The 2013 Stanford recruiting class - including one more "recruit" - is now official. And we wouldn't want the new guys to go without a proper introduction, right?
The first thing to know is that this class is full of big, big guys. This crowd of 12 could single-handedly keep big and tall stores in business. According to Rivals, everyone in this class is ranked in the top 90 at their position, and the majority of these guys are ranked in the top 30 or 40 at their position, including the few who are going to switch positions in college.
But before we get too in-depth about the numbers - we all know those stars and rankings don't mean everything - let's break down each of the recruits based on their scouting tape - starting with the headliners.
Quarterback Ryan Burns earned four stars from Rivals, and he looks like the prototypical Stanford quarterback under David Shaw - tall, mobile, and extremely adept at keeping his head downfield on the action.
The 6-foot-5, 225- pound Burns would seem to be an obvious fit for the Cardinal, but with Kevin Hogan nailing down the starting spot this season, I have to imagine that Burns will redshirt this fall and focus on getting comfortable with the system. Remember, even Andrew Luck redshirted as a freshman, and Burns has some Luck-like attributes already.
Wide receiver Francis Owusu is former Stanford receiver Chris Owusu's younger brother, and he's sure to make an impact for the Card right away this year. Already, he looks like everything his brother was and more big, agile, good in traffic and in possession of excellent hands. Owusu shouldn't have much trouble getting onto the field this fall, and I think he could definitely be one of the Cardinal's top three receivers by the end of next season.
Outside linebacker Peter Kalambayi - a guy who will give copy editors fits for years to come - looks like he'll be a player that can compete for Chase Thomas' open outside linebacker spot this year. He's quick to the quarterback, makes good choices and takes good angles - all things that the defensive coaches will love to see.
Another linebacker to watch is Mike Tyler. Tyler is huge - 6-foot-5, 225 pounds - but he runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds and has some extreme athleticism. He already boasts a few different pass-rushing moves, including a pretty solid spin move, and while it might take a little while for him to get adjusted to the college game (those spin moves don't work as well at the next level), he looks like the successor to Trent Murphy on the edge.
Staying on the defensive side of the ball, Derek Mason has found his next Usua Amanam in the defensive backfield - except this time, it's cornerback Taljuan Thomas. The 5-foot-9 Thomas definitely has the speed to step in and play right away, but he might need some seasoning before he can secure a hold on that nickel corner spot. He'll be interesting to watch because redshirt freshman Wayne Lyons and true freshman Alex Carter both played a lot last season - so will Thomas do the same? Time will tell.
Back on offense, the group of three tight ends may be the players who make the most immediate impacts. Much like the last year's class of offensive linemen who played a lot this year, all three tight ends may find themselves on the field this year.
The player that may stand out the most on video is Eric Cotton, a huge tight end from Idaho who looks like a player who was criminally underrated because of the talent going against him. He's far and away the biggest, strongest player on the field in all of his high school highlights, and he looks to perfectly fit the mold of a Stanford tight end. However, when you watch more film, it becomes even more of a toss-up between Cotton and Austin Hooper and Greg Taboada. Hooper played at the legendary De La Salle high school, which produced players like Maurice Jones-Drew, and Taboada comes to the Farm all the way from Georgia. Both look like almost the same player - big kids that can throw mean blocks from the end of the line of scrimmage, but also have the raw athleticism that lets them run like antelopes down the field. Someday, this group could make Fleener-Toilolo-Ertz be recognized as "The First Tree's Company."
Moving down the offensive line, a name on the rise during the recruiting season was center Thomas Oser, who garnered offers from Oregon, Oregon State, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, among other. Oser is a true center who will definitely be groomed to start down the road - the complexity of the Stanford offense means he definitely won't start this fall - but OC Mike Bloomgren seems to really like his growth as a player over the past year and what he could bring to the table some day.
David Bright, the other lineman in the class, is another extremely athletic guard/tackle who perfectly fits what Stanford's offensive line needs - a guy who can get downfield and throw blocks. Odds are that he won't see the field a whole lot this season, but does have good size to build on.
Altogether, this small group of players should garner a lot of attention this fall when the team heads to camp - because they'll be ready to compete to play and make an impact right away.