"We Walk" #1: OLB Brent Seals

In this first installment of our "We Walk" series, a dream comes true for La Puente, Calif. linebacker Brent Seals, a first-team all-CIF player and decorated scholar-athlete who "just said no" to the cream of the Ivy League and instead said "yes" to the "best of the west". Part of a landmark class of high-caliber walk-ons, the arrival of Seals is another indication of the direction of our program.

We Walk #1: OLB Brent Seals  

The Bootleg is proud to present the very first installment in a multi-part "We Walk" series profiling Stanford's landmark group of walk-ons focusing our attention on OLB Brent Seals, who starred in both football and track for Bishop Amat High School in La Puente, Calif., a school well-known for producing BCS conference-caliber football talent.


A six-foot one-inch, 195-pound safety/linebacker prospect, Seals turned down offers from Harvard andDartmouth to accept an invitation to walk on at Stanford last January. An all-San Gabriel Valley player who not only earned first-team all-Serra league honors, but was selected first-team all-CIF* (all-state) in his senior year, the talented Mr. Seals apparently had his eye on Stanford from the very beginning of his recruitment.


"When my recruitment first started I was hoping I would get a few offers and from the very beginning Stanford was my first choice," Seals said. "I had always hoped that I would be able to go there."


Seals said that he was interested in Stanford because the school offered great academics, nice weather, and Pac-10 football while being only a short plane ride away from his home in Southern California.


"Stanford appealed to me because I was looking for a school not only with football but a great academic school in a great environment, with nice weather of course, where I could really just enjoy myself. Stanford had all those things and then football of course - I get to play Pac-10 football close to home and benefit from the reputation of Stanford University.


Brent's mother, Dione, shared those sentiments.


"Stanford was always my 'number one'," Dione said. "It was the first college we went to visit when Brent was a sophomore. We just went up on our own and took a little mini summer break and drove up there and they were the first ones we went to see."


Unfortunately for Seals, Stanford didn't demonstrate quite as much interest as he had hoped in the early parts of his recruitment. However, he showed very well at a Stanford camp, and as signing day neared, interest from the Cardinal began to pick up. The football office got in touch with Seals to express Stanford's interest in having him come to the Farm as a walk-on.

Along with Stanford, Harvard and Dartmouth were also showing interest. The two Ivy League schools extended Seals offers in the fall and as national signing day approached, Seals was forced to make the difficult decision of choosing among those three elite universities.


Like Stanford, Harvard and Dartmouth require recruits first to gain admission to the school. In the fall, Seals sent off completed applications to all three schools, and gained admission to each. News of getting into Stanford was especially sweet for Seals and his family.


"Oh, I was so excited," says Seals, who scored 1990 on his SAT to go along with a 4.5 GPA, said. "My mom was even more excited. She was crying when she saw I got in."


After passing through the admissions process for the schools, Seals went about setting up visits to his leading potential college destinations in early January. The first weekend in January Seals flew out to the East Coast to see Harvard and Dartmouth before heading up to Stanford the next weekend for an unofficial visit. The two trips couldn't have been any more different.


"Well probably the biggest thing was that at Harvard, the first weekend of January, it was 13 degrees," Seals said. "Then when I went to Stanford the next weekend it was in the low 70's."


When visiting the Stanford, Seals was given official word - an invitation to walk on. He wasted little time in accepting.


"I took it right away," Seals said. "I was ecstatic."


In the end, playing Pac-10 football close to home in a warm-weather climate was too much for Seals to pass up.


"Well the fact that I got to stay in California closer to home and to all of my friends [was a big factor]. And I've always wanted to play in the Pac-10," Seals said.


Still, beneath the euphoria of playing college football at his dream school, Seals had to deal with the frustration of not getting more attention and offers from college programs after such an outstanding prep athletic career.


"It was a little frustrating at times especially because I have a couple of friends who are going to UCLA," Seals said. "Seeing them get offered and commit made me anxious, but I finally realized that I was given a great opportunity to walk on."


Seals said that he thought his height may have deterred some colleges from showing more interest.


"I think height definitely had something to do with it considering most schools wanted me to play safety," Seals said. "I hadn't had much experience playing safety in high school and I think that was a big deal, but I'm not really worried about it. I know what I can do, so once I get up there, I plan on showing everybody that."


Seals hopes that his raw athleticism will outweigh questions about his size in his quest to earn playing time either on special teams or at the outside linebacker position.


"I think my biggest strength is definitely my quickness," Seals said. "I move very well on the field and feel I can help out in that way. I had a 4.6 forty and my vertical leap was 38 inches."


Seals knows that competing against scholarship players and other heralded walk-ons for playing time will be no easy task, but thinks he has a good idea of what he needs to work on to get on the field.


"I think I need to work on my strength going against huge Pac-10 linemen," Seals said. "That's definitely one of the most important things upon which I need to work."


Seals will be familiar with many of the players with whom he will be competing. Admittedly a close observer of recruiting, Seals has spent many hours on Scout.com getting to know some of his future teammates from the class of 2009.


"I'm pretty much on Scout.com like everyday," Seals said. "It's one of my top websites on my computer. I think it's a great (2009) class. I've watched a lot of the guys' highlight videos and they can play."


Playing in Southern California, Seals has had the opportunity to get to know some of those players first-hand.


"Well, I've talked a little bit to [2009 QB] Josh Nunes because he's from Upland which isn't too far away from me and I've been talking to another one of the walk-ons, (fellow LB) Brent Etiz, a lot lately."


This past season Seals also had an opportunity to play against incoming freshman defensive back Terrence Brown from Orange Lutheran High School.


"He was good," Seals said. "He definitely locked our receivers down."


Soon, Seals will be joining Brown and the rest of the 2009 recruiting class in Palo Alto for the start of fall practice.


"I leave this Friday," Seals said. "I can't wait. I've been counting down the days. I was telling my mom the other day that if they'd call right now and say they wanted me, I'd pack up and leave immediately - so I can't wait to get up there!"


And while Dione Seals will be sad to see Brent leave home, she is beyond excited for her son to start the next exciting and challenging chapter of his life.


"I feel so incredibly blessed and unbelievably excited," Dione said. "I'm excited about this opportunity for him, knowing we've been working towards this for 18 years. I'm going to miss him. I'm going to be crying, but I'm excited for him and he worked all these years for that reason - so he can go off, be out on there own, and succeed."


 * = Pretty impressive honor for Seals. To put it in some perspective, former Stanford and NFL linebacker Milt McColl, who won a Super Bowl ring with the San Francisco 49ers,  was all-San Gabriel Valley LB in 1976, but was only second-team All-CIF 4-A. Also among the 1977 Stanford Football signing class were all-San Gabriel Valley players WR Randy Risser, LB Craig Zellmer and QB Kevin McCracken.


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