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Friday, August 10, 2012
Stanford mailbag

By Kevin Gemmell

Friends, it's been way too long since we've done a Stanford mailbag. But don't think I've forgotten about you despite my new Pac-12 responsibilities. You've got questions, I've got David Shaw on speed dial. To the questions.

Tony in Sacramento, Calif., writes: Were you surprised that Tyler Gaffney took the baseball offer rather than returning for another year?

Kevin Gemmell: I was, at first. But then I talked to somebody in the know and after they explained the situation to me, it makes a lot more sense. I'm not an expert on bonus scales when it comes to baseball, but the way it was explained to me, Gaffney threw out a number and the Pirates said, "OK." From what I heard, he was a bit surprised too. But hey, good for him. I've covered Gaffney since he was a sophomore in high school and seen him play both sports. The reality is that he would have had trouble getting the attention needed to play in the NFL having to play behind Stepfan Taylor and also fighting for carries with the other backs in the rotation. Now that he's focused just on baseball, he's got a very legitimate chance of making it to the pros. So, keeping true to baseball form, a tip of the hat and best of luck to Mr. Gaffney.

Brian in San Diego writes: How does the running back rotation shape up with Gaffney and Jeremy Stewart gone?

Kevin Gemmell: Good question, and I talked about this with Shaw earlier in the week. He reminded me that even though Stewart is gone, Anthony Wilkerson still provides some pretty good size at 6-1, 218 pounds. Taylor, of course, is a compact tank at 5-11, 215, so there is some good bulk to go with their speed. I'd expect fullback Ryan Hewitt to pick up a few more of the short-yardage runs. He had a few last year and was very effective, but Stewart was the primary short-yardage back. Then you've got a bunch of guys fighting for carries, Ricky Seale (5-9, 193), Remound Wright (5-9, 205), Barry Sanders (5-9, 191) who are all a little bit on the smaller side. Whichever one of those guys emerges in the pecking order, it should make for a nice change-of-pace from the bigger, bulkier duo of Taylor and Wilkerson.

Ann in Santa Clara, Calif., writes: How effective will Shayne Skov be?

Kevin Gemmell: Tough to say until we see him get a few reps in an actual game situation. I've seen guys bounce back strong from torn knee ligaments, and I've seen other guys play hesitant and nervous. Skov doesn't strike me as one of those hesitant guys. I think he'll attack his playing time like he attacked his rehab. Make no mistake, he is one of the best middle linebackers in the country. I thought Jarek Lancaster and A.J. Tarpley were outstanding last year -- and showed that Stanford could survive without Skov. But that doesn't mean they're not better for having him around. Would hope he's up to speed by the USC game though. They'll need all the run-stopping they can get.

Manny in San Jose, Calif., writes: What are your thoughts on Stanford's recruiting class so far?

Kevin Gemmell: It depends on what your measuring stick is. If you want to compare straight up against other Pac-12 schools, I'd say they are looking up at USC, which seems poised to ink the best class in the nation in 2013. But then again, you can't compare Stanford to other schools because they have a different approach. And I don't buy into the "star" rating system, either. Ben Gardner was a two-star for frak's sake. Though they are a national recruiter, their recruiting pool is a lot different than others. They can't just say "we need a running back," and then go out and find the best running back in the country. They need a running back who also has to fit Stanford's requirements. Some years, there are a lot of those. Last year there were a lot of offensive linemen that fit the mold -- and Stanford nabbed them all. But with all that said, I don't see a single iffy player on their commitment list so far. Linebackers, a tight end and a wide receiver legacy. All good gets. Now they just need to make sure they actually get them.

Jon in Stanford, Calif., writes: Can you tell us who is going to be the next Stanford quarterback?

Kevin Gemmell: I could, but then David Shaw wouldn't answer my calls anymore. Enjoy the weekend.