"We Walk!": #3 LB Brent Etiz

Stanford has been attracting talent from California's central valley for decades & we had been hearing great things about Clovis, Calif.-product & the TRAC conference Def. Player of the Year, '09 LB walk-on Brent Etiz. Bringing in a potential steal like Etiz, who easily could have played elsewhere, is yet another indication of Stanford University's extraordinary appeal. Let the competition begin!

"We Walk!": #3 LB Brent Etiz

Enthusiasm oozed through the cell phone as The Bootleg interviewed Stanford's incoming freshman walk-on linebacker Brent Etiz. The third profiled player in the "We Walk" series decommitted from a storied Ivy League program and a full-ride to accept a spot on the 2009 Cardinal football roster.


"Pac-10 football has been a dream of mine ever since I was young, and I think that's the same for a lot of kids," Etiz said. "Getting out there with the best and smartest players in the country, surrounding myself with the elite, it's going to be good times."


A three-year starter at Buchanan High (Clovis, Calif.), Etiz helped the Bears to consecutive Tri-River Athletic Conference (TRAC) titles. He finished his senior year with 126.0 tackles (81 solo), 21.0 tackles-for-loss, 7.0 sacks, four interceptions and a trio of forced fumbles. Etiz earned league Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2008 and is Buchanan's single-season solo and assisted tackle record-holder.


The 6-0, 220-pound Etiz hopes to make an immediate impact as a freshman, but isn't impatient for playing time and understands his role on the team.


"You know it's going to be a completely different ball game; it's not high school anymore," he said. "I'm just ready to get out there, compete and have a good time with the guys. I am going to drop down and work my butt off every day, and make my teammates better. Most of all, it's just about getting wins. I want to help get the team to a bowl game this season. And I think we are going to do that this year and the years following."


Scout.com's West Recruiting Analyst Brandon Huffman believes that Etiz could see playing time in his first season.


"I love Etiz's nose for the ball," said Huffman. "He's physical and aggressive. He's pretty agile, moves well sideline-to-sideline and does a solid job in pass coverage. I think early he'll be a special teams contributor, but down the line I can see him getting a lot of playing time."


Etiz and his family will be traveling from central California to Stanford on Saturday. Although he never took an official visit to The Farm, Etiz is a frequent visitor to the area, attending many Stanford sporting events with grandparents that live in Palo Alto.


"I am looking forward to starting something new, the college life," he said. "We are supposed to check-in at 1:00pm and get the dorm room stuff all set up. We have a team dinner at 5:00pm on Saturday and then we start practice and camp on Monday."


But these Cardinal football activities were nearly excluded from the gameplan for young Etiz. After committing to play his college ball in New Jersey for the Princeton Tigers, Etiz was admitted into Stanford in early February and ultimately made the tough call to the Tiger coaching staff about his decision.


"It was always Stanford for me from the beginning," said Etiz. "The other schools were great and I loved them, but ultimately the proximity of Stanford being so close to home and playing in the Pac-10 was too much. You can't compare Stanford's campus to anyone's, and academically if you go there for four years you are pretty much set."


Along with Princeton, UC Davis had also extended a scholarship offer to Etiz. Yale, Cornell and Columbia were also interested, but Etiz said once he committed to the Cardinal he told schools not to even bother.


One helping hand in that process was former Cardinal Josh Madsen who played free safety for Stanford in the mid-90s. The original "Mad Dog" is currently an anesthesiologist and worked with Brent's father, Bill. Etiz said that Madsen, who obviously had a "pre-existing relationship" with the Etiz family, was very helpful throughout his decision.


"Once he found out I had an opportunity to play at Stanford [Josh] said don't pass it up," Etiz stated. "He actually called me shortly after I committed and said welcome to the family. It's been really cool to have someone to relate with and tell me the ins and outs of the university."


Etiz said that his summer has been filled with preparation and anticipation. His academic prowess has continued through the warm months as he has already combed through a handful of school books for classes that begin this fall. Etiz held a 4.5 GPA in high school and was the valedictorian of his class. His classroom leadership qualities carried onto the football field where he served as a team captain for three varsity seasons.


As a freshman football player in the Pac-10, it could be difficult to be a leader and voice an opinion. Etiz is confident that he will be able to contribute in that department regardless of his class or age.


"I've met all the older guys and it's a great group of guys, it's a family," he said. "One thing about the Stanford group is that it's not really segregated by year or class. It's a cohesive unit so there's not really segregation between the younger guys and the older guys. Everyone just comes in and does their part because we are all pulling in one direction.


"And if you want to be successful and get to a bowl game, that's what you have to do. Everyone is going to get out there and lead the team the way they can. Everyone knows what their leadership role is and staying together as a group is going to be a key to our success."


Etiz is beyond pumped about playing in the Pac-10, but understands that college football isn't going to be anything like prep football. Like many, he points to one area that he thinks will be the biggest transition he will experience.


"I would definitely have to say it will be the speed of the game," said Etiz. "The speed changes so much you have to be so quick on your feet and your reactions have to be right on. You just have to make a decision and go, there's no hesitation. I'm going to be playing with the big boys now so you just have to keep the pad level low and get going. There's no doubt about it that these are the best athletes in the country and you have to go out there and do your best."


Some of the aforementioned "best athletes" will be joining Etiz as the outstanding Stanford freshman class settles in this weekend. Although he's never played with or against anyone on the team, Etiz is quickly becoming acquainted with his Cardinal brethren.


"I've met a lot of the guys throughout the summer," he said. "We've all been chatting on Facebook and we're all eager to get this thing started on Monday. It's just like a new group of 20 brothers that you are going to be with the next four years and share the best experiences of your life with, on and off the field."

Editor's Bonus Notes: 

We understand Etiz was very close to receiving a scholarship offer last February. Guy can really play, as is the case with so many of the high-quality walk-ons this year.

No wonder Princeton and the other Ivies wanted Etiz - the last we heard, he was sporting
 a 4.5 GPA and had scored an 1820 on his SAT.

This young man's recruitment is further demonstration of the value of relationships and the need to maintain solid contact with former Cardinal players. 1996 Sun Bowl squad member Josh Madsen is a ridiculous poster boy for Stanford Athletics: Wonderful guy, excellent player, great student, med school marvel, married a charming former "Miss California"....heck the guy is such an appallingly solid citizen, he wouldn't even curse during his playing days. The Bootleg loved Josh from Day One and so does everyone else. Who would be better to inspire a young athlete like Etiz? Further to the point - Who was the first guy, back in 2007, that pointed out a stud Houston QB named Andrew Luck that Stanford should be targeting? Former Stanford DE/LB and then-Houston Texan LB Kailee Wong. Props to the football office for maintaining "the Cardinal ties that bind"!

Brent's Buchanon High School was designated "California Athletic High School of the Year" in 2005-06 and its teams' nickname is the "Bears" and unfortunately one of the school colors is blue , but luckily the other is red and we think he will get the hang of rooting against all "Bears" now that he has arrived on the Stanford campus. Former Cal safety Matt Giordano, now with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, played for Buchanon, helping the school win its first league title in 2000. He played for Fresno City College before transferring to Berkeley and winning first-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2004.  

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