Any discussion of 2012 recruits comes with the understanding that even those players who have committed to the Cardinal could change their minds. Nothing is official until national signing day on February 1, 2012, so recruiting news should be read through that filter. It's an inexact science, but it's simply too much fun to ignore.
There's really only one thing you need to know about Aziz Shittu. It's not that he's from Atwater, California, or that he's a 6'3" defensive tackle who tips the scales at 275. You don't even really need to know that, according to Shittu, he chose Stanford "not because of the next four years of my life but because of the next whole part of my life."
All of that's nice, but here's the one piece of information that really matters: Shittu has earned a five-star recruiting rating from Rivals.com, which is pretty significant. The Rivals 100 is a list that fluctuates throughout the season, but there are currently only 17 five-star players, and Shittu (#12 on the list) is one of them. Stanford recruiting has definitely picked up over the past five years, starting with the arrival of Jim Harbaugh, but Harbaugh was never able to convince a five-star player to come to Palo Alto. Shittu's verbal commitment signals two things: one, new head coach David Shaw can certainly recruit; and two, last season's success has certainly made an impression with the top football players in the country.
But how good might Aziz be at Stanford? Pretty good. He has the size to be a perfect fit for the critical nose tackle position in the 3-4 right now, and I'm guessing he'll gain at least another twenty-five pounds by the time he pulls on a Cardinal jersey for the first time in the fall of 2012 and could develop into the anchor of the defensive line. Better than that, he could be the anchor of a landmark 2012 recruiting class as other top players follow his lead and commit to the Mighty Card.