Early-committing Sarao still on Card's radar

Fans understandably pay more attention to players who wait until later in the recruiting cycle to decide on a college, but once incoming freshmen reach campus, it's just as often those who pulled the trigger earliest who end up making the largest impact.

Look no further than Andrew Luck and Shayne Skov for recent examples of recruits who were among the first in their class to commit, and who may impact Stanford football tenfold more than later-commiting recruits fans spent more energy thinking about at the time.

It's in that spirit that The Bootleg approached its conversation last week with Anthony Sarao, a three-star New Jersey linebacker who committed early to Stanford's 2011 class. Sarao turned 17 on April 29, and, that same week, was named MVP of the Nike Camp and was nominated to be an Army All-American linebacker. Not a bad week for the rising senior.

"The last couple of weeks, or month, has been good," Sarao told The Bootleg in an exclusive interview last week. "I won a couple of MVP awards, including the Nike MVP, and also have had a couple of schools coming in to visit. Stanford is still my No. 1 school though."

After being named to the First Team All-Combine Defense at the All-American combine, Absecon, New Jersey's Sarao put himself in a strong position to play in the biggest high school all-star game of them all – the Army All-American Game.

"They gave me a nomination for that, and they'll tell me by December," Sarao said.

Sarao is also looking forward – well looking forward might not be the right phrase – is also planning on taking the SAT in short order, no small step for a prospective Stanford student-athlete.

"They say I need a minimum of 1500," Sarao said of Stanford's coaches. "My teachers, my principals have set me up with a good tutor, and I go every weekend. I'm taking it June 5. I'm really confident and well-prepared."

Sarao added that he would probably retake the test should he not score a 1,500, but he'd have to talk it over with his friends and family first. He also said that he's doing well in the classroom, getting all A's and a B+, or all A's every semester.

Meanwhile, Stanford continues to recruit its rising senior linebacker, and, in turn, he has started to recruit his classmates.

"Stanford has come to see me a couple of times," Sarao reports. "Coach Fangio was down here, so I talked with him. And I talk with a bunch of commits -- Amir Carlisle, basically every commit. Plus, I talk to kids close to committing, kids who want to commit and kids we're recruiting now about the school. James Vaughters, Todd Peat, Kyshoen Jarrett. They'd be good for our defense. Vaughters and I could come in as a duo, and Peat as the guy in that 3-4."

As much fun as the phone calls, texts, Facebooking and tweeting must be, Sarao may soon have a chance to see those potential teammates in the flesh.

"I'm trying to get down there June 21 and 22, but I'm not sure moneywise. It's Monday Night Football, we all have fun and compete. We'll see what happens, but it would be great to have a couple guys I know going in. I've been to Stanford with a lot of those guys, so we have good chemistry."

Of course, plenty goes off-plan in college recruiting, and just like Stanford has players formerly committed to other schools currently on the roster, so too do prospects decommit from Stanford, sometimes because of interest, sometimes because of admissions difficulties. Should Sarao look to end at another school, he'll have no shortage of options.

"I've received offers from a lot of schools, most recently Michigan State, about a week or two ago," Sarao said. "If Stanford didn't exist right now, Nebraska would be at the top of the schools I'm considering. They're definitely my top fallback, then UCLA, Michigan State and Ohio State."

Sarao said Ohio State never received the necessary paperwork from him, but he is in the process of resubmitting it and, once he does, he hopes an offer may be near. He has also planned a visit to Nebraska, his only planned college visit thus far, adding he may try to camp there for a half-day.

Back in New Jersey, Sarao starts summer ball June 11. He's a captain of a Holy Spirit HS team which went 8-3 last year – while featuring plenty of sophomores and juniors. This year, Sarao says the Spartans may be preseason No. 1 in South Jersey. (Sarao also adds that "Jersey Shore" isn't a wholly accurate representation of his state: "It depends. Some people are like that, but not the majority.")

So Snooki fans and Stanford fans alike, keep tabs on The Bootleg as we track Anthony Sarao as he heads into his senior year of high school. Whatever "The Situtaion" may be, we'll be quick to report it.


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