"We Walk!": #4 RB Andrew Stutz

Stanford hauled in a number of highly-rated RBs in the 2009 class. 2009 walk-on RB Andrew Stutz could have taken "the road more traveled", but instead chose to aim high and try for the best of all worlds. Bringing in a hard-working, competitive kid like Stutz is just another sign of the growing attraction of the Stanford program, brought to you this time by The Bootleg's tireless Andy Drukarev.

"We Walk!": #4 RB Andrew Stutz 

At an age when most young kids are too busy watching Saturday morning cartoons to tune into college football games, Andrew Stutz had already decided for which college team he wanted to play.

When Stutz was just seven-years-old he remembers watching a Stanford football game with his dad, Tom. To this day Stutz isn't sure why, but midway through the game he made an announcement.

"I don't know what it was but I looked at my dad and told him that, ‘I want to go to Stanford and I want to play football for Stanford' " Stutz said.

As Stutz grew older and learned more about what Stanford had to offer, his interest in playing for the Cardinal only increased.

"As I was getting older I learned about how prestigious the school was and kind of what it took to get there academically," Stutz said. "Then I started playing football and just really wanted to play at Stanford."

Stutz didn't start playing organized football until seventh grade when he participated in a National Youth Sports spring league consisting of eight-player teams. While he enjoyed the experience and wanted to play again in eighth grade, Stutz grew too big for the league, and was forced to wait until the freshman year of high school to continue playing.

It was as a freshman at Notre Dame Prep that Stutz first realized what kind of potential he had as a runner. Because of his size Stutz started out the year as a fullback, but scored so many touchdowns and gained so many yards that he was moved up to varsity to play running back as a sophomore.

Sophomore year was also when Stutz first started to get attention from colleges. Stutz filled out more several college recruiting profiles and started to exchange emails with a handful of college coaches.

"At the beginning of my sophomore year I started emailing and getting letters from schools," Stutz said. "Any school you can imagine [sent me letters.] Ivy League schools, Division-I schools, Division-II schools, and Division-III schools all showed interest."

In Stutz's junior year, Notre Dame Prep had one of the most talented rosters in the entire state of Arizona . Current Duke University quarterback Sean Renfree managed an efficient passing attack and Stutz and (one-time Stanford target and now University of Pennsylvania ) running back Patrick Foley led a powerful running game.

The only downside to being on a team that talented was that Stutz didn't get the amount of carries he would have on a less talented team. As a result, he felt that his abilities were often overlooked by college recruiters.

"At the end of my junior year I really felt under-recruited," Stutz said. "We had a really strong pass game with Sean Renfree and I think Patrick and I only had like 300 yards rushing each. We were both really talented though and our coaches knew that, but we just had such a great quarterback."

And even though Renfree moved onto Duke after Stutz's junior year, Stutz still had to share carries with Foley. As a result, Stutz wasn't able to put up the kind of production expected of a BCS-caliber recruit.

But five weeks into Notre Dame Prep's season that all changed. Foley was forced to miss three games with an injury, leaving Stutz with the bulk of the carries. Stutz finally had an opportunity to show colleges what he could do.

"When he got hurt my coach pulled me aside and told me that, ‘This is your time. I know you've been under-recruited but this is your chance you need to take this opportunity,'" Stutz said. "I just remember going out and I became the premier back and I got so much more visibility, so much more film, definitely more phone calls."

One of the schools that started to show more attention in Stutz around that time was Stanford. Coach Lance Anderson and Stutz started to exchange emails more frequently, and a contingent of Stanford coaches flew down to Arizona to watch Notre Dame Prep play in the Arizona state championship game.

"Well when we played our state game against Santa Rita in the beginning of December Coach Anderson and Coach Shaw came out and watched the game," Foley said. "They came looking at Patrick Foley, me, and another player, but Patrick actually got hurt that game again so and I ended up getting most of the carries. I ended up winning the MVP award in that game.

Still there were several barriers that Stutz had to overcome to secure a spot in the 2009 recruiting class. Like all Cardinal targets, Stutz first had to pass through Stanford's admission process.

"Well, I would say the application process was really stressful," Stutz said. "I was really glad that they accepted the common application at Stanford which I had filled out for Brown and some of the other Ivy Leagues schools, so I already that part done. Still, I reviewed it a lot more before I turned it into Stanford. Also they had a supplement with it which is another part of the application process and I really spent a lot of time on that.

In the end, all that hard work paid off for Stutz. On January 29, he received word that he had in fact gained admission to his dream school.

