Stanford mailbag

April, 13, 2012
4/13/12
9:00
AM ET
Happy Friday the 13th.

We're back-loaded by a couple of weeks on questions since we had to make sure all of the videos Ted Miller shot during his trip got posted, so apologies for not getting to some of these sooner.

To the questions:

Malcolm in San Jose, Calif., writes: Who were the biggest pro day winners and losers?

Kevin Gemmell: I wouldn't say there were any losers. Any time ESPN comes out and televises the pro day, everyone is a winner. Any time you can get representatives from every NFL team in one spot to showcase your team, it's a good thing. In terms of winners, I would say Coby Fleener was probably the biggest winner. He got to do everything he couldn't at the combine and he did it well. His 40 time was great. He showed outstanding athleticism in the assorted tests and drills and Andrew Luck put him in a position to show off his hops. I also thought Johnson Bademosi had a pretty good pro day. He looked the part physically and might have worked himself into the draft. And, of course, Luck was a winner. He got to show off his arm strength, mobility and pure athleticism. There is only so much you can show in shorts and a T-shirt, but some of the throws he was making -- particularly the ones when he was on the move -- were impressive.

Anderson in San Francisco writes: Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't you one of the people questioning Luck's arm strength? How's the crow taste after watching his 70-yard bomb?

Kevin Gemmell: Consider yourself corrected. But thanks.

Mike in Cupertino, Calif., writes: How many scholarships does Stanford have available for next year's signing? It seems like we've had a few years of 19-22 signees. With only 85 scholarships available and most players staying on campus for five years, how much play does David Shaw and the staff have? I've heard estimates of a class of about 15 being the max we can sign.

Kevin Gemmell: I talked to someone in the athletic department about this, and he essentially said it's a "fluid" number, meaning it's not a number they want to release publicly. But you can do some of the math on your own. There aren't many seniors on the 2012 roster. There will be attrition between now and next February. Guys leaving early, medical retirees or transfers and such equals more scholarships. But rough guess right now it's about half of the class they just signed.

Ally in Stanford, Calif., writes: Any word on whether Shayne Skov has recovered from his injury? How about from his DUI? Has the university issued a statement?

Kevin Gemmell: Skov is still rehabbing, and I would imagine that rehab will take him right up to fall camp. Those kind of knee injuries take a minimum of six months, but more likely nine or 10 months to really heal properly. And then there is the mental aspect. I'm pretty sure it won't be too much of an issue with Skov because he has a linebacker's mentality: Hit first, ask questions later. But he's going to need to get comfortable with full contact again and the first time he hits the ground awkwardly, it's going to be a shock to his system. I've seen some guys completely freak out and they never are quite the same players. But I don't think that will be the case with him. Regarding the DUI, Shaw said he wanted to wait until after spring to make an announcement so it wouldn't distract from the work on the field. Based on some conversations I've had, I wouldn't expect anything more than a two-game suspension, but one game seems likely.

Mark in Alameda, Calif., writes: Predictions for the spring game? Will the offense or defense rule?

Kevin Gemmell: Well, hearing Shaw talk about the defense, it seems like the offensive line is having all kinds of problems blocking the linebackers. I think there might be some coach speak there, because reports are that the running backs look pretty darn good also. I'm sure there will be highlights from both sides of the ball. But during spring games and fall scrimmages, the defense is usually further along than the offense. And when you factor in a quarterback competition vs. a very deep and experienced front seven, I'd expect the defense to come out on top.

Victor in Denver writes: Can you rank the running backs next year?

Kevin Gemmell: I think the only thing we can count on in terms of rankings is that Stepfan Taylor is the No. 1 back -- and with good reason. Behind him is a slew of opportunistic players. Ricky Sealeis making a name for himself during spring ball. I'm partial to Seale since I covered him for three years in high school. With the exception of Reggie Bush, whom I also covered during his prep days, I always said Seale had the best vision of any high school back I've ever seen. He would find the smallest holes, disappear and then re-appear 30 yards down the field. But he lacks the game experience of Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson. And then we have to consider Barry Sanders and what role he could play next season. And Ryan Hewitt will probably see more short-yardage carries with departure of Jeremy Stewart. Hewitt was extremely reliable last year on anything less than three yards and we know how much Shaw and Pep Hamilton love to use the fullback. So I can't give you a solid answer on rankings. I just know they are really deep and really talented.

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