There are few positions in sport more anonymous than football's offensive lineman, but there are few positions more important. Chase Beeler (2008-10) transferred to Stanford after playing his freshman year at the University of Oklahoma, but his three years of dominant play easily earned him a spot on this list. He played left guard as a sophomore, but he truly excelled after taking over at the center position during his junior and senior seasons and becoming the anchor of the best offensive line in the country.
How good was that line? In Beeler's junior year he helped clear the way for what should've been a Heisman-winning season for running back Toby Gerhart. Gerhart himself gained 1,871 yards on the ground and scored 28 touchdowns, and the team totaled a school-record 2,837 yards. In 2010, Beeler's senior season, the focus of the offense shifted to quarterback Andrew Luck, and Beeler's offensive line protected him as if he were the Hope Diamond, allowing a season-long total of just six sacks. For his efforts, Beeler was named first team All-Pac-10 following both his junior and senior seasons, and he was a consensus All-American as a senior.
His longest lasting contribution to the Stanford program, however, may prove to be this quote: "We're going to win with character, but we're also going to win with cruelty." Beeler issued that statement during his junior season, and it perfectly articulated the change the program had gone through since the arrival of then-head coach Jim Harbaugh. The team had suddenly taken on a blue collar attitude and added a mean streak best exemplified by the dominance of the offensive line. The Stanford team we'll watch this fall will be physical and aggressive, and Chase Beeler was a key part of that transformation.
#19 Willie Howard
#20 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.