To be honest, it wasn't a surprising decision. Laguna Hills offensive lineman Preston Clover had declared himself 95% sure that he would attend Stanford if accepted by the admissions office - and that came before he even took his official visit on December 6. So when Cardinal head coach Buddy Teevens left a message on the Clover machine on December 11, the return call came swiftly. As Clover recounts, the exchange was pretty quick and to the point.
Teevens: "You're in." (refering to the Stanford
Clover: "Then I'm in."
Teevens: "Are you sure you don't want to take any time on this decision?"
The heralded Orange County lineman was so sure of his decision that he cancelled his impending official visit to Oregon scheduled for the 13th. His interest came up and down the West Coast, including firm offers from the Ducks, Washington State, UCLA and Colorado State. The offer from the nearby Bruins came just a week before Bob Toledo was fired, but he says an assistant coach called him later to assure him that UCLA still very much wanted him in Westwood. But regardless of who courted the Laguna Hill senior, he had his sights set on the Cardinal from Day One.
"It's always kind of been the school I wanted to go to - I'm stoked," explains and exclaims the excited lineman. "I went to camp at Stanford after my freshman year. Man, it is just such a beautiful campus - it's huge!"
Despite his effervescent attitude toward the Cardinal, Clover was very careful through the recruiting process to not turn any school down. Until he heard back the good word from Stanford admissions, he knew he had to keep his options open. That wasn't always easy when coaches came calling. He described one instance when a Yale coach visited his school, and his Laguna coach asked him if he wanted to get rid of the Ivy League man. Clover was shocked on more than one level.
"I told him no way. I didn't want to send the guy away, but also never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my coach would by sending away Yale."
When Stanford and Yale are prowling around, you know the young man has a strong academic profile. And with a 1260 SAT and 4.1 GPA, on top of his position as student body president at Laguna Hills, few are surprised that he was admitted to The Farm.
On his official visit to Stanford, Clover still had some items to examine, explaining that he "had a little concern that it might be too academic - too serious." What he found on the early December visit was a campus of students that surprised him.
"All of them were great people," he opined. "Even the non-athletes. They were so cool and relaxed." His time with his host Brian Head, as well as Julian Jenkins helped a good deal. Jenkins, a true freshman, helped to assuage a lot of his concerns about life at Stanford. "He was a really cool guy. He talked about the freshman experience, including what classes are like. He made a pretty big impression."
The other impactful experience of the weekend was the Sunday brunch with the Stanford faculty, where professors from all over the University were matched with the interests of prospective recruits. Clover says that he spent 90 minutes talking with Professor William C. Dement all about sleep. Dr. Dement is of course a leading authority on sleep disorders and sleep medicine, though the high school senior didn't know that. He just thought it was "so cool" and "pretty unique."
Preston Clover fills a unique need in this class, at the center position on the O-line. Though he did not play a single snap at center this senior year of high school, he says that Stanford offensive line coach Steve Morton likes Clover there. Morton has told him that he sees the combination of hand-eye coordination and his quick feet as a great recipe for the position. The 6'4" 265-pound interior lineman also played goalkeeper in soccer for several years, which the Stanford staff believes is a headline qualification for a center resumé. Clover had to stop playing soccer after a major concussion in a game last year, where he sat down on the field and did not know where he was or what he was doing. The referee removed him from the game, but Clover would be without any short term memory for the next 40 hours. He lost memory of all events for a seven hour period surrounding the concussion.
As a side note, his grandmother attended Stanford in the graduating class of 1940, and his grandfather went to USC. Preston bought them a matching set of Stanford windbreakers for Christmas.