"I called Coach Harbaugh and gave him a verbal commitment," Cole Underwood said. "He was excited. I'm sure he realizes that this recruiting class in 2010 is going to be special. I'm sure he feels like he's putting some pieces to the puzzle together, so he was excited, and we were all excited here as well."
Underwood picked Stanford because he felt it possesses a rare balance of excellent academics and high-caliber football.
"When it came down to picking a school, what I was looking for was a place that can develop me," Underwood said. "What Stanford University has that so many schools out there lack, especially Division I schools, is a balance of the highest academics and the highest level of football. You can get the best of both worlds from Stanford."
And while news of Underwood's commitment to Stanford didn't come as a total surprise, it did come sooner than many Cardinal fans may have anticipated. Just a few weeks ago, after participating in Stanford's Junior Day, Underwood told The Bootleg that he hoped to make a college decision sometime during his senior year.
"I think what really changed is it got to the point I realized there were some schools I just was not interested in," Underwood said. "Then, there were some schools I couldn't stop thinking about, like Stanford, and my thing is I'm not going to lead any schools on. I really, really thought about it before I made the commitment, and I realized that it was the best fit for my situation. I said I'm going to go through the process; however, I'm not going to drag it out. When it's right, it's right, and I just felt like the time was right now."
Underwood's decision to pledge to Stanford over offers from four in-state colleges was supported by his entire family.
"They were behind me 100 percent of the way," Underwood said. "My mom's always been about the degree -- she wants what's best for after college. My dad went through the recruiting process when he was in high school with basketball, so he knows what to look for. Because of the things that he went through, he knows what would be a good fit for me because he knows my personality and knows what I'm capable of doing. He wanted me to go to the best school possible. He felt like that was Stanford, my mom felt like it was Stanford, and so did I."
Underwood, who was recruited by wide receiver coach and offensive coordinator David Shaw, will start at right tackle for Guyer next year, the same position he anticipates playing in college.
"The coaching staff would like me to start at right tackle, from what I understand," Underwood said. "As far as that being my permanent position, there's really no way you can tell that. It really depends on how you develop and what their places of need are. From what I understand, tackle is the main position and the only secondary position I've even heard come out of Coach Harbaugh's mouth was possibly tight end, but I highly doubt that at this point."
Part of what appealed to the Stanford staff about Underwood is that he has the frame to play multiple positions along the offensive line, but also has the athleticism and quick feet to be a tight end.
"Really my footwork, being able to move, and finishing blocks is what a lot of people tell me they like about my game," Underwood said. "I feel like I play relentlessly on the field, and I want to bring that to Stanford."
But before Underwood steps on the field for Cardinal, he will first need to gain admission to the university. He currently reports a 1580 three-part SAT score that, "from what I understand is a good enough score," and will learn of his updated GPA in about two weeks.
"I knew about the application process before I committed," the future sports finance or sports management major said. "I know what we're going to have to go through with the application and I'm just going to get it done. I took AP classes this year and that curriculum strength helps me a lot with gaining admission. Next year, I plan on doing the same thing - I'm not going to slack off. I plan on having a good senior year, challenging myself in the classroom, and getting the work done."
Aside from plugging away on the application, Underwood hopes to use his senior year to be a leader in the classroom and to help lead his team to a coveted state title.
"I can tell right now I want to be a leader in the classroom as well as in the field," Underwood said. "I committed to Stanford University and that says a lot. I'm going to try to show that I'm a Stanford student. "Also, on the field we were one game away from being in the state championship last year and my main goal is to get to that game and win that game."
But Underwood's visions of football success aren't just limited to high school. He said he will make a significant effort to try to persuade undecided 2010 recruits to come to Stanford.
"Oh, definitely, if I can help in anyway I'm going to do that," Underwood said. "I already see the guys that have committed so far, and even though it's early, we have a special class. We can really do big things with 2010. There are some guys that are kind of borderline and I can tell them what led me to making the decision. It all comes down to what they want, but I can talk to them because we're all young guys, we're all kind of going through the same thing. I'd definitely like to help any way I could."
Underwood, who has yet to be evaluated by Scout or Rivals, said that he currently has no plans to take visits to other schools.
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