One-on-one with OG Khalil Wilkes

The Bootleg's Daniel Novinson interviewed Khalil Wilkes the very day New Jersey's three-star offensive guard became Commit No. 20 in Stanford's 2009 recruiting class. There are some real gems in here for the Stanford diehards, and so we're reproducing the entire transcript for our premium subscribers. Enjoy!

On deciding to attend Stanford:
I just felt very comfortable with the school. Of course, I love the academics, but the thing that brought me over the top is I see where the football program is going. It's on an upward trend for a couple of years now. A great class is coming in, and we signed a pretty good class last year. With the guys 5-7 last year against a very good Pac-10 schedule and tough teams like TCU, I'm very confident in our future. I just want to contribute and could not pass the opportunity up to attend not only one of the best universities, but also something I found very special.

On when he decided to attend Stanford:
Beginning the process, I was only looking at schools out East, but when I got a Stanford scholarship (offer), I could tell a Stanford scholarship, from my parents' reaction, was good to have. I didn't know much other than it was a good academic school, and then from other people, whenever I said Stanford, they'd tell me what a great school it was and that I shouldn't pass up the opportunity.

So I took a visit in July and saw the place, the support system there and everything like that. I loved it at the time, but still liked other schools and was still looking at other ones. But after looking again at my second visit [Big Visit] and talking with my family, I just had to commit.

On whether he'd known for awhile he was going to end up at Stanford:
No. I always liked Stanford, but I also liked other schools also. I didn't [silently] commit beforehand like some people thought.

On whether it was harder turning down Rutgers or Wake Forest:
Both were extremely hard to turn down. I couldn't say which one was harder. But it was hard to turn down Rutgers not only because it's a great school – my parents both went there and it's a great home – but I also like where the program's going under Coach Schiano, one of the best in the business. I like the players out there. That was hard.

Wake was also really hard because they probably recruited me the hardest of all the schools. They're a great academic school with great athletics also. Coach Grobe and the staff are probably one of the best in the country. It's hard to turn down an opportunity to play under him, but I thought Stanford was great also. I knew I'd be making a great choice whichever way I went.

On how he decided:
I made a list of pros and cons. Just thinking about it, I felt, when I was done with that list, that Stanford stood on top and that's what helped me toward my decision. I did that right after the Wake Forest visit. I laid out pros and cons for all the schools I visited.

On Stanford's pros:
The academics, everyone knows about that. But over there, I meet people not only from all over the country, but also from the whole world. I thought that was great. The diversity was great, which I really love. There were people from all over the place.

I loved the Professors. Every single one was very experienced in their fields, which I thought was very important. I liked the structure of the school, with a quarter system instead of semesters. When I was on my official visit, I talked to people who already go there and they seemed very down to earth. I got to meet a lot of East Coast people, which was very important. It let me know that the transition from East to West wasn't that hard for them because of the fun and support they had.

Another pro was Coach Harbaugh. I think he's a great coach. I'd love to play for him. He's very high-energy and willing to talk to players about anything. I thought that was very important. And the campus is extremely beautiful.

Probably the No. 1 thing was the fact that everyone who goes there pretty much already has in mind their future. They're all striving to be the best person they can possibly be. If I'm not going to class with some of the best athletes, I'm going with some of the best students, people who are going to affect this world in the years to come. Just looking at the alumni base, you never know -- the person sitting next to you in class could be the next President or Senator or CEO. Everyone over there is going to be successful. I want to be with those types of people.

On whether talk of Jim Harbaugh leaving Stanford affected his thought process:
No. Really the whole time I was looking at any school, I tried to realize that you never know -- coaches can leave or retire or get hurt or something like that. I was more focused on the school than anything. I know we have a great AD and in the rare event Coach Harbaugh leaves, I'm 100 percent confident he'll provide us with a great coach. If worst comes to worst, Stanford's not too bad to rely on.

On whether his thought process was similar when he heard OL Coach Dalman was leaving:
Yeah. It was a great shock because that same morning I writing my pros and cons and he was a pro, so it worried me a little bit. But I wanted to see if Coach Harbaugh would let me know first and call and let me know who my new OL coach is. And he did make sure to.

My new OL coach saw me and was around my family. His personality isn't too far off from Coach Dalman's. He should be from within the staff. [Ed. - we will presume KW is referring to current TE coach Tim Drevno, who may well end up coaching guards & centers].

On the recruiting process coming to a close:
I'm very glad. The recruiting process is fun and I wanted to enjoy it because you only go through it once. It was great going through visits. I met great people. But I'm not going to lie. I'm very glad it's over. I can think about school 100 percent of the time and get prepared to play in the Pac-10 and win championships.

On being just the second OL commit in Stanford's 2009 class:
That doesn't make me nervous at all. I'm very confident in our offensive line. We had a pretty good class last year of OL, so we've got great guys. This year, it's me and Kevin Danser. I saw his high school tape and from what I heard he's a great player also. I wouldn't be surprised if we brought in one more guy to cap it off. Coach Harbaugh can see talent and if he sees it, he's going to give a guy a scholarship, and hopefully they'll come. I'm not worried at all about the OL in years to come.

His message to the Stanford fans:
Watch out for the Stanford football team! We're not just there for academics now. We're there for the whole thing. We want to win Pac-10 championships and we're not going to settle for anything short. We're not going to settle for being second to USC or Oregon or any of the other guys. We want to be No. 1 and that's it. That can only happen with our hard work and the fans' support.


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