"I remember where I was when I got the news," Stutz said. "I was in my football locker room and Coach Anderson texted me and said to give him a call after school. I was just walking outside and as soon as I got a hold of him he said, ‘Congratulations, you're part of the 2013 Stanford class, welcome to Stanford! Only seven percent were accepted this year and you're one of them!'

"After I got off the phone with him I screamed as loud as I could and was really excited and ran and told my football coach and my counselor. My principal actually pulled me aside the next day and took me out of class and congratulated me because I was the first person from my high school to get admitted there. Then I ended up telling my parents and my mom cried and it was just really exciting."

But even after passing through admissions, Stutz wasn't quite ready to commit to Stanford. Over the past few months he had picked up offers from Harvard, Yale, Penn, Brown, USD, and Northern Colorado, and he needed a few days to decide between his two finalists of Brown and Stanford.

"I would say I was still considering Brown primarily because of my playing time," Stutz said. "I really wanted to go to Stanford more than Brown, but I didn't want to be that walk-on who gets thrown around and doesn't get much playing time so I felt that I really had to think it through. So I thought it through for a week and it was really back and forth. Like I really wanted to come to Stanford and that was really my choice, but I was thinking about the football part of it too."

"I typed up a list of questions for Stanford, I called my position coach, Coach Taggart, and we had a no-BS conversation. I definitely wanted to get a feel for whether I was going to get reps, get a chance, and get treated like all of the other players.

"He told me that if you're questioning or you're afraid of not getting playing time, not to come. That's what his response was. So we were kind of shocked by that."

At the same time, Coach Taggart emphasized to Stutz that if he was willing to put in the work on the practice field and on special teams, he would have a good chance at seeing the field.

"Coach Taggart really, really preached about special teams and getting to be a head-hunter and running down and making yourself stand out," Stutz said. "I'm the kind of guy that really has a good work ethic. I just keep working and working and I know once I get here I can be on the same level as these guys. I just know I'll outwork people." 

After talking with Coach Taggart, it didn't take Stutz long to come to a decision. On February 4, Stutz picked up the phone and called Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and let him know that he wanted to come to Stanford and be a Cardinal.

"In the end what I really felt in my gut was that I didn't want to be the guy 30 or 40 years from now talking to their children saying I could have gone to Stanford and played Division-I [FBS] football, but I didn't think I could do it so I went to an Ivy League school," Stutz said.

If Stutz is able to make an impact as a running back in the Pac-10, it will be because of his downhill running style and ability to take punishment.

"My strength is definitely my work ethic," Stutz said. "On the field I have really good vision and I'm a really hard-nosed runner. I run downhill all the time and I don't care if I get hit at the line - I'm definitely falling forward. Occasionally I'll break some tackles, but I'm just a really consistent player that can take a lot of hits and a lot of carries. I'm tough and I'm quick and I can take a beating I never stop, I'll never come off the field because I'm tired. [Ed. - Sounds a lot like "relentless" to us!]

Still, Stutz admits that in order to get regular playing time as a running back he must improve his quickness, cutting ability, and footwork.

"I think I need to work on a little more footwork and making better cuts in some areas," Stutz said. "I'm probably going to be developing those abilities in the next four or five years."

To get a better picture of what Stutz could bring to the table as a player at Stanford, The Bootleg asked Scout.com's Southwestern recruiting analyst Jason Jewell to share his analysis of Stutz's abilities.

"Stutz ended up having a great senior year, helping his team win the 4-A2 state title, rushing for 1,000+ yards," Jewell said. "What he lacks in pure speed, he made up in toughness. Runs hard and was tough to bring down in '08. Had Ivy League and I-AA [FCS] opportunities but chose to walk-on at Stanford to try his hand at Pac-10 play. Probably will not end up as a RB, but could play some LB. Is a kid that will give it his all during scout team play his first few years on campus and should develop into a special teams player after that."

It's safe to say, however, that Stutz strongly disagreed with Jewell's analysis that he likely wouldn't be able to stick at running back. When The Bootleg asked Stutz about a possible position switch, it elicited a strong reaction.

"I don't think that's correct at all," Stutz said "I'm definitely a little undersized to play linebacker here and I'm considered a running back. Primarily I'm going to be working as a running back and doing some special teams as well."

Having college coaches and recruiting analysts doubt his ability is not a new concept for Stutz. Throughout high school, Stutz failed to garner the attention from colleges he thought his play warranted. But instead of letting that drag him down, Stutz used the criticism as motivation to work even harder.

