We have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the likes of Stepfan Taylor and Chase Thomas this season, but replacing Andrew Luck and the other members of last year's 11-win squad will require a team effort. Over the next 12 days we'll profile 12 less heralded Cardinal players whose ability to adjust to larger roles could determine whether Stanford is competing for a third straight BCS invite or settling for a spot in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
Name: Brendon Austin Position: OL Year: RS Fr. Ht./Wt.: 6-6/300 Career Stats: None. Redshirted last season. Shoes to Fill: Jonathan Martin
Where He Came From: Austin was a bulldozer of an offensive tackle at Chaparral High School in Parker, Colo., and was rated as the top recruit in the state when he committed to Stanford over Colorado and UCLA in 2010. Jim Harbaugh cryptically announced Austin's commitment via Twitter: "I received a Big call, Strong news that leaves the Cardinal riding Tall in the saddle tonight!" At 6-foot-6, Austin was the tallest member of Harbaugh's recruiting class at the time.
What He's Done: With little opportunity for playing time last season, Austin redshirted and added a few more pounds to his 6-6 frame. Austin's playing weight in high school was around 265. He was listed at 286 pounds in last year's media guide; this year he's up to an even 300.
Training Camp Outlook: Lombardi Award finalist and All-American left tackle Jonathan Martin is now with the Miami Dolphins, so there's a prime opportunity for Austin to seize the starting job. CardinalReport.com's Andy Drukarev discussed the Cardinal's various options along the offensive line with assistant coach Mike Bloomgren earlier this month. Here's Bloomgren on the battle for the starting left tackle spot:
"At this juncture you would say Brendon Austin, as long as he can stay healthy, he did some great things in the spring that impressed us and then you have the two freshmen, Andrus and Kyle."
"Someone has to protect the quarterback’s blind side, and Austin, a redshirt freshman, is the leading candidate. And if he’s not up to the task, true freshman Andrus Peat may be."
Peat, the massive (6-7/308) freshman out of Arizona, who Shaw has described as "freakish" and more game-ready than Martin and David DeCastro were as freshmen, is Austin's main competition. Fellow highly touted freshman Kyle Murphy (6-7/280) could probably use a year in the weight room and sophomore Cole Underwood is out for the season with a knee injury.
Peat has missed some time during fall camp with a hand injury, while Austin has performed well. The prediction here is that Austin wins the job.
Austin on Twitter: Austin doesn't appear to be on Twitter, so there will be no cryptic tweets about the status of his position battle from him.
Alphabetically Speaking: Austin falls between Peter August (1942, 46-47) and Charles A. Austin (1913-14) on Stanford's alphabetical list of all-time letterwinners.
Numerically Speaking: James McGillicuddy counts Austin's 74 among the handful of numbers he wore during his six years (2005-2010) on the Farm.
Related Video: Highlight videos of offensive linemen aren't particularly exciting, but Austin's features some great pancake blocks.
Fun Fact: When Austin was born in 1992, the name Brendon ranked No. 363 among baby names in the United States. The name's popularity would peak at No. 318 in 1998. In 2011, Brendon was the 739th-most popular name.