Stanford Football: Nifae Lealao

Most important targets: Pac-12 

January, 28, 2014
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With only eight days before national signing day, it truly is crunch time for coaches and recruits alike for the 2014 class. In the Pac-12 especially, a number of spots remain available in a majority of classes. This week, we take a look at the most important uncommitted target for each conference program.

Arizona: DT Marcus Griffin (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue)
6-2, 299 pounds
Three-star prospect

The Wildcats jumped into the process late for Griffin but made enough of an impression that the big lineman took an official visit to Tucson last weekend. Griffin will announce on signing day from a group that consists of Arizona, Cal, Mississippi State and Washington State. While the Wildcats have a full class at this point, it looks as though they'd like to add one more big body along the defensive line and Griffin is one of the top defensive tackles in the region, regardless of commitment status.


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After generating some significant momentum following its Big Visit Weekend and grabbing a commitment from ESPN 300 tight end Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham), Stanford's recruiting class took a hit on Wednesday night, when ESPN 300 defensive tackle Nifae Lealao (Sacramento, Calif./Capital Christian) announced his decommitment via Twitter.

Lealao, the nation's No. 243 overall prospect and No. 20 defensive tackle, said he will now choose between Cal, Oregon State, Utah and Vanderbilt.

The 6-foot-6, 280-pound defensive lineman, who is now exploring his other options, took an official visit to Cal this past weekend. Landing Lealao would be a huge recruiting victory for Cal, as the Golden Bears are in need of immediate help on the defensive side of the ball. Vanderbilt being on Lealao's final list doesn't come as much of a shock either, considering former Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason is now the Commodores’ head coach. His familiarity with Lealao, as well as the academic tradition at both schools, makes it a possible landing spot for the big defender.

Oregon State could use another presence along the defensive line after losing defensive end Shane Bowman (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) to Washington recently. Oregon State's lone defensive tackle commit is three-star Kalani Vakameilalo (Kapolei, Hawaii/Kapolei).

Utah, on the other hand, already has four defensive tackles committed in the 2014 class. However, if he does land in Salt Lake City, it wouldn't be surprising to see Lealao jump up the depth chart and eventually pair with top 2013 signee Lowell Lotulelei to form the interior of the Utes defensive line.
Though the season ended on a sour note, with a 24-20 loss to Michigan State in the Rose Bowl presented by VIZIO, 2013 was another tremendously successful season for the Cardinal. Stanford posted an 11-win season and defended its Pac-12 crown. Heading toward signing day, it's doubtful this loss will damage any of the momentum the Cardinal have built on the recruiting trail. On the heels of a small recruiting class in 2013 -- Stanford signed just a dozen prospects -- Shaw and his assistants will be able to go after more recruits in the 2014 class, though this group still likely won't approach the maximum allowable limit of 25. At this point, Stanford's 2014 class ranks No. 28 in the nation and No. 4 in the Pac-12.


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Three Pac-12 programs added commitments in the past week, while several more appear poised to close this class in a big way. A number of Pac-12 programs are off this weekend, but one program in particular looks to be in line for a busy recruiting weekend.
Cardinal closing strong

There was only one team that made any kind of movement in Wednesday's updated team recruiting rankings, and it was a big jump for the Stanford Cardinal. On the strength of a commitment from ESPN 300 defensive tackle Nifae Lealao (Sacramento, Calif./Capital Christian), Stanford moved up four places, from No. 28 to No. 24 overall. It seems to be only a matter of time before Stanford is sitting atop the Pac-12 conference, as ESPN 300 prospects Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) and Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham) appear to be strong leans to the Cardinal. Several other four-star prospects across the country are giving the program a long look.

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Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

September, 18, 2013
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There was movement from only one program in the newly-released 2014 class recruiting rankings, and it was a big jump forward for a Pac-12 heavyweight. The Stanford Cardinal moved up four spots to No. 24 overall, just one behind Pac-12 leader Arizona at No. 23. The conference still has just three teams ranked in the top 40, with Arizona State coming in at No. 35.

Trending up: Stanford. The Cardinal added defensive tackle Nifae Lealao (Sacramento, Calif./Capital Christian) last Friday and were rewarded with a big move in the rankings.


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Stanford adds to ESPN 300 tally 

September, 14, 2013
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In one of the least surprising developments of the 2014 recruiting cycle, ESPN 300 defensive tackle Nifae Lealao (Sacramento, Calif./Capital Christian) announced his commitment to Stanford on Friday afternoon.

Lealao made the announcement on the Tom Lemming Report on CBS Sports Network.

The 6-foot-6, 280-pound tackle had a dominant showing at Stanford's summer camp before his junior year and quickly became a top target of the Cardinal. In turn, Stanford jumped to the top of Lealao's list and that position appeared set in stone for much of the past year. On Friday, the talented lineman made public what most anticipated happening.

But the fact that this commitment was expected doesn't make it any less important.


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Recruiting for the 2014 class bumped up another notch this past Sunday, when college coaches could begin making their one phone call per week to high school seniors. Today, we take a look at what position group those Pac-12 coaches might consider their most important position to add talent with this class.


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St. Brown talks USC, Stanford and more
WeAreSC's Blair Angulo caught up with ESPN 300 WR Equanimeous St. Brown on Sunday at the IMG 7v7 West Regional to get the latest on his recruitment.Tags: USC Trojans, Stanford Cardinal, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, WeAreSC, Equanimeous St. Brown
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