During a long bye week following the 62-7 stomping of Rice in Sydney, I took a look at some of Stanford’s less heralded talents who could become household names by the end of this season. Who knows; maybe one of these guys can become the next Solomon Thomas or Christian McCaffrey?
Running Back Cameron Scarlett
With Christian McCaffrey’s departure, the crowded stable that is the Cardinal running backs will be slotted into several different roles. Scarlett has already become Stanford’s version of LeGarrette Blount, a bruising short-yardage specialist. His strength and size have already manifested in the form of three touchdowns on six carries against Rice, two of which came from within five yards of the end zone. Scarlett definitely answered most of the lingering questions the Stanford faithful have had since the beginning of last year. If the rest of the season is anything like his performance in Sydney, the college football world could be looking at its next dominant power back.
Tight Ends Colby Parkinson & Kaden Smith
Although senior Dalton Schultz has been the face of #TightEndU for at least the last two years, there are more than a few young faces who are jockeying for a higher slot in the rotation. With two touchdowns against the Rice defense, the 6-foot-7 freshman seems to have already began his climb to become Keller Chryst’s tallest (and most relaible) pass target.
Now, I had the privilege of watching Kaden Smith blow the tops off of defenses while he was still at Flower Mound Marcus High. My high school alma mater was matched up in the same district as Smith’s Marauders for two years, and boy, was he unstoppable. After a redshirt year last year in order to assure full recovery of his torn ACL in his senior year, I’m hopeful Smith can emerge another reliable target for the Cardinal this season.
Strong Safety Justin Reid
Reid came on strong last season after several major injuries left the defensive backfield worse for wear. Now with many of those guys back to full strength for the 2017 campaign AND despite missing ‘defensive quarterback’ Dallas Lloyd, Reid will certainly look to reprise his hard-hitting style back to the gridiron in 2017. When Reid teams with Quinton Meeks, Alijah Holder and Frank Buncom IV, the unit is one of, if not, the best in the conference if not the entire nation.
Offensive Tackle Walker Little
The Rice game showed me that Little seems to have grabbed a hold of a rung in the ladder at right tackle. The camp battle between the much-balleyhooed freshman lineman and Devery Hamilton was one of the most intriguing to follow during summer practice and fall camp. Because the projected starter A.T. Hall did not board the plane for Sydney (for undisclosed reasons), it was unclear what the long-term answer would be. Based on the snap breakdown in the win over the Owls, it was obvious that Mike Bloomgren loves the young freshman from Houston.
Phillips has the most daunting job of all returning talent in college football: replacing the No. 3 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft who led the team in sacks and co-led in tackles. Solomon Thomas left big shoes to fill but Phillips has all the skills to rocket up lists of top defensive linemen in the Pac-12 Conference. I’m really excited for “Horrible Harry” to wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines and continue to do the #partyinthebackfield lineage proud.