OL Ben Muth (6-foot-6, 304 pounds) spent five years at Stanford, red-shirting as a freshman, and played in his final 26 games. He earned first-team all-conference honors in 2008 and established himself as a pivotal member of the O-line.
Jim Rutter, the publisher of Scout.com's Stanford site, the Bootleg, believes the extra year at Stanford helped improve Muth's chances of playing in the NFL.
OG Ben Muth
Photo by Mark Godi
"I doubt he would has generated nearly as much interest if he hadn't come back for 2008," he said. "The guy made First-Team All-Pac-10 after not even being on anyone's radar the year before."
Muth began his career as a backup, starting only sporadically, until his sophomore year when starter Allen Smith was sidelined with a season-ending injury. Muth replaced Allen in the starting lineup and never looked back.
"He blossomed after an injury to Stanford's top tackle [Allen] early in 2007 gave him a chance to start the final nine games of his red-shirt senior year," Rutter said.
Muth has shown the ability to persevere in the face of hardship. His father, who was a football coach, passed away early in the 2008 season. Muth was able to overcome that loss and have a great final season.
Rutter believes Muth's stick-to-itiveness is just one of the qualities that will serve him well in the NFL. Muth may not be the strongest or the most gifted athlete, but he is a good player who will be sorely missed at Stanford.
"Benny has good size, good length and doesn't do one thing so well, but doesn't have holes," Rutter said. "He is above-average in everything. He knows his limitations and prepares well. I should add that I know Coach [Jim] Harbaugh likes Muth a lot."
Stanford finished seventh in the Pac-10 last season, going 4-5 in the conference and 5-7 overall. But although the football program has struggled in recent seasons, it has produced a number of NFL players.
"Stanford has produced as many or more NFL players than many of the top BCS powers, including three offensive tackles currently in the league," Rutter said.
Now with the Chargers, the biggest adjustment for Muth will be getting used to being a small fish in a big pond. That was not the case when he first arrived at Stanford, as he was highly recruited coming out of high school, earning All-America honors.
Rutter feels Muth has played up to his potential thus far and now has the opportunity to continue playing.
"He started, made first-team all-conference in a BCS conference, and now has a good shot to play on Sundays," Rutter said. "If he can adjust to the speed of the game, he could play a long time in the league."