How good an athlete is Stanford signee Joey Alfieri? Even though Stanford and signed him as a linebacker, Alfieri also played running back for Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon. Using a three-game stretch during which he gained a preposterous 955 yards and scored 12 touchdowns, Alfieri worked his way towards the top of the state rushing leaderboard before falling victim to a knee injury that derailed his season. (The injury isn't expected to curtail his Stanford career.)
Alfieri is one of the top outside linebacker prospects in the nation, and most of the major recruiting services are in agreement (Rivals, #11; Scout, #10; 247, #17; ESPN, #34). At 6-2 and 230 pounds, Alfieri will need to add some weight if he's to stick on the outside as a pass-rushing linebacker, but he certainly has the speed and athleticism to drop into coverage against tight ends and even running backs. He has run the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds, and his performance at The Opening, one of the most prestigious high school football camps in America, was outstanding. His SPARQ score, a measurement of a football player's overall athleticism, was 133.32. That led all outside linebackers and is the fifteenth-best score for any position.
Alfieri's athleticism and versatility come across in his highlight video. In the first half you'll see what you'd expect to see when an elite linebacker is competing against kids whose football careers will end after the Homecoming Dance: lots of crushing tackles. But the second half of the video features Alfieri on the offensive side of the ball. He clears out running lanes as a fullback, gashes through the defense as a tailback, and even catches balls out of the backfield. I doubt we'll see those skills at Stanford (there will never be another Owen Marecic), but I definitely see a Pick Six or two in his future.
Alfieri's signing, though, is about more than just the on-field impact he will have in years to come. It reinforces what we've been talking about here for the past three years. With All-Pac-12 selections in each of the past two seasons (Chase Thomas, 2011-12; Trent Murphy, 2012-13; Shayne Skov, 2013), and a stable of talent currently on the roster (A.J. Tarpley, Jarek Lancaster, James Vaughters, Noor Davis, and Peter Kalambayi), Stanford is building a legacy of greatness at the linebacker position. Joey Alfieri is the next in line.