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.
Previously Featured: Drew Terrell
Name: Anthony Wilkerson
Career Stats: 144 carries, 691 yards, 6 TDs
Shoes to Fill: Jeremy Stewart, Tyler Gaffney
Where He Came From: Wilkerson, who played at Tustin (Calif.), was rated as the No. 21 running back in the Class of 2010 by Rivals.com. He considered offers from Colorado, Washington, UCLA and Utah before committing to Stanford in the summer of 2009. "I think I'm violent on the field because I'm not going to try to juke you," Wilkerson said at the time. "If I've got the ball and you're in my way I'll run you over."
What He's Done: Wilkerson ran over a few would-be tacklers as a true freshman, carrying the ball 89 times for 408 yards, which ranked
second third on the team behind Stepfan Taylor and Andrew Luck. Wilkerson was used sparingly in the first eight games of the season, but had double-digit carries in each of the Cardinal's final four regular-season games. While Wilkerson carried only two times in Stanford's blowout win over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, he seemed poised to compete for a more prominent role as a sophomore.
Wilkerson opened 2011 with eight carries for 14 yards in the Cardinal's rout of San Jose State and had only 20 carries over the next five games. He had a big game against Washington--who didn't?--with 93 yards and two touchdowns, but saw limited action the rest of the year.
Training Camp Outlook: Jeremy Stewart, Stanford's most dependable running back in short-yardage situations, graduated, and Tyler Gaffney opted to pursue a career in baseball, but the Cardinal's backfield remains quite crowded. Taylor is the team's clear-cut feature back and Wilkerson is No. 2 on the depth chart entering the fall. He'll face competition from sophomore Ricky Seale, who looked good in the spring, as well as redshirt freshman Remound Wright and highly touted recruit Barry J. Sanders. It will be interesting to see if Stanford employs a version of the Sequoia formation, which Gaffney thrived in.
Running backs coach Mike Sanford says Wilkerson is at his best when he's getting regular carries:
"Anthony is a prototypical running back and a home run hitter for us. He is a runner who needs his touches to get in rhythm and he thrives off being able to carry the ball 4, 5, 6 times in a row. He can wear you down because he's big and physical."
Wilkerson missed spring practice with a knee injury, but has fully recovered after dominating his rehab, according to David Shaw.
Wilkerson on Twitter: @AWilk32
Officially a coffee drinker— Anthony Wilkerson (@AWilk32) July 17, 2012
Alphabetically Speaking: On the list of Stanford's all-time letterwinners, Wilkerson falls between William M. Wiley (1972) and teammate Khalil Wilkes (2010, 2011).
Numerically Speaking: Halfback George Quist wore No. 32 from 1945-47 before being drafted in the second round--No. 13 overall--of the 1948 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.
Related Video: Wilkerson takes a seat instead of scampering into the end zone to seal a 17-13 win over ASU in 2010.
Fun Fact: Tustin High School has produced several NFL players, including DeShaun Foster and Frostee Rucker. In 2008, the school was tied with Dillard (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) for the most former players (6) on opening week rosters.