One-on-one with RB Tyler Gaffney

One of Stanford's latest and greatest catches in its outstanding 2009 class was highly decorated San Diego RB Tyler Gaffney. The Bootleg caught up with Gaffney, who, in an exclusive interview, presents fans with an inside look at the recruiting process: his timeline, his second-choice school (it's probably not who you think), how he arrived at his decision, and how all his visits went. Enjoy!

On his recruiting timeline:
I got first contacted by Stanford probably over a year ago. Right after Signing Day last year. I was really excited because that was my first offer. I didn't know what to think, because I hadn't been recruited before, but then it went down that I got offers from here and there. I took in the Junior Day last year at Stanford and liked it, but they told me my grades weren't the greatest and I needed a lot of work on that. So I went through and got in this year and met the requirements for GPA. I had to get mostly A's and maybe some B's. I had to raise my SAT a lot and I got a 1970 on that [on retake]. And then we went through the official visit with the rest of recruits on Big Visit weekend, and I met with all the coaches and Admissions just to see how I was looking. I came home two days later and they told me I got in. I was really excited and then I had to make decision between there and Notre Dame. I went on the whiteboard [to compare] and there was no comparison. I wanted to go to Stanford.

On what he wrote on his whiteboard:
Everything possible. The fan base. The academics. Coaches. Other players. Weather. So many things went up there. Stanford definitely overweighed one side.

On Stanford's biggest strength:
The coaches, the players and the family: the school.

Stanford's biggest weakness:
I don't know. Probably at first, I was a little intimidated about how hard the academics were. Plus, I had decided to play two sports. But I talked a lot with Toby [Gerhart], and he told me it was not that bad. He does both sports obviously. And then that'd be it for things that gave me pause.

On his second-choice school:
I would have been at Notre Dame, definitely. I kind of put USC out of the picture.

On why USC wasn't in his top two:
I don't know. I always felt like I'd been a little different than anyone. I didn't feel that was the most comfortable place. It was just a general feeling. It was that I felt better at other places, not that I felt worse there.

On why he kept USC on his short list:
Well, I felt more comfortable with them than with every other school, but less so compared to Stanford and Notre Dame. I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything or miscommunicating anything, so I didn't want to cut them out right away.

On seeing Toby star at two sports at Stanford:
It was huge. I wouldn't go to the school if I weren't able to do it. It definitely helped made me feel like it's going to work. How is it not going to? They're already doing it.

On what Stanford told him about his grades:
It wasn't specific; they just told me, 'we're going to need better grades out of you.' They knew I had the potential. They wanted to see the outcome. My grades at the time were probably in the 3.3, 3.4 area. But I raised them pretty well. I think I had a 3.6 overall. All of [the coaches discussed it]. They all threw it in there, that my grades needed to get better. Mainly Coach [Lance] Anderson.

On Stanford's in-home visits:
Nothing really stood out. I had fun with all the coaches that came. I played Madden [video game] with Coach [Willie] Taggart. All the coaches were a lot of fun, especially when Coach Harbaugh came over for dinner. We watched the California State Game for high school.

On his official visits:
I only went to Notre Dame officially. It was fun, lots of tradition. But Stanford, I just felt more comfortable that I could go to this place. Just overall, I can come here and not feel like I'm changing. I just feel like I'm moving up.

On the fact that several of Stanford's Big Visit recruits have signed elsewhere:
I don't know – the weekend went really well. Everyone's different. Some want to put forth the effort and get into Stanford and others don't. Most of players there could have gone to other schools and not have to have filled out an application. That application is a strenuous thing.

On whether other schools mentioned the possibility of Coach Harbaugh leaving:
I heard about it. I talked to him and once I did, I wasn't worried at all. I knew exactly where he was coming from. His brother was in it [the NFL] and I think he was just interested. His brother's in the business. He wanted to see how the process went. He just wanted to see how it was.

On early playing time:
The coaches have talked to me about it. I have to prove myself. I have to prove I'm a running back and not a fullback. I'm going to come in and do the best I can. Hopefully that'll be good enough to get some playing time.

On playing time in baseball:
They definitely need outfielders, and I'm an outfielder. I feel good: you have to have as mature a body for baseball as for football, so I figure it could go well in that aspect.

On his future plans:
I want to play one of those sports professionally. I don't know which one. At Stanford, I hope to study communications. I want to do broadcasting, or maybe be a lobbyist.


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