Think for a moment about what Richard Sherman (2006-2010) has seen. When he arrived on campus as a wide receiver in 2006, he was part of what was probably the worst team in the history of Stanford football. That squad won just a single game and finished 1-11. In 2010 he was a defensive back and one of the senior leaders on an 11-1 squad that was clearly the best team in the history of Stanford football.
The odd thing about Sherman's transition from offense to defense is that he actually excelled on both sides of the ball. During his freshman season he led the team in receptions and receiving yards (34 for 581) and was named to the Pac-10's All-Freshman team. He improved on those numbers during a sophomore year that was highlighted by his memorable fourth down catch that extended the game-winning drive in the closing minutes of The Greatest Upset Ever over USC. Sherman seemed ready to blossom into a quality wide receiver, but a knee injury ended his junior year after only four games.
Upon his return the following season he volunteered to switch to corner, a position he had played in high school. That first year with the defense was ragged at times, but again Sherman found his way into a big moment, and again it was against USC. With the suddenly relevant Cardinal holding a 28-14 fourth quarter lead over the Trojans in the Coliseum, Sherman stepped in front of Matt Barkley pass and returned it forty-three yards for a touchdown that essentially ended the game. His improvement was steady that season, and by his final year he had become a fixture on the defense and a valuable team leader.
#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.