OT Bonnell solid to Stanford

Last year, Stanford commit OT Dillon Bonnell and his Thunder Ridge (Colo.) High School football team carried a record of 10-0 into a state playoff game against Douglas County High School, only for their hopes of an undefeated season and state championship to be demolished in a 59-26 blowout.

With the bitter taste of that defeat still fresh in his mouth, Dillon Bonnell worked hard over the offseason to improve as a football player. He wants to end his high school career on a high note.

"I feel that I've really improved my game and so has our team," Bonnell said. "Everyone says their goal is to win state and I really believe that's our team's goal this year," Bonnell said. "Also, we want to win league."

Slated to start at right tackle for Thunder Ridge, protecting his left-handed projected starting quarterback's blind side, Bonnell is also looking to earn a few individual honors to complement what he hopes will be a state championship season.

"My goal for this year is to be an All-Colorado athlete and to win the Golden Helmet award, which is given to the best overall football and academic performer in the state," Bonnell said.

And while Bonnell didn't play a down of football this summer, he did receive one very notable piece of recognition. In the latest Scout.com recruiting rankings, Bonnell made the jump from three-star prospect and No. 57 offensive tackle prospect in the country to four-star prospect and No. 34 tackle.

But Bonnell is not letting that inflate his ego. In fact, he views his jump to four stars as more of a victory for the Stanford football program than an individual accolade.

"For me, it was more what it would do to Stanford recruiting process and that it really helps Stanford's recruiting rankings," Bonnell said. "I know until you get onto the field those rankings don't mean too much, but it's always really nice to see your school up there in the top nationally with recruiting.

In recent weeks, Bonnell has been able to form connections with several other 2010 Stanford recruits that will likely be a part of another top-25 recruiting class.

"I've spoken with six or seven of the committed players so far and a couple other guys that are still thinking about Stanford," Bonnell said. "I really feel a good connection with a lot of the guys. They really seem to have a lot of the same priorities that I do and they really feel that when we get there we're going to make a big statement in football. That's the reason we've all chosen to go to Stanford - for the football."

That type of attitude seems to be more prevalent among recruits in the Jim Harbaugh era than in years past. Instead of committing to Stanford for the chance to get a good education and maybe win a few games on the football field, this new generation of Stanford football players see a formidable football program on the verge of accomplishing big things.

"A lot of the athletes that I talk to who aren't necessarily committed to Stanford but are thinking about going there are saying that it's an academic school and stuff like that," Bonnell said. "But we feel that we're football players and as football players, football comes first, and we want to win. That's one thing the guys I've been talking to felt that we wanted to get across."

With that commitment to turning Stanford into a winning program, it should come as no surprise that Bonnell is still firm in his commitment to the Cardinal, despite getting still getting numerous phone calls from other schools.

"The phone calls have really slowed down from sites like Scout and Rivals, but from coaches they really haven't slowed down too much," Bonnell said. "I'm still getting a lot of recruiting mail.

"I just try to take it and try to explain to the other schools that right now I'm committed to Stanford. I feel that Stanford is a great fit for me. The coaches and I really seem to get along and I think that I could have a great career at Stanford."

But first, Bonnell will need to pass through the school's admissions process. In addition to taking a heavy course load this fall with classes like AP Calculus, AP Environmental Science and AP Economics, Bonnell has also started to work on the Stanford application, aiming to complete it by the middle of September.

"I actually received the application last week and I started writing a couple of essays already and getting my teacher recommendations as well," Bonnell said. "I have a couple essays already done and I'm just trying to get it done as soon as I can, so I can start with the admissions process there.

Bonnell reports a 4.0 GPA and is scheduled to take the ACT in September.

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