Already sitting on commitments from a quartet of high-profile tight ends in Levine Toilolo, Zach Ertz, Ryan Hewitt, and Brock Sanders, Stanford added another in Jordan Najvar from Spring (Tex.) Klein Oak HS when the big-bodied Texan committed on Monday afternoon. The 3-star tight end is ranked by Scout.com as the #18 tight end prospect in the country, giving Stanford pledges from four of the top 13 tight ends who have committed to date, including two of the top three. In speaking to The Bootleg on Monday night, Stanford's newest tight end commit described the process that led to his decision.
"I visited there this weekend," Najvar says of Stanford. "I was there this weekend. I had my list down to like Stanford, Cal, [Texas] A&M, Arizona, Arizona State. Then after visiting I had a good relationship with Coach [Tim] Drevno and out there the coaches were great. I love Coach [Jim] Harbaugh, Coach [Andy] Buh, Coach Drevno. They recruited me hard, just telling me that I was a top guy and that they are taking the best no matter what. Basically they said the best are playing and I'm not (worried) - that's how I felt. I know they have a couple of other tight ends signed but I'm not scared to compete with anybody. I figure I want to go to the school where I want to be there for four or five years. And just hanging out with the players Saturday night like Andrew Luck and Mike Thomas kind of made a difference and stuff like that."
With the apparent surplus of tight ends committed to Stanford, Cardinal fans have understandably begun contemplating alternative positions for any who do not stick at tight end and citing historical examples of high school tight ends who have contributed at the college level as H-backs, offensive tackles, offensive guards, defensive ends, or even at other positions. That logic begs the question, have the Stanford coaches broached that possibility with Najvar?
"No, they said I was one of the true tight ends that fit their system," he shares. "I'm like a hybrid flex tight end. They can see me playing multiple positions at the tight end position -motioning, playing the slot, and playing the true tight end spot. There's a lot that they can do with me that can help their offense."
While Najvar sees himself as a true tight end, the flexibility he claims suggests multiple possible uses in a potential Stanford offense, a situation that might apply for a number of the tight ends in the class. Moreover, Stanford faces a gaping hole in the lower classes at tight end and apparently sees the 2009 recruiting class as made-to-order in filling that hole.
"They basically didn't recruit any tight ends in the last couple of years' classes, the old coaching staff," Najvar points out. "When my incoming class gets there basically they're all going to be seniors. So they just said it's an open door, just basically they want playmakers. They're trying to get guys like me that just have a passion for the game and just want to be making plays. You have to compete anywhere. I know that with the lack they have - and I know there are multiple guys going in with me - you have to compete everywhere. So I'm just ready to compete and hopefully get on the field early."
As Najvar points out, Stanford faces an impending lack of tight ends once Jim Dray, Austin Gunder, and Tom McAndrew complete their eligibility. Even incoming Notre Dame transfer Konrad Reuland only has one season left after the upcoming campaign unless he takes a redshirt year, in which case he will have two seasons left. Taken together, these circumstances create a massive need for tight ends in the 2009 class for Stanford. Although some may view the extent of the stockpiling at the position so far this year extreme, it is clearly being done in that context to answer a very real and present need.
In terms of Najvar specifically, he believes he brings a relatively complete package to the table for Stanford but specifically cites his speed as his primary attribute.
"I think my strength is right now I'm probably 6-6, 240 and especially I feel with my speed, I've been clocked under 4.6 in the 40 multiple times and stuff like that," he claims. "Basically the speed I bring to it, being able to stretch the field, just being able to make plays most of the time when I get the ball in my hands."
"You know, I didn't really play that much tight end last year," Najvar reflects in discussing himself. "I've always been a receiver/shifty guy but when I put on some weight I filled that tight end hybrid. The blocking on the line took getting used to, but now I feel this spring I've just been working hard on that. I feel that my whole game right now is complete. But there's always room for improvement everywhere. You can never be too good."
Najvar acknowledges greater experience and comfort in the receiving aspect of the game but confidently claims aptitude in the blocking aspects of the position as well.
"My natural strongpoint is my receiving but I can block as good as anybody," he states before explaining what he thinks appeals to the Stanford coaches about him. "They basically loved the way - when they came down to watch a practice - they loved the way that I got after it. They say they want players like that that can just get on the field and get the job done."
Najvar played as a junior last year for the powerhouse Klein Oak Panthers team that went 10-2 in storied Class 5A in Texas, but he was not a primary option on a team that featured Desean Hales and Terrence Robinson, a pair of 4-star recruits who signed in February with Texas and Michigan respectively.
"Last year I was kind of third-tier," Najvar explains. "I had some rushes at quarterback and stuff. We kind of use the quarterbacks running. I had like 80 yards rushing and I had 200 yards receiving. But the main guys were Desean and Terrence. But this year, basically, you'll see me everywhere on the field from running back to quarterback to receiver, then when they need a tight end I'll be playing tight end. So basically I'm just going to be used all over the field and let the coaches use my versatility in getting me the ball."
With the graduation of Hales and Robinson, who combined for over 3,000 yards rushing and also gobbled up the lion's share of the touches in the passing game as well, Najvar believes that his Klein Oak team will pass the ball more in 2008 and consequently exploit his abilities in the receiving game.
"We'll definitely be passing this year a lot because we had Desean and Terrence last year and only threw 10 times a game last year ," he predicts. "This year we'll probably throw about 25. We're been working on it. We're bringing in the no-huddle attack so we should be an up-tempo team just basically catching teams off guard. This year we already have six guys with D-I offers, three of us are committed. There's about six more getting looks. So our team is definitely a force to be reckoned with."
Though Najvar did not necessarily get a chance to touch the ball much as a junior on his high-powered Panthers squad, he is clearly confident about his abilities and his chance to shine as a junior. That confidence is notably backed up by "around 25 offers." He cites Cal, Texas A&M, Arizona, and Arizona State as the other schools he had been strongly considering before committing to Stanford. In addition, he also highlights offers from Miami, Missouri, Nebraska, Virginia, Kansas State, Iowa State, Kansas, Purdue, and Oregon. Even for a team as loaded with 2009 tight end prospects as Stanford is, that offer list jumps off the page.
Next up for Jordan Najvar is the Stanford admissions process, which he has discussed with the Stanford coaches. He claims a 4.6 grade point average on his school's 6.0 scale.
"My transcript they say is good but they just want me to take the SAT again just for that purpose," Najvar confirms regarding the need to clear Stanford's hurdles for admission. "But they said everything is good. I've got my schedule down, they're sending me the application to get ready to fill out, my GPA is high enough, I'm in all APs and prep classes, and I have all As and Bs on my transcript. They told me no problem getting in, I've just got to take the SAT one more time and I'll be good to go."
He has also taken the SAT but plans to take it again in order to strengthen his case for admission to Stanford.
"I took it once, scored like a 1600 on it," he says of the SAT. "They just want me to take it again. It's basically one of those things, you know, you don't want to regret anything, so just taking it. You'd rather be safe than sorry."
Jordan Najvar is the tenth public commitment to Stanford in the 2009 class.
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 award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!