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With so many players back, Stanford signs only 12

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Stanford signed an extremely small recruiting class that consisted of only 12 players because so few players left the program, leaving only a limited number of scholarships.

The small number led to a relatively low ranking by the recruiting services, with Rivals.com ranking Stanford's class 63rd in the country and Scout.com pegging it at No. 56.

Both services ranked Stanford's class 11th in the Pac-12, ahead of only Colorado.

That's a far cry from the Stanford's 22-player class of 2012, which was ranked fifth in the country by Rivals.com and seventh by Scout.com.

However, the average rating of the players Stanford signed this year was still relatively high, ranking fifth best among Pac-12 schools.

The Cardinal added quality linebacker Peter Kalambayi of Matthews, N.C., but perhaps more important is that it addressed its need at wide receiver and tight end.

Wide receiver Francis Owusu, younger brother of former Stanford wide receiver Chris Owusu, should get a chance to play immediately, because the Cardinal desperately needs a play-maker at wide receiver.

"Offensively, we believe that we've added exciting firepower," coach David Shaw said. "Ryan Burns is a big, athletic, strong-armed quarterback, and he is joined by Francis Owusu, who is one of the most explosive wide receivers in the nation."

Burns is rated the 108th overall prospect in the nation by Rivals.com, but with returning quarterback Kevin Hogan being a redshirt freshman last season, Burns does not figure to get much playing time for a while.

Owusu should get playing time immediately, as will at least one of the three tight ends Stanford signed -- Austin Hooper of powerhouse De La Salle High in Concord, Calif., Greg Taboada of Atlanta, Ga., and Eric Cotton of Nampa, Idaho.

Stanford has had outstanding tight ends Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo the last two years.

Fleener was a first-round pick last year and Ertz is a good bet to be a first-rounder this year. Toilolo is expected to be taken early in the 2013 draft as well.

"People have asked me the last few years, 'Where do you find those tight ends?'" Shaw said. "We believe that we have three guys in this class who can be as productive in the running game and passing game as Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo were for us."

The fact that one-quarter of the class is made up of tight ends indicates how important that position is to Stanford's scheme, which often uses two or three tight ends at a time to create its power running game while utilizing the tight ends as the primary receivers in the passing game.

The Cardinal focused on offensive linemen last year, but added only two offensive linemen and no defensive linemen this time.

TOP OF THE CLASS

OLB Peter Kalambayi (Butler High in Matthews, N.C) -- The 6-for-2, 240-pound Kalamayi is the highest rated of the players signed by Stanford. He is ranked the nation's No. 97 recruit by Rivals.com and No. 131 by Scout.com. He is also the only USA Today All-American among the Cardinal recruits, and was one of five finalists for the high school Butkus award. He can play inside and outside linebacker, but figures to be an outside linebacker at Stanford.

WR Francis Owusu (Christian Oaks High in Oxnard, Calif.) -- Owusu is rated the nation's 101st overall prospect by PrepStar and 178th by Rivals.com. He caught 50 passes for 935 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior and also rushed seven times for 206 yards and two touchdowns. He was a member of the 400-meter CIF Southern Section Champion relay team as a junior. The 6-foot-3, 193-pound Owusu is the younger brother of former Stanford WR Chris Owusu. He should get a chance to play as a freshman.

LB Kevin Palma (Mission Oak High in Pixley, Calif.) -- Parma is ranked as the 10th best middle linebacker in the nation and 196th overall player by Scout.com, although he is unranked by Rivals.com. A big-play linebacker, Palma had 19 tackles for losses as a senior, including eight in one game.

QB Ryan Burns (Stone Bride High in Leesburg, Va.) -- The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Ryan is ranked as the sixth-best dropback quarterback and the 108th prospect overall by Rivals.com. Burns has a strong arm and is mobile enough to run. He passed for 2,530 yards as a senior, and his team was 51-6 during his four high school seasons. He did not play in the pro-style offense Stanford runs but showed during a Stanford camp that he can handle that system.

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