February 01, 2012
Follow the day's most anticipated signings with Rivals' announcement watch, updated throughout the day.
Most accounts of Stanford's ascension over the last three years begin and end — justifiably so — with Andrew Luck's ascension to the top of draft boards as one of the most coveted pro prospects in a generation. But it certainly didn't hurt that Luck spent his entire college career behind a pair of All-American classmates, left tackle Jonathan Martin and guard David DeCastro, who arrived with luck as part of the unheralded recruiting class of 2008, started every game of the best two-year run in school history and are expected to join luck in the first round of the NFL Draft in April.
If you're making the case this offseason that Stanford's moment in the sun has passed, the argument doesn't stop at Luck: It's also a matter of losing the nimble giants up front who made his job about as easy as it could be. On the other hand, if you're making the case that the Cardinal are going to hold their ground among the Pac-12 elite, you can start with the new, banner crop of linemen who put their names on letters of intent this afternoon.
In the span of a few hours, Stanford picked up commitments and subsequent signatures from not one but two offensive tackles — Tempe, Ariz., behemoth Andrus Peat (below) and Kyle Murphy (top) of San Clemente, Calif. — who boast five-star ratings from Rivals, along with a borderline five-star, Puyallup, Wash., guard Joshua Garnett, giving the Cardinal three of the top seven offensive linemen in the entire 2012 recruiting class. Altogether — with Murphy, Peat, Garnett, Brandon Fanaika, Graham Shuler and Nick Davidson — there are six incoming O-linemen in the new class rated as four-star prospects or better.
To put the wealth of that haul into context: Before today, Stanford had signed exactly one five-star player at any position (future NFL quarterback Trent Edwards in 2002) in ten years since Rivals started keeping score back in 2002. At one point, before former head coach Jim Harbaugh began making his mark on the trail five years ago, the Cardinal signed back-to-back classes in 2006-07 with a single four-star player between them. (That would be forgotten quarterback Kellen Kiilsgaard, who never took a snap in a Stanford uniform.) In the same ten-year span from 2002-11, only two schools (USC and Ohio State, both in 2008) managed to signed two five-star offensive linemen in the same class. If you include Garnett, who's just one spot away from five-star status in Rivals' top 100, Stanford just signed three.
For good measure, the Cardinal also signed a five-star defensive lineman, the precariously named Aziz Shuttu, which makes the class as a whole not only the best in a cutthroat Pac-12 race but easily among the best in the nation. At Stanford, which is Stanford, where first-rate recruits are supposed to be blocked at the gate by formidable academic standards even if they're interested in playing there. For the first time in a very long time, they actually are.
The one key piece this class is missing: A quarterback, leaving the starting job to fall to redshirt sophomore Brett Nottingham for what still shapes up as a rocky transition year this fall. If he can make it out of 2012 in one piece, though, by 2013, he may never have to wash his jersey again.