Stanford has always been the pinnacle of schools when it comes to academics AND athletics and being great at just one of those things is tough enough but growing up in a Stanford family, you learn that the challenge of being excelling at both makes life interesting. Now Stanford football has been on the rise of late and the program as a whole has improved.
The recruiting has been one of the most fascinating things to watch as High School All-Americans all over the country are now interested in Stanford where as even 10 years ago, some of those recruits had no idea where Stanford was even located.
I'm happy to say that one of those recruits is not only local to the Bay Area, but is a close family friend of mine. That recruit is 6'1" 206 pound sophomore linebacker Kyle Harmon who attends Freedom High School in Oakley, California. He currently holds a 4.0 GPA and won an award for Scholar Athlete given to him by the NCS (North Coast Section). I recently sat down with Kyle to have an interview about how the process is going as he is trying to finish up finals, prepare for summer workouts and football camps, and have time in between to hang out with his friends and family.
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NN23: Hey Kyle, I'm glad we've finally had time to meet up. I'm shocked Nike or Under Armour didn't have another camp for you.
KH: Ha ha ha (laughs), Yes, I was off this weekend but I have a workout in a couple hours so can you hurry up.... Just kidding.
NN23: Ok so down to business. You are currently a sophomore linebacker for Freedom and some would say that if you weren't so young, you would have had scholarships coming in the mail every day.
KH: I wouldn't say that necessarily but I had a good season. You can always strive to be better though.
NN23: As a sophomore, you led the BVAL (Bay Valley Athletic League) in tackles (122) and sacks (4.5). You were first team all-league as a sophomore. That's pretty good and you still have two years to get better. What are you trying to do better in the upcoming year(s)?
KH: Those are good numbers but like I said, you can always get better and I strive to be the best but I can only get better as I help my teammates and my teammates help me. We push each other and our goal is to win the BVAL title. As for me personally, If I had to pick one thing that motivates me right now, I was 2nd team all-Bay Area and 2nd team all-state and I want to be 1st team all-state.
NN23: You were 1 of only 2 sophomores on the all-Bay Area team and yet you have gotten little recognition nationally compared to fellow sophomore Najee Harris, who plays for Antioch High School and recently committed to Alabama. How do you feel about that?
KH: Najee is a great player and he has earned everything he has received so I can't say anything bad about him and the recognition isn't a big deal to me. Luckily for our team, we beat them 24-13 and I had 10 tackles. Football is a game and hopefully it takes me to the next level but Jesus Christ is the number 1 priority in my life and he has a goal for me and if I haven't gotten noticed, it's because Jesus has another road for me when it comes to football.
NN23: I too am religious and thank God for everything but who is the one person you have looked up to or thanked for your blessings besides Jesus?
KH: My dad, absolutely. He taught me to strive to be the best without putting the pressure of being the best. He always knew what my limits were and he knew when and when not to push me. He always told me that he would be behind me in whatever I wanted to do in life but I had to give 110% and never give up on my dreams.
NN23: Tell me about how your dad's illness affected you both on and off the field and how the game after his passing affected you during your freshman season?
KH: I knew he was sick but I didn't realize how sick and I went to practice that Thursday because it was walk-throughs and any absence takes away from playing on Friday. I wanted to go visit my dad but I knew he would tell me to go to practice. Throughout the entire practice, I had a weird feeling and when I got home, my mom broke the news to me that he had passed.
NN23: How did it affect you right away and how have you learned to overcome with the loss of your dad?
KH: Well at such a young age, it definitely takes a toll on you. I didn't know what to do the following day but luckily, I had a strong support group between my family, friends, teammates, coaches, and everyone else to keep me going through the tough times.
NN23: You played for your dad that day, and every day since and how did that game following your dad's passing go?
KH: I had 4 touchdowns, 16 tackles, and 2 forced fumbles. I thank God for everything but that day, it was my dad looking over me and guided me through those rough few months.
NN23: Now, unlike myself, you haven't seen much torture from the Stanford football program. Would you have looked at Stanford the same way if we had this conversation 10 years ago?
KH: Oh yes! I'm not a bandwagon Stanford fan or any bandwagon fan for that matter. My dream school has always been Stanford for its tremendous respect to the academic and athletic world. I always knew Stanford was my dream school but in 2009, watching Toby Gerhart put Stanford on the map again was the topper. Stanford may be nationally relevant again but I still look at them as the underdog and the degree I could receive from Stanford would be the ultimate.
NN23: Last question Kyle. This is to Coach Shaw and the rest of the Stanford family, who would you say you play like and why should Coach Shaw offer you a scholarship?
KH: Really putting me on the spot now aren't you? Well I have enjoyed watching Shayne Skov play and he wasn't just an ordinary linebacker. He played with above average game speed, even after his injury. He had some of the best instincts I've seen as a player and that's comparing pro linebackers as well. I also think he was a field general in the fact that he tried to do everything and when his team needed him to make a play, he loved having the responsibility to help out his team. As far as Coach Shaw, I am a big believer in Jesus Christ as you are yourself. I put academics first and thankfully, I have a 4.0 GPA to prove it. I work hard but hard work isn't always enough and I put in more hours by myself which I call "lonely work" because nobody sees me and can congratulate me on. I'm only a sophomore yes but I think it would be a misfortune if Coach Shaw overlooked me. That's not as player but as a person.
NN23: Thanks Kyle, I'll let you go and best of luck to you. Can't wait for future interviews.
KH: Thank you again. I'll talk to you soon.
Kyle Harmon is a down to earth kid who has worked hard at everything he's done and hopefully he'll get the recognition he may not want or ask for but he clearly deserves. I have watched Kyle on and off the field and he has what it takes to become a Stanford man one day. When he breaks out, you heard it here first