Depending on where you check your recruiting rankings, Stanford was a top 20(Rivals), top 25(Scout) or top 30(ESPN) for the 2015 season. For me personally, it is Rivals but here's the point -- Stanford has put up another top recruiting class using more handicaps than a golfing duel with Rory Mcilroy. Stanford has the LOWEST acceptance rate out of any college in America. This is not an ‘apply and get in' school like some (COUGH COUGH SEC).
Stanford has sat in the bottom of the recruiting rankings for years but recently it has slowly crept up to the top. Starting in 2009, Stanford had a top 20 class that featured Stephan Taylor, Tyler Gaffney, Shayne Skov, Trent Murphy, and Ben Gardner. It was a shock to see Stanford recruit nationally in football. Going 8-5 and making a bowl game was a cute little Cinderella story. Following a couple of good recruiting classes, 2012 happened. If the world was supposed to end, Stanford did not get the memo. It was the greatest recruiting haul in the history of the program. A top 5 class that beat out recruiting powers like Florida St, USC, Oklahoma, and Georgia. That group included All-Conference cornerback Alex Carter, Barry Sanders (STOP RUNNING POWER WITH HIM SHAW), 2-sport extraordinaire Zach Hoffpauir, and the 3-headed monster of Peat, Murphy, and Garnett. The 2012 class had 22 student-athletes who were ready to keep Stanford Football relevant for years to come.
The incoming Nerds of 2015 also have a class of 22 and those 22 recruits may be better as a whole than the 2012 unit. However, for incoming freshman at Stanford, it's tough to beat out players who have already been a part of the "Shannon Turley Project"; arguably the best strength and conditioning coach in the country, he builds up young men to be able to distribute the brutality Stanford football is known for.
Of the 22 incoming recruits, of course, I'm most excited to see Wide Receiver Trent Irwin. He is the only 5-star recruit in the class and is the only 5-star receiver recruit in Stanford history. When he steps onto campus, everyone including returners Michael Rector and Devon Cajuste better look out. It is always a good sign when a Gatorade Player of the Year winner is playing second fiddle. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside of Roebuck, South Carolina is a 6'3" 210 monster that should also fight for more immediate playing time. If you could not keep up with the musical chairs Shaw had implemented in the running game last year, don't even try this year. Stanford has 4 more runners coming to the farm that could fight for immediate playing time.
The 2015 Cardinal have 4 returning starters on the offensive line but that does not mean you stop recruiting. Offensive line has been the key to Stanford success the past 6 years and the recruit that could play right away is 6'8" 290 pound Jack Dreyer. If he can move with that body at the next level right away, he will play the ogre position immediately.
Lance Anderson and the Defense
The key to recruiting at Stanford and particularly on the defensive side has been Lance "The Dance" Anderson. If anyone works harder than that man, let me know. He was tasked to find a select few that could play right away. Stanford needs defensive backs and defensive backs are what they received. Four of the nation's best defensive backs are coming with a vengeance to play and they all said the right thing about not stepping on toes but they could all play in 2015. The accident of Stanford turning a decent big bodied wide receiver into a future all-pro cornerback a few years ago worked so why not try to do it on purpose. 4-star defensive backs Frank Buncom IV, Quentin Meeks, and Ben Edwards all have the size and speed to play against the 8-billion top recruits that USC and UCLA have gotten over the last couple of years. Don't forget about Justin Reid, brother of San Francisco 49ers Eric Reid to make a blip on this year's radar.
The Party in the Backfield part 2 starts with two Defensive linemen, Wesley Annan and Dylan Jackson. Unfortunately for Stanford, they may have to play right away, ready or not, due to lack of depth. Linebacker has been the one position Stanford has been plentiful and adding 3 quality linebackers in this class only helps. If I had to pick one to watch for in the 2015 season, it's Jordan Fox out of New Jersey who has the body of NFL Linebacker Luke Kuechly. Fox probably needs the least amount of time in the weight room to get college-ready.
There are 2 recruits who are not going to be talked about much nationally but have skills that may be the most ideal for Stanford in the upcoming season. Kicker Jake Bailey is the starter until further notice. With Jordy leaving, Stanford has nobody and Bailey can come in right away. There might be a secret walk-on who will compete but we'll leave that for now. The other recruit is Jabiari Tyler. He's 5'8" and 170 pounds. He was lucky enough to have a few recruiting services give him 2-stars. He's not ranked at his position, his state, or the nation.....WATCH HIS HIGHLIGHT TAPE. The kid is electric and he will find a way to get on the field for Stanford. He might not play early on but watch him.
This 2015 class has fewer 5-stars than 2012, a lower average rating per recruit, and are not in the top-5 nationally, however, this might be the best class to hit Stanford. If Stanford is going to compete for a National Title in the next couple of years, at least half of these kids will be the reason. Shaw and Co. have proven they can recruit with the best. Now it's time to show you can compete on the field with the best every time Stanford takes the field.... And not just against Division 8 opponents (CAL).