Something important transpired on Friday August 17 for Stanford Football. Not only did the Cardinal conduct their first live scrimmage this fall in Stanford Stadium, but they also received an unofficial visit from an interesting recruit who has suddenly emerged as one of their top prospects in the Class of 2009. Bay Area native Shayne Skov, who last year shipped across the country to Pawling (N.Y.) Trinity-Pawling School, came to watch the closed scrimmage and meet the players and coaches of the Stanford program.
By the end of the day, Skov walked away with one of Stanford's first scholarship offers for 2009.
"On my unofficial [visit], even though it's not official until it's in writing, they said that they would offer my on September 1, when they can officially start recruiting me as a junior," Skov says. "I'll actually be there that day for the UCLA game, and depending on the rules, they might be able to give me the actual paper."
"Me and my family - we're all ecstatic. It's basically where I want to be, at a D-I program with top academics. Stanford is just what I'm looking for, and it's also close to home," the recruit reacts. "It's the best of both worlds, basically, so I would be ecstatic to go there."
The 6'2.5" linebacker/safety prospect says that Notre Dame, Northwestern, Harvard, Yale and Princeton are the next highest schools on his early list. For now, the Piedmont (Calif.) product is enthused coming off his visit to The Farm.
"I enjoy and actually like the coaching staff because they seem aggressive," Skov assesses. "They want to turn the program around, which is something I like, with their hands-on attitude and approach they have out there. I was also talking with the defensive coordinator, along with the linebackers coach, and it seems like the scheme they use likes a quicker, more aggressive linebacking corps. That's something that portrays a lot of my traits and abilities."
Skov was a 6'1" 190-pound cornerback at this time a year ago for the Trinity-Pawling Pride, though he has grown considerably and tips the scales today at 6'2.5" and 222 pounds. His days as a cover corner are over, and he might be growing his way out of the defensive backfield not only for the remainder of his high school career, but also for his future at the next level.
"I don't care as long as I get onto the field," Skov maintains. I bring an aggressive attitude to the position. I'm looking to come into college probably at 235 pounds or 240. Linebacker or safety? I doesn't matter because I can play either one."
While playing cornerback last fall as a sophomore, Skov recorded 35 tackles on defense in his team's eight-game season. He also played a slot receiver/H-back role on offense and caught 27 passes for 400 yards and three touchdowns.
"Last year, at the time, I was smaller," he explains. "And our team is large out there because we regularly have D-I players - we're at a prep school. I'm guessing I was the second smallest kid on the defense, so I was playing cornerback that year. This year I will play either outside linebacker, strong safety or free safety. I don't know until I get back out there."
"We run a three-back offense, like the wishbone offense essentially," Skov says of his offensive role. "I was used as a blocking back as well as running passing routes from the slot position. I was basically playing wide receiver and the wing in that offense."
Though he has played only his sophomore year of high school football, Skov's film already made a strong impression on the Cardinal coaching staff. He says that defensive coordinator Scott Shafer, linebackers coach Andy Buh and head coach Jim Harbaugh all watched his tape together on that Friday and shared with him their evaluations and excitement.
"They really like the fact that I use my hands well. On tape, I'm throwing blockers off to go make tackles," the recruit reports. "As well as the fact that I was playing corner that year, and they liked my feet. I'm very quick with my hips and my lower body, which lets me stay with receivers very well. Also, when I was making tackles, I was really explosive and was coming in with a lot of aggressiveness."
Skov's family story is an interesting one. His father is a Cal alumnus, which on paper might appear to work against Stanford's chances. Peter Skov, however, grew up quite the Cardinal fan, with his father and grandfather both Stanford men. Shayne's great-grandfather in fact won the Pacific Coast Conference high hurdles back in 1931 for Stanford. The youngest Skov wears that medal around his neck as a constant reminder of his goals for athletic and academic achievement.
More unexpected is the travels that Skov's path has taken in his young life. He was born and raised in San Francisco, where he lived until his family moved to Mexico in the sixth grade. It was South of the Border, in fact, where Skov first learned the game of American football.
"It was actually pretty tough and hard-nosed football, surprisingly enough," he says.
Though his parents remain in Guadalajara, he moved back to the Bay Area to start high school in Piedmont, before zipping across the country to Trinity-Pawling.
As a sophomore at the prep school last year, Skov earned a 3.3 unweighted GPA with a rigorous course load. He has not yet taken the SAT, but his PSAT projects a score of at least 1900.
"I realize that I have to put the effort into the classroom in order to make it to that level of academic institution," Skov opines. "Last year I took two AP classes, and this year I'll be taking four. I got a 'five' on AP Spanish, and I got a 'four' on the AP exam for U.S. history.
With his academic and athletic credentials already established, along with strong family ties to The Farm, could there be an early commitment to the Cardinal in the works for Skov?
"If it's the right match and it's going to work, then definitely," he says.
Recruiting is a difficult road to navigate currently, however. Not only has text messaging been abolished by the NCAA, but also schools are unable to initiate any form of communication with a prospective student-athlete prior to September 1 of his junior year of high school. That means no recruiting mailings, as well as no email correspondence. The only way Skov can talk with Stanford today is if he comes onto their campus or if he picks up the phone to give them a call.
"It's tricky," he laments. "Basically at this point, we'll occasionally call the coaches and tell them how we feel. But they can't call us or contact us. We're just waiting for that [September 1] deadline to pass so that we can communicate regularly. It's somewhat frustrating, but we take it in stride because I still have two more years of football in high school."
While he is not yet able to hear from college coaches, Skov is starting to do his part to increase his exposure to the schools where he holds interest. His name and story will not remain under the radar much longer.
"I just sent out my tape to basically all of the top-level academic schools who have D-I football programs," Skov says. "Because there are more schools back east, like the Ivy Leagues and Northwestern, it's easier for me to take unofficials because they're close to my school."
"There are also a lot of D-I players in my league, so there are scouts out there," he adds. "For instance, this kid Mike Cox plays for a rival school, and he'll be going to Michigan. The talent is out there, so the coaches will be coming to look at us. We'll see how it goes."
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