When Jim Harbaugh arrived at Stanford in 2006, he came with the clear intention of transforming the program and instilling a sense of toughness, determination, and aggression. The logical staring point was the offensive line, and one of Harbaugh's first building blocks was Chris Marinelli (2006-09).
Marinelli played several different positions on the offensive line during the course of his four-year Stanford career, but finally found a home at left tackle during an impressive senior season. That 2009 team was led by Toby Gerhart, who ran roughshod over the opposition week after week while setting school single-season records for rushing yardage and touchdowns. Gerhart would eventually end up in New York City as a Heisman Trophy finalist, and he had his offensive line -- led by Marinelli -- to thank. That line also did an exceptional job protecting quarterback Andrew Luck as they allowed the second-fewest sacks in the nation.
Following that season, Marinelli was named to the All-Pac-10 team and was listed as a second-team All-America.
*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.
[Photo Credit: David Gonzales]