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 | Anthony Wilkerson | Henry Anderson | Ed Reynolds | Kevin Danser | Brendon Austin | James Vaughters | Jordan Richards | David Yankey
Name: Ryan Hewitt
Year: RS Jr.
Career Stats: 26 games played, 36 receptions, 298 yards, 5 TDs; 10 carries, 35 yards
Shoes to Fill: Coby Fleener
Where He Came From: Hewitt graduated from Mullen High School in Denver and was rated the 45th-best tight end prospect in the nation by Rivals.com. He had offers from four other Pac-12 schools, as well as Vanderbilt and Northwestern, but opted to join a Stanford recruiting class that included two of the top 10 tight ends in the country in Levine Toilolo and Zach Ertz.
What He's Done: Hewitt redshirted in 2009 and backed up The Perfect Football Player, Owen Marecic, in 2010. After Marecic graduated to the NFL, Hewitt became the Cardinals do-everything fullback. While he didn't play two ways like Marecic, he proved to be more of a two-way threat. Hewitt carried only 10 times for 35 yards, but all 10 of his carries went for first downs, including two fourth-down conversions. He added 34 catches (third on the team) for 282 yards and five touchdowns, and proved to be an effective blocker for Stepfan Taylor and the Cardinal's power rushing attack.
Training Camp Outlook: At Pac-12 Media Days, David Shaw said Hewitt is "the most versatile college football player you can find." During the same interview session, Shaw intimated that the Cardinal would continue to utilize three tight end sets in 2012, despite the loss of Coby Fleener. With little talk of Davis Dudchock or converted wideout Jemari Roberts stepping up to fill Fleener's shoes during fall camp, Hewitt could be primed for an even greater role in the passing game. With Jeremy Stewart gone, Hewitt should also become the Cardinal's primary short-yardage back. Of Stewart's 55 attempts last season, 14 came on third-and-short or fourth down. As a reliable blocker who manages to get open in the flat, don't be surprised if Hewitt is QBTBD's favorite target, especially early in the season. After twisting his ankle during Sunday's scrimmage, let's hope he's ready to go for San Jose State.
Hewitt on Twitter: @Huey_85
It's the little things in life...
Nothing better than freshly washed sheets— Ryan Hewitt (@Huey_85) July 30, 2012
Alphabetically Speaking: Hewitt falls between Ed Herring (1992) and Clifford L. Hey (1924) on the all-time list of Stanford football letterwinners.
Numerically Speaking: Academic All-American defensive tackle John D. Bergren (1980-83) wore No. 85 for the Cardinal.
Related Video: Hewitt just figured he'd score against Cal. Why not?
Fun Fact: Hewitt's high school, Mullen, opens the season against defending Colorado 4A state champion Valor Christian on Friday. Former Stanford star Ed McCaffrey's son, Christian, is a star running back for Valor, which boasts Jack Del Rio's son at QB.