"My whole senior year I played like I was under-recruited and just with that fire and ambition to show somebody that I can do it," Stutz said. "I finally got an opportunity when Patrick got hurt. [And when I had that opportunity] I went from 300 yards and three touchdowns in my junior year to like 1,700 yards and 23 touchdowns my senior year. I trained a lot, but it was mostly opportunity and ambition - all I need is opportunity."

Stuzt certainly knew how to take advantage of opportunity when it arose. In the three games after starter Foley was injured alone, Stutz ran roughshod through the opposition's defenses for 536 yards and six touchdowns!

And with the start of fall camp right around the corner, Stutz will soon have a chance to prove that he can in fact be a quality BCS player and translate his game to the big-time. He arrived on Stanford's campus this past Thursday and has spent the last couple of days getting used to his new surroundings.

"I got here a night ago and it was really weird," Stutz said. "I just showed up with two suitcases of just clothes and my laptop. I felt like I was leaving a lot behind but when I got here I was just really excited – everything's new. Your whole lifestyle is new. Even these past few days I've had a totally different schedule. I just got my dorm assignment today and am trying to figure out where that is and I'm going to buy a bike soon.

"It's just really different, especially talking to the coaches as a player - like you're actually part of the team. I went into the locker room and seeing my locker with my name and my plaque and getting my number (#29) was just really, really exciting. I kind of don't know what to expect the first day of camp here, and am really kind of nervous but excited at the same time."

While much of Stutz's focus is understandably on football, he has also taken some time to think about what life will be like once his football career is over. At Stanford he would like to major in a business field with the hope of one day having a career as a financial advisor or in marketing.

"I was thinking of maybe being a financial advisor for professional athletes because I will have been an athlete and I will be able to relate to athletes because I kind of know how they think," Stutz said. I could help make sure that they spend their money properly. If I don't do that then maybe I could work in the marketing world, maybe on Wall Street. I visited Wall Street and the stock exchange on a high school investment club trade [and enjoyed my time there]."

Regardless of what line of work Stutz ends up in, it seems certain that he will continue his involvement in community service. In high school he racked up more than 210 hours of community service doing things like picking fruit for the elderly, ushering at church services, and spending a week in Mexico helping out at an orphanage. But naturally, Stutz's favorite service activity had to do with football.

"My favorite was Special Olympics because it dealt with sports," Stutz said. My friend Shane Wolfe, who was our quarterback last year, started Special Olympics flag football and I was kind of with him, helping him out with that. For a while I really hated going out and doing community service because I hated hearing kids complain, but when we started Special Olympics flag football it was just really fun playing with the kids."

And Stutz doesn't plan on stopping his community involvement any time soon. He said that as soon as he gets acclimated to his new surroundings at Stanford, he will pursue church and other service opportunities.

Stutz completed his high school education with a sparkling 3.98 unweighted cumulative GPA and a score of 26 on the ACT. He is currently 6'0', weighs 205 pounds, and has been clocked as fast as 4.69 seconds in the forty-yard dash.

Editor's Bonus Notes:

The Bootleg learned that young Stutz was quite disappointed when he arrived in Palo Alto several days before Saturday's check-in and by rule was not allowed to work out using campus facilities - the kid was chomping at the bit to get rolling! Doubt he even needs an alarm clock.

Stutz was named first team All-Black Canyon Region as a running back following his senior season and was named the most valuable player of the 2008-09 4A Arizona state championship game. He received the 2008 Cox/Arizona Interscholastic Association "Pursuing Victory With Honor" award and was honored with four-times with the Interscholastic Association Student-Athlete award. Received too many other awards to try to list them all here. Obviously a ridiculous achiever, just the way we like 'em.

Andrew was named to Arizona-focused
24-7Football.com's "2008 All-4A2 Team" as a "honorable mention" selection, recognizing him as one of the best running backs in the state of Arizona

In the past, Stanford has had some great running backs from Arizona including tour-as-nails Jon Volpe from Tucson's Amphitheater HS and the sublimely-gifted Mike "Saturday Night" Mitchell from Brophy Prep in Phoenix (the same school as 2009 freshman DE Trent Murphy). Each was the state's leading rusher in his senior season. Mitchell was ranked by Blue Chip Magazine as the #1 running back in the nation in 1992. 

OT: Just to show we don't forget our own - Please be aware that former Stanford Basketball assistant coach Tony Fuller - is Brophy Prep's Head Varsity Basketball Coach and was named the 2008 Region Coach of the Year! Good for Tony - great guy!

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