TheBootleg.com spoke with Jarek Lancaster, a three-star senior linebacker from San Antonio, Texas, earlier this week. Upon receiving his acceptance to Stanford Wednesday, Lancaster immediately switched his commitment from Rice to the Cardinal.
Rice offers one of the best educational opportunities in the country, but the decision to switch from the Owls to the Cardinal was fairly straightforward. Lancaster explains his thinking to The Bootleg:
"I made the switch [Wednesday] because I couldn't pass up the opportunity for Pac-10 football and an awesome education. You don't get better than a Stanford education and the football you play in the Pac-10. I'm from Orange County [Trabuco Canyon], so it's a homecoming of sorts to go back.
"They offered me in June and I turned them down because I didn't know if I wanted to leave the state. But they came back a month later and said do the application; it leaves you with an option. I did the application, weighed my options and decided if I get in, I would go to Stanford."
In a matter of months then, Lancaster completely reversed course, not seriously considering Stanford at first, and then all but committing to the Card, contingent on admission, months later. Why the change?
"The main thing was going out of state," Lancaster explained. "I didn't know if I really wanted to leave my family; we're close-knit. But they sat me down and they said, 'Jarek, listen, we never had the opportunity to attend a school as prestigious as Stanford, so don't you dare pass it up because you don't want to go out of state.' With that out of the equation, the pros far outweighed the cons, and I couldn't pass it up."
Of course, a non-trivial hurdle remained: Lancaster still had to get admitted. Lancaster, a member of the Texas All-State Academics team, reports a 4.0 GPA and a 1760 SAT (1100 two-part). Thus, he states that when he submitted his Stanford application about three weeks ago, he and the Stanford coaches were reasonably optimistic.
"They were confident I'd get in, but they didn't want me to decommit on a 'maybe' ," Lancaster said. "As soon as they got the word, they'd call me and I'd decommit on the spot. They got back [Wednesday] that I was in, and so I decided to go there instead of Rice.
"It was awesome. Coach Harbaugh gave me a call and told me I was in. He was at my house the night before, hoping they had the answer. It was pretty exciting. My whole family is on cloud nine; we're real fired up to be part of the Stanford family."
In the classroom, Lancaster says he thinks he'd like to study engineering, but is unsure of his exact academic path. On the field, Lancaster says the Stanford coaches also could see him in multiple roles.
"They like my versatility," he said. "They're going to play me at safety when I first come in, then maybe move me down to OLB. They like my high motor and long wingspan, and mentioned my character too, from talking to coaches and teachers. They said I was the perfect candidate to be a Stanford Cardinal."
If a move from safety to linebacker is in Lancaster's future, it'll be nothing compared to the position switches he underwent in high school.
"Last year I played linebacker and was All-City," he said. "This year, we were without a quarterback, so I played quarterback. I did pretty well: 23 touchdowns, and almost 1,000 yards rushing and passing. We went to the second round of the playoffs."
Sure enough, Lancaster led Sandra Day O'Connor HS to an 8-4 finish, despite breaking his throwing hand in the season opener. He added that the move to quarterback in an option-read offense played to his strengths.
"I think it showcased leadership, being about team and not about me as an individual," he said. "I think that's something [Stanford] liked, my leadership and not being self-centered. I think I showcased my speed too."
"Coach Dalman came down over spring ball," he said. "I talked to him a lot. Coach Dalman and Coach Buh both came on visits, and Coach Harbaugh just came down and visited. I'm also going up for the official visit this Jan. 8."
Even though the Stanford staff doesn't need to recruit Lancaster actively anymore now that he's committed, his phone has been just as busy, with fellow Class of 2009 commits doing their part to welcome Lancaster to the Cardinal family.
Stanford fans can only hope that the growing group of 2009 commits remains close off the field. If so, it's that much more likely that, on the field, they'll form the nucleus of a strong and tight-knit team for years to come.
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