences and perspectives while they are together in Beantown.
"After I speak with my uncle, I'm going to call Charlie Weis and see what's going on. He told me to do that," the junior tight end tells us. "I'm going to make sure to give ND a call while I'm in Boston."
It sounds like more news could be coming quickly for Joseph Fauria. His story is one of the hottest in Cardinal recruiting and on the West Coast today, so stay tuned for all of his latest breaking news as it develops.
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)!