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.
The future of Stanford Football got even brighter on Tuesday afternoon when Jordan Watkins made his verbal commitment to the Cardinal. Watkins is a 6'5" 265 pound defensive tackle from College Park, Georgia, and he's the fourth four-star defensive prospect to commit to Stanford's 2012 recruiting class. It can sometimes be difficult for fans to evaluate defensive players based on highlight packages, but you can usually guage a player's prospects based on the list of schools recruiting him. Watkins received thirty-five offers, including scholarships from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Oregon. That list speaks the truth.
It gets better from there. Recruiting is a ticklish process, and verbal commitments in September don't always translate into signed letters of intent in February. This is true even for the football factories, but even more so for Stanford, where a last-minute denial from the admissions office can force a recruit to head elsewhere. Watkins is an academically-minded young man. His mother is a lawyer, and his father graduated from M.I.T., so the academic reputation of the University was a big selling point. Admission shouldn't be an issue.
The significance of this could be huge. Recruits are like dominos; when a big one falls into place, others often follow. Coach Shaw and his staff have already assembled an impressive group of defenders, with commitments from defensive back Alex Carter, linebacker Noor Davis, defensive end Luke Kaumatule, and now Watkins. With another four-star linebacker/defensive end and a five-star defensive tackle still sitting as strong possibilities, this could develop into one of the best defensive classes in the history of Stanford football, and something like that could reach over to the other side of the ball and sway the running backs and offensive linemen that are currently considering the Cardinal.
February 1st could be a big, big day.