To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about putting Shayne Skov (2009-) here at #20. I'm quite certain that if I were making this list a year or two from now, Skov would be firmly in the top ten. There's no question that he's one of the most talented defenders of the past twenty-five years, but a ranking higher than this would have more to do with his potential than his on-field accomplishments, so here he sits.
Even though his talent hasn't yet translated into All-America or even All-Conference recognition, that shouldn't diminish his impact on the field. He played in all thirteen games as a freshman and earned a starting position at inside linebacker midway through the season. He entered his sophomore season as the acknowledged starter, and even though he missed the first two games with an injury, he still rebounded to lead the team in tackles and sacks and finished second in tackles for loss. More important than that, he developed into the emotional leader of one of the best defenses in the country.
Those of us who watched the Cardinal all season long knew all this, but college football fans across the nation were introduced to Skov with his dominant performance in the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech, as he harassed Hokie quarterback Tyrod Taylor all night long. Here's what I wrote at the time:
Stanford's defensive star (and GMC's Orange Bowl MVP) was sophomore linebacker Shayne Skov. Rocking a vicious mohawk and enough eye black to make Alice Cooper proud, Skov was flying around the field all night long, whether covering tight ends down field, stuffing running backs at the line, or pulling down Taylor in the backfield. It was the best game of his young career, and I'm certain it will earn him several preseason mentions on various All-PAC-12 and even All-America lists.
As I look towards next season, there are a lot of things I'm excited about, and one of them certainly is the continued development of Shayne Skov.
#21 DeRonnie Pitts
#22 Anthony Bookman
#23 Sione Fua
#24 Richard Sherman
#25 John Hopkins
*My first thought was to try to come up with a list of the best Stanford football players of all-time, but I quickly realized that I'm not qualified. I've only been watching Stanford football since the fall of 1987, so I can't really comment intelligently on players who suited up before then. Sure, I know that Jim Plunkett belongs, but I know nothing about Randy Vataha. Sports Illustrated once named Ernie Nevers the greatest college football player of all-time, and that's certainly good enough for me, but how can I possibly rank him against players of a more modern era? So I decided to create a list of the best Stanford players that I've actually seen in my time as a fan, and since that's roughly twenty-five years, I'm calling it the Silver Squad. (Catchy, isn't it?) Anyway, I'd love to hear your own memories of these players, and I won't be offended if you argue about who should or should not have been included on this list. Enjoy.