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.
I spoke to a friend this evening about the state of the current Stanford football recruiting class, and a simple question was posed: "Why would someone choose anyplace but Stanford?" That's a long discussion for another time, but if we focus that question a bit and apply it to someone who blocks out the sun as he stands in a doorway and aspires to be a doctor after playing in the NFL, it just might be the key to what could become the greatest recruiting class in Stanford history.
We'll know a lot more about that six days for now, but right now we know that offensive lineman Josh Garnett from Puyallup, Washington, has chosen Stanford. Garnett had narrowed his choices down to a final three before eliminating Notre Dame, then chose Stanford over Michigan in a news conference at Puyallup High School on Thursday afternoon. (Garnett had previously rejected offers from Auburn, Miami, Nebraska, Oklahoma, USC, Oregon, and six other Pac-12 schools.)
How good is Garnett? Rivals.com ranks him as the 33rd best overall prospect in the nation, their highest ranked four-star player, and the second-best offensive guard in the country. Scout.com is typically a bit more liberal in their rankings (they've got fifty five-star players compared to Rivals' thirty-three), but they've got Garnett at #42. MaxPreps.com also gives him five stars as their 26th ranked recruit.
Regardless of which number you choose to believe, Garnett is the most highly-touted offensive line prospect ever to commit to the Cardinal. (But stay tuned; he could lose that title within the week.) Garnett has played both guard and tackle, and it isn't yet clear where he might line up at Stanford. It's that versatility (along with his size and athleticism) that caused so many different programs to covet his services. He has the strength to play tackle and hold off pass-rushing defensive ends, but also the technical skill necessary to play guard and pull down the line in Stanford's various power formations.
Individually, Garnett's commitment is huge (he's good enough that he could actually compete for David DeCastro's open right guard position), but combined with the verbals from four-star recruits Nick Davidson, Brandon Fanaika, and Graham Shuler, this is already the highest regarded offensive line class in Stanford history. If five-star tackle Kyle Murphy chooses Stanford as expected, this would be one of the best offensive line hauls for any school in recent memory. And if five-star Andrus Peat selects Stanford over Nebraska? Fuhgeddaboudit. (During his announcement, Garnett hinted that there were some five-star recruits ready to commit Cardinal.)
In each of the last three years Stanford has featured one of the best offensive lines in the nation, but not a single player on any of those three lines received more than three stars as a high school senior. What would a line constructed of four- and five-star recruits look like? I don't know about you, but I can't wait to find out. I'm guessing Barry J. Sanders is thinking the same thing.
[Photo Credit: Tom Lemming]