Stanford and Jim Harbaugh on Wednesday landed a big commitment, figuratively and literally, in 6'5" wide receiver Warren Reuland. The Mission Viejo (Calif.) High School junior had originally planned on making his college decision during the summer but felt compelled in April to end his search.
"I talked to Coach Harbaugh first because I wanted to let the head coach know," says Reuland. "I talked to him, and he was really excited when I told him. He said, 'I can't even tell you how happy I am right now. I think you'll be such a great fit.' He was getting really excited about it. Then after I talked to him, I called Coach [Tim] Drevno, and I let him know. He was very excited, too."
"I wanted to make [the decision] before the end of the summer, but after seeing the Stanford campus and everything, I just knew that was the place for me," he explains. I didn't want to wait any longer because I knew I'd want to go there. I didn't want to let that opportunity of the scholarship they offered me pass me by."
Reuland visited the Cardinal campus just 12 days earlier with his parents, and that single experience sent him hurling toward his commitment.
"When I was up there, I just loved it," he explains. "After meeting the coaching staff, watching practice and talking with professors, it just clicked that I could see myself going there. I could fit in really well there at that university."
"Then I talked to my parents and my coach about it," Reuland relates. "They gave me some input, and I just decided that I want to go to Stanford."
The reason the Mission Viejo man did not pull the trigger a week ago, in the immediate aftermath of his visit, was a scheduled trip to Notre Dame this past weekend. Older brother Konrad Reuland is heading into his second year as a tight end for the Irish. The younger Reuland had his heart set on the Cardinal but respectfully delayed the commitment until this week.
"I pretty much had this in my mind before I went out there," he admits. "Konrad was really happy for me, actually. He said that it's a great school, and he just congratulated me. He wasn't mad about it at all. He was just really happy for me."
Despite a national recruitment that was only going to heat up in May and June, Reuland felt confident in the Cardinal fit. Jim Harbaugh and his new staff made a tremendous impression and led his heart in this commitment.
"It was the coaching staff," Reuland explains. "Watching their practice, it was really intense. It looked like they were having a good time. I think they'll turn it around. And the academics there - you can't beat that anywhere else. Both of those things played a big part in my decision."
"I looked at the offense, too," he adds. "I know that they run a pro style offense. Coach Harbaugh is a quarterback, so I know that they are going to throw the ball a lot. Watching their offense in practice, it looked like a good system for me to be in."
Reuland's ultimate decision may or may not surprise. The timing is what caught observers off guard. The Mission Viejo junior has been an Orange County standout and long regarded as an elite prospect. In the 2005 season when Warren was a sophomore and Konrad was ranked the #1 tight end recruit in the nation as a senior, many who watched the Diablos called Warren the better college prospect. Then last November, Warren tore his ACL late in his junior season.
The injury understandably put on the breaks for many schools who were prepared to offer the 6'5" athlete. Conventional wisdom called for a "wait and see" approach, evaluating Reuland in his post-injury form. Mission Viejo will start their spring practices on May 14, less than three weeks from now and in the heart of the NCAA evaluation period. College coaches across the country make a point to stop by the Orange County campus, and Reuland would have had his chance to prove that he is every bit the playmaker that was displayed before his injury. He was also invited to college camps in June.
Yet Reuland pulled the trigger on his commitment before his offer coffer had a chance to overflow. He says that the Cardinal's confidence in offering him in early February played an important role. Just as Stanford felt no need to wait on Reuland, he felt no reason to wait on them.
"It definitely showed that they believed in me and that I would work hard and get my knee better," he explains. "It really did play a part in my decision because they were my first offer."
Reuland has indeed been hard at work rehabilitating his knee and updates that progress:
"I've been running on the field," he says. "My therapist comes down with me, and I was actually doing some cutting yesterday. I was doing a bunch of hard stuff: agility, cutting and running. I should be back 100 percent in spring ball."
The timing of Reuland's commitment is unexpected, considering his injury and the options certain to open for him in May and June. However, that is not the true surprise with Wednesday's news. The bigger story is Warren Reuland committing before he has begun the Stanford admissions application process, which is far from a formality in Cardinal recruiting. Admissions in fact was the primary determinant in Konrad Reuland's college decision. The older brother held Stanford as his number one choice until his application was denied, leading him to subsequently commit to Notre Dame.
The family was frustrated and scarred by the experience, which left little doubt in our minds that the younger Reuland would dot all i's and cross all t's with his Stanford acceptance before possibly pledging to the Cardinal. Surprisingly, he is bucking history and taking a public plunge into the deep end - with no lifeguard on duty.
"They can give out five early applications in May to some recruits," Reuland explains. "They want me to fill out an early application. I should be either accepted or not by the time my last transcript of this year comes out."
Mission Viejo finishes the school year on June 21.
"What happened with him is that he transferred schools after his freshman year, so he didn't have the right credits," he comments on Konrad's admissions shortfall. "They made sure to tell me exactly what classes I need to take. I'm confident that taking the right classes, I'll get in. I have good grades, so I don't think they'll deny me."
The younger Reuland does carry a substantially stronger transcript and higher test score than his brother. Warren notched a 4.4 weighted GPA in the fall semester at Mission Viejo and owns a cumulative 4.2 GPA. He is currently taking honors precalculus and German IV AP. Recently Reuland scored a strong 1920 on the SAT, more than 300 points higher than his brother's reported score.
That all said, Reuland will prudently keep communication lines open with his current slate of suitors while he navigates the Stanford admissions process.
"I'm still going to talk to them, and I'm still going to keep in touch with everyone," Reuland reveals. "I called the coaches today who have offered me, and they were really understanding. They congratulated me and wished me the best. But I'll definitely keep in touch with those schools until I'm admitted."
The admissions realities of Stanford are not to be ignored, but Reuland is today putting that in the back of his mind. His exuberance for his Cardinal commitment still rules the moment.
"I'm extremely excited. Now I get to focus on rehabbing my knee and just getting better, stronger, faster," he says. "It feels good to have this taken care of and to be committed - to know where I'm going to school for college."
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