Big 12, Pac-10 school beckon for fast NJ LB

Although it's impossible to completely judge a football player by his performance in a camp or combine setting, certain metrics can tell an observer a lot about an athlete's football potential.

While most people think of the 40-yard dash, vertical leap, or bench press as good indications of skill, the 20-yard shuttle can be a great way to get a handle on lateral speed – a critical football talent.

So when New Jersey linebacker Anthony Sarao posted the fastest shuttle time among 500 of the nation's top underclass high school football stars at the U.S. Army All American Combine last month, recruiters across the country took notice.

Sarao, whose time of 3.86 seconds was among the fastest shuttles in the history of the combine, was named to the Combine First Team Defense and the Second Team Defense.

And fortunately for Stanford, the 6-foot-1, 205 pound outside linebacker from Holy Spirit High School in New Jersey has plenty of interest in bringing that speed to Palo Alto. Sarao currently holds six offers from schools nationwide, but admits to favoring a pair of institutions.

"Right now I have six offers," Sarao said. "I have Stanford, definitely Stanford, Maryland, Boston College, Temple, Nebraska, and Rutgers.

"Out of my offers right now, Stanford and Nebraska stand out the most."

Sarao plans to take an unofficial visit to The Farm next weekend for Stanford's Junior Day. The linebacker said he already knows quite a bit about what the Cardinal have to offer, but is looking forward to getting to better know the coaches and campus.

"One of the coaches used to coach at my school, Coach Greg Roman," Sarao said. "He and I have a real good relationship. I know a lot about Stanford already, I just want to go up there and get to know the coaches a little bit better, and see if I feel comfortable on the campus."

Stanford is pursuing Sarao as an outside linebacker, as are the other schools recruiting him. While it might not be the deciding factor in his recruitment, Sarao admits that he feels more comfortable in a 3-4 defense, something that could definitely help Stanford chances.

"I like a 3-4 because I can move around a lot because of my speed and size," Sarao said. "That definitely plays to their benefit."

As will Stanford's quality academics. When asked what he was looking for in a potential college destination, Sarao wasn't the least bit hesitant in listing a quality education as his top priority.

"I'm not really looking at any schools that don't have academics, so that's definitely important," Sarao said. "After that it's just how I feel comfortable, how the coaches are and stuff, because I don't want to play football and not be competing. Hopefully bowl games and all that."

Sarao said that he would ideally end his recruitment before the beginning of his senior year, but admits that's an uncertain proposition.

"I don't know if it's going to be possible, but definitely before the season starts next year, so I can be focused on next year," he said.

Either way, Sarao will have an excellent opportunity to assess one of the schools that will likely be involved with him until the end of his recruitment next weekend, and The Bootleg will be there to get reaction from Sarao as soon as his visit is over.

Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with (sign-up)!

The Bootleg Top Stories