Stanford's success helps recruiting

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Stanford's success helps recruiting

Postby GreenvilleEagle on Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:42 am

Someone forward the attached article to William Leahy.

Stanford fans might look back regretfully to the Washington and Notre Dame losses and wonder how those games might have gone if Kevin Hogan had been the quarterback.

They might wonder if the Cardinal could have reached the BCS Championship Game.

They shouldn't dwell on this topic too long. Even Hogan acknowledges he didn't have sufficient command of the playbook back then.

The fact of the matter is Stanford wasn't considered to be in the hunt for the national title. All along, most observers assumed it would lose again to Oregon. By the time the Cardinal beat Oregon, they already had two losses, so the best they could do was the Rose Bowl.

No problem there. Tuesday's date with Wisconsin in Pasadena is all the Stanford players have been shooting for since they were recruited. Now the goals might be higher.

But what would it take for the Cardinal to be in the title hunt? Probably a playmaker or two at wide receiver. Next season, quarterback Kevin Hogan will be behind another superior offensive line, and the defense should be excellent again.

"Our defense probably will lose three of us," senior linebacker Chase Thomas said. "The offense has a lot of guys coming back. So the next couple of years, they're definitely going to be national-title contenders."

Head coach David Shaw recently said he thought the national title "is still to a certain degree out of our reach - not out of our reach but out of our sphere of influence because it's still voting, still BCS."

He said the focus in years ahead will remain on winning the Pac-12. "If we can win our conference, we'll have a shot at those other big deals," he said.

Besides looking for smart, fast and skilled players, Stanford wants toughness, something that - until recent years - was in short supply on the Farm. "You don't make a kid tough," Shaw said Sunday. "You find a tough kid."

In his second season as head coach, Shaw and his team proved they could win without one of the greatest players in school history, Andrew Luck. They finally knocked off Oregon, a huge mental and physical hurdle.

Here in Southern California, it's a bigger deal to recruits that the Cardinal have beaten USC four straight times and UCLA five straight times.

Among the recruits watching Stanford's open practice on Friday at the Home Depot Center in Carson was Brad Kaaya, a 6-foot-4 junior quarterback for Chaminade College Prep in West Hills. This season, he completed 68 percent of his passes for a 12-2 team that lost in the CIF Southern Section title game.

"Stanford is a cooler place now than USC and UCLA," Kaaya said. "People are anxious to get out of this area."

Kaaya knows Hogan is entrenched as Stanford's quarterback for at least the next two years. That will figure in his decision, he said, but "I don't mind redshirting."

Nor did Hogan's rising status keep Ryan Burns, a four-star quarterback from Ashburn, Va., from standing by his March 12 verbal commitment to Stanford.

"It's a top-10 school in both academics and athletics," Burns said. "It's been my dream school since I was little. I went to their camp the last two summers."

Another blue-chip prospect in Stanford's 2013 incoming class is 6-3 wide receiver Francis Owusu, the brother of former Cardinal wideout Chris Owusu, now with the Buccaneers. His father calls him "a bigger version of Chris." The coaches have told him he'll have a good chance to play as a freshman.

"My goal is the national championship," Francis Owusu said. "It's definitely a possibility."

Although the number might rise depending on how many juniors enter the NFL draft, Stanford will bring in only about 13 freshmen next fall, its smallest class in many years. With a deep roster already, it concentrated on positions of need. It grabbed four-star linebackers Sean Barton of Woods Cross, Utah, and Peter Kalambayi of Matthews, N.C. (Barton plans to take a two-year LDS mission before entering school.)

"The fact we're able to have high academic standards and compete in three straight bowl games is really unheard of," Shaw said.

As a result, Stanford's nationwide recruiting appeal has never been stronger.

"It definitely has gotten easier," outside linebackers coach and admissions-liaison Lance Anderson said. "Now, the admissions standards have stayed the same. If anything, they've gotten even tougher. But we're very aware of what those standards are.

"Where it's gotten easier is that nationwide, a lot more kids know what Stanford is. They know they can compete for a BCS championship and get the best education."

Tom FitzGerald is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @tomgfitzgerald

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