I have never been a big fan of the recruiting rating system because it clearly does not measure work ethic, mental toughness and overall potential accurately, but it is not going anywhere anytime soon. Top recruits are assigned stars (one to five) based on the evaluation of independent scouts. Once players arrive on campus, it becomes clear that recruiting is not an exact science, as many times five-star recruits do not live up to their billing and sometimes two and three-star recruits become first day draft picks in the NFL.
As we anxiously await to see how the 2016 signees will impact the Stanford program, it is the signees from a couple of years prior that should and will make the most impact this season. Although it seems like yesterday, you may have forgotten who exactly was a part of the 2013 class - a class of only twelve, made up of six 4-stars and six 3-stars.
While David Shaw praised the quality of this batch of signees, this class did not garner much attention from the various recruiting media outlets. First and foremost, it was devoid of any 5-star recruits and only consisted of 12 total signees, two major factors in final rankings. ESPN ranked this class 7th in the PAC-12 and #40 nationally, while 247 Sports ranked the class 10th in the PAC 12 and 51st nationally. Scout ranked the Cardinal 11th in the PAC 12 and 59th nationally, while Rivals ranked the class at a dismal 11th in the PAC 12 and 63rd nationally.
Ryan Burns was considered the crown jewel of this class, as he was ranked the #4 quarterback nationally. Behind Burns in fanfare and recognition was Peter Kalambayi; he was ranked the #4 OLB nationally and was also considered a top tier prospect. There was also a great deal of excitement about Francis Owusu, as older brother Chris had been a reliable player during his time at Stanford. Tight end Eric Cotton Jr. had shone nicely at various camps across the country and was considered the sleeper of the class.
Now that they are seniors, let's take a then and now look at the 2013 Stanford signees. What you will find below is a listing of all 12 of the 2013 signees, their ESPN recruiting star ranking, as well as a brief review of their Stanford careers.
The very highly recruited 4-star quarterback out of Ashburn, Virginia arrived in Palo Alto, no doubt planning to become the next great Cardinal signal caller. However, he has seen very limited action since arriving at Stanford, serving in a reserve role and only appearing in four games last season and two games in 2014. He did have a very strong spring performance and is currently battling Keller Chryst for the starting job.
Taboada was recruited to Stanford as a 4-star athlete, capable of playing multiple positions on offense and defense. With his length and athleticism, tight end was a natural fit. He has primarily served in a backup role appearing in all 14 games last year for the Cardinal but had limited production. He is currently listed #2 on the depth chart and will have a hard time unseating starter Dalton Schultz.
Owusu, a 4-star recruit from Southern California, was already known to the Cardinal faithful, courtesy of older brother Chris. Francis is best known for wowing football fans across the world in 2015 with his unreal touchdown grab of the season versus UCLA, but has had relatively quiet seasons for the Cardinal, hauling in only 13 catches for 175 yards and one TD last season and only 26 catches for 369 yards and two TDs for his career. However, Francis is a physical specimen and a legitimate NFL prospect, and with the departure of Devin Cajuste, I anticipate him having a breakout year.
Austin was a highly touted 4-star defensive end recruit, prepping at national powerhouse De La Salle. Austin moved to the offensive side of the ball, bursting on to the scene in 2014, finishing with 40 grabs for 499 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the 2015 campaign with 34 catches and 6 touchdowns. Along with garnering all PAC-12 honors, he was a finalist for the John Mackey Award and this past spring was drafted in the third round by the Atlanta Falcons.
A 4-star recruit Kalambayi did not see action as a freshman in 2013 but since 2014 has made his presence felt on the field. An athletic and physical player, he has totaled 84 tackles in two seasons. Last season was a breakout year for him, highlighted by the Washington game, in which he registered 3 sacks. He has been named to the Phil Steele preseason All PAC-12 team and is expected to be a leading contender for the Butkus award.
Barton was a 4-star recruit from Utah, who served a two-year mission prior to enrolling in the spring of 2015. He redshirted in 2015 and will be a special teams' contributor and play reserve OLB role in 2016.
Thomas was a 3-star WR recruit from Louisiana; he did not see action in his first two seasons on the farm and has played primarily special teams in 2015 season. In 2016, he will continue to contribute on special teams this season and will be a reserve pass catcher.
There were high hopes for Oser, a 3-star recruit from Southern California and the #11 ranked center but it never materialized. Oser sustained a knee injury and never fully recovered, leaving the team in the spring of 2015.
Palma was ranked a 3-star athlete, but quickly found his way to linebacker. While not seeing action in 2013, he quickly asserted himself in 2014, appearing in 11 games. Palma started all 14 games at inside linebacker in 2015 and will team with fellow linebacker Peter Kalambayi to again lead a staunch Cardinal defense.
Eric Cotton Jr.
Cotton was ranked a 3-star tight end, #19 nationally. With his 6'6 frame, I expected Cotton to develop into an NFL caliber tight end but he was moved over to defensive end. In his three prior seasons on the farm, he has served primarily in a reserve role and will look to do the same in 2016.
Bright was a 3-star OT, nationally ranked the #90 OT nationally out of Southern California powerhouse Mater Dei. Bright is a versatile, physical force and will fill the left offensive tackle position, vacated by Kyle Murphy, looking to join a long list of stellar Stanford offensive linemen who have made their mark in the PAC 12.
Tyler was a 3-star DE out of Ohio but has since transitioned to OLB. Tyler has appeared in many game over the past three seasons, primarily serving as a special teams' player and backup OLB. In 2016, he will continue to contribute on special teams and serve as the primary backup to Peter Kalambayi.