But a recent trip to Palo Alto for Stanford's junior day changed Gladd's perspective entirely.
"In the first part of the whole recruiting process I kind of thought maybe I don't want to be too far away from home, maybe I want to stay in the Midwest," Gladd said. It would be easier on my family to come see me. But then after this weekend I kind of realized no matter where I go I'm not going to get to go home that much."
Perhaps more importantly, Gladd came to the surprising realization that he actually felt more comfortable on a college campus more than 1500 miles away from home than some of the closer schools.
So what was it about Gladd's trip out to Palo Alto that made such a profound impact on his decision making process?
"I guess everybody was more laid back and they tried to keep everybody loosened up," Gladd said. "There weren't a whole lot of kids there so a lot of questions were asked and we found out a lot of things. We hung out with the coaches and players a little more than I had at the other schools. That kind of thing."
Beyond that, though, it seems like the theme of Gladd's Stanford experience was the acceptance he felt from all those around him. Being from a different part of the country, Gladd was admittedly worried about the reception he would face in Palo Alto.
"I didn't know how people were going to treat me being from the Midwest and going out to California and the West Coast," Gladd said. "I didn't know how that was going to go and that was kind of the big thing.
"[But] the people are really accepting. You didn't feel uncomfortable being around everybody, you just felt like everyone took you in and didn't treat you any different from anybody else no matter where you were from.
In all likelihood, one of the reasons Gladd was able to acclimate himself to his new surroundings so quickly was that he spent a good chunk of time with a fellow Oklahoman who could relate to Gladd's situation quite well.
As Cardinal fans remember well, senior center Chase Beeler endured an agonizing recruitment choosing between the Sooners and Cardinal. Although he initially signed with Oklahoma, Beeler transferred to Stanford after just one year and has developed into one of the better interior linemen on the West Coast.
"Before we left the first day Chase Beeler came over and visited with us after practice and he answered a lot of question for me," Gladd said. "He had a lot of good information that I was needing to know about the place."
Beeler was able to address some of Gladd's concerns about the transition he would face should he decide to commit to Stanford.
"The first question I asked him [about was] the hardest thing for him and he said the distance thing was a little hard on him because he didn't get to see his family that much," Gladd said. "But on the other side of that the football kept him so busy that the transition wasn't that difficult for him. We asked him what he thought of all the coaches, what he thought of the campus and how everybody was. He told us it was a great place to be, liked it a lot, and he though I'd probably like it just as much as he did."
Before returning home to Oklahoma, Gladd also had an opportunity to spend time watching film and talking with Stanford's offensive line coaches, Tim Drevno and Greg Roman.
"I think it would be pretty fun [to play for those guys]," Gladd said. "We all visited for a long time both days and they were great guys real fun to be around. Real energetic. They were pretty cool coaches."
BREAK Even though he admittedly, "fell in love with the place this weekend," Gladd isn't ready to wrap up the recruiting process just yet. He has yet to eliminate any schools from contention, and he plans to visit the University of Kansas for the Jayhawks' spring game in a few weeks.
Gladd is also cognizant of the fact that his junior day visit to Stanford marked the first time he had visited a school holding an offer from that school. With three offers from Oklahoma, Stanford, and Kansas, Gladd is looking forward to comparing his experience at Kansas to his time in Palo Alto.
"When I go to Kansas I want to just see how they treat me with an offer," Gladd said.
But at this point in his recruitment, it's safe to say that the Cardinal have a pretty significant leg up on Kansas and Oklahoma as well as other interested schools like Nebraska, New Mexico, and Iowa State.
"Well, after this weekend, Stanford's definitely on top," Gladd said. "They've set the bar pretty high for other schools to reach."
And if no other school is able to change Gladd's mind within the next few weeks, it seems like a distinct possibility that the he might pull the trigger on a Cardinal commitment sooner rather than later.
"I have to go to Kansas' spring game next weekend and then I told the coaches that I'd probably make a commitment decision by May 1 or the end of May," Gladd said. "Sometime in the month of May."
If Gladd does end up picking Stanford, he shouldn't have too much trouble passing through the school's admissions process.
"They showed us the scores we needed, the GPA we needed, and the classes we needed to take," Gladd said." I was good so far. The only thing that I had to do was for the ACT, I had a high enough score for it, but I just needed to take it with the writing test."
Gladd reported a 4.0 GPA (3.9 Stanford GPA) and a 24 on the ACT without the writing portion.
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