Blog Entry

Stanford's continued success to begin up front

Posted on: February 1, 2012 4:54 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 6:28 pm

Posted by Tom Fornelli

After Jim Harbaugh left Stanford for the San Francisco 49ers following the 2010 season, there were plenty of people openly wondering about how successful the program would be, even with Andrew Luck returning for another season. The Cardinal responded to any doubters by returning to the program's second consecutive BCS bowl.

Now that Andrew Luck will be taking his talents to the NFL, there are even more doubters about what Stanford will be on the football field in the future. While we won't know for sure for another seven months, if National Signing Day is any indication, the Cardinal are going to be just fine.

Stanford put the finishing touches on one of the best recruiting classes in the country on Wednesday, a class that is currently ranked #11 in the CBS Sports National Signing Day Top 25. 

Throughout the day big name recruits like Andrus Peat (pictured above in black), Aziz Shittu, Alex Carter, Kyle Murphy, Noor Davis, and Barry Sanders sent their signatures through a fax machine on their way to Palo Alto. The signatures of football players who should go on to prove that Stanford football is much more than just Andrew Luck or Jim Harbaugh.

The biggest reason this signing class will have such a positive impact on the program is because of the biggest players -- literally -- that were a part of it. The Cardinal signed six of the top offensive lineman in the country in Peat, Murphy, Joshua Garnett, Graham Shuler, Nick Davidson and Brandon Fanaika.

Stanford head coach David Shaw said his offensive line class "could be one of the best in modern football history," and I'm inclined to agree with him.

Matt Hinton of Yahoo's Dr. Saturday blog joked on Twitter Wednesday that Stanford's haul of offensive lineman was so impressive that whoever ends up playing quarterback behind it will have enough time to finish their homework while standing in the pocket. While that may be true, Stanford's identity the last few seasons, the one that has led them to BCS bowl games, has not been that of a passing team. 

No, this is a squad that likes to line up their big men against yours and ram the ball down your throat with a power running game.

A tradition that should continue thanks to this newest class of offensive lineman, plus the running back skills of Barry Sanders. Yes, this Barry Sanders happens to be the son of the running back of the same name who dazzled football fans at both Oklahoma State and in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. So we know of the talent that flows in his blood.

Of course, the Cardinal didn't just pay attention to needs on offense, as it added players like defensive lineman Aziz Shittu, linebacker Noor Davis and defensive back Alex Carter. Three premiere recruits at each level of the defense. The type of defensive playmakers that are needed in a Pac-12 conference that seems ready to explore the very edges of what college offenses are capable of.

So if you were one of the people that were ready for Stanford to fall back to the 2-10 seasons of old and fade from national relevance, it looks like you're going to be waiting a bit longer. 

Photo of Andrus Peat by Marc Estrada

Keep up with all the latest from National Signing Day at's National Signing Day Central.

Since: Mar 30, 2008
Posted on: February 4, 2012 1:27 pm

Stanford's continued success to begin up front

From what I understand, next year's recruiting class will be pretty rich in top-shelf QBs. With what we are establishing here now, we may take a step back to a 7/8/9 win season, something like that. However, I have already seen where David Shaw has said that many of the top QBs for next years class are already interested in Stanford, and they have begun communications. This is great because it can help insure they are ready for the Stanford academic requirements.

This team has tremendous momentum right now, and I think it will definitely continue.

Since: Jan 6, 2008
Posted on: February 2, 2012 11:37 pm

Stanford's continued success to begin up front

This class signing was amazing.  And not just for the 7 stud OLs that will ensure trench superiorty for the next 3-4 years.  The DL recruits Shittu and and Watkins are going to be unbelievable for Stanford.  It appears they will not miss a beat despite Martin/DeCastro/Masafilo leaving.  Their LBs will ALL be back, and are getting even better with Skov returning and Noor Davis joining in.  And it is very likely that the secondary will be much improved this year, with Wayne Lyons (who bears the 'coach on the field' moniker already) returning from injury, and Alex Carter bolstering the CBs.  Remains to be seen about the WR situation, but it seems at least a couple of the 4 recruits will contribute this year, along with Montgomery and Patterson. 

The big early test will be USC in week 3 (!).  If the OL and Defensive front 7 are as good as advertised, Stanford will be tough to beat regardless of who's playing QB for them.

Since: Apr 19, 2009
Posted on: February 2, 2012 4:43 pm

Stanford's continued success to begin up front

Stanford got a couple real linemen but in a year if not soner it's back to mediocrity for the Cardinal.

Since: Oct 1, 2006
Posted on: February 2, 2012 3:44 pm

Stanford's continued success to begin up front

Jim Harbaugh instilled the running culture with big physical lineman at Stanford.  It's good to see the culture continues. 

Since: Feb 11, 2009
Posted on: February 2, 2012 3:39 am

Stanford's continued success to begin up front

Defense is where Stanford needed help.  Their offense looked pretty solid, but they need to be able to keep other teams from forcing the offense to win games. 

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: February 1, 2012 10:42 pm

Stanford's continued success to begin up front

The Cardinal rises and Cal slips.  Looks like the AXE is safe for a long time to come.

Way to go coach Shaw.  It wasn't all LUCK.

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