Stanford Football: Shaw 020212

Q&A: Stanford's David Shaw, Part 2

February, 2, 2012
2/02/12
10:00
AM ET
Stanford head coach David Shaw has a lot to smile about after hauling in a top-15 recruiting class on Wednesday. With six ESPNU 150 players -- including three of the top offensive linemen in the country and athletic playmakers on both sides of the ball -- Shaw said his team fills much-needed holes and adds depth at other spots.

Here's part two of a Q&A with the second-year head coach.

Alex Carter was recruited as a cornerback. Is that set in stone, or could we see him at safety or as a wide receiver?

Davis Shaw: Alex Carter is fast, quick and strong. He is a corner for us. He could physically play five positions. He could play running back or safety or receiver or corner. He could even play a gun-run quarterback which a lot of guys are doing these days. But for us, he's a lockdown corner. He's excited about getting that opportunity to play against some of the best receivers in the nation in our conference and we know he'll be up to the challenge.

You said back in December that recruiting a quarterback wasn't a priority in 2012. Is it safe to assume it will be a priority in 2013?

DS: I think that's pretty safe to assume. We've got a good cast of quarterbacks here. Some of them are four-star guys who threw for a lot of yards in their high school career but haven't gotten a lot of opportunity. The opportunity is here now, this spring and this fall. We'll see what happens through the rest of this year's recruiting process. If we don't get a top-flight quarterback in this class, we're already in the process of communicating with, we believe, about four of the top five quarterbacks next year.

There were some players who were forced to switch their commitment because they weren't admitted academically. How difficult is it for you as a coach to make that phone call and tell a kid with an outstanding GPA that he doesn't meet the standards of Stanford University?

DS: That's the hardest thing about this process for us, is that every single offer that we make and everything that we tell all of these guys is that the offer is contingent on their admission to Stanford. There are guys where we have a strong feeling he'll get admitted, and he doesn't make it. That's part of here. The one thing I rest on, personally as an alum, during the process, our admissions people have been pretty much on. They have done a great job as evidenced by our graduation rate. They seem to pick the right people to go to school here. Sometimes it does hurt. It's not just football. It's in every single sport. But it's our job to bring the highest number of qualified candidates we can find and our admissions people will pick the ones they believe are ready for school here and those are the guys that we play with.

Only two players from California. Does that matter? (Writer's note: Interview with Shaw was conducted about 30 minutes prior to Aziz Shittu of Atwater, Calif. announcing his commitment, giving Stanford three players from California).

DS: Not at all. We just can't be bound to a region, even if it is close to home. We've had some years with four guys, others where it's two or three. We have to look at the United States and say 'that's our region.' Wherever we can find guys, that's where we have to go. It wasn't just a down year for us regionally out West, but it was an up year where it's usually a tough spot. Across the nation, there were a lot of guys that were great football players with high academic accomplishments and those are the guys that we go after.

Conner Crane looks like Coby Fleener's little brother. Any chance you put 60 pounds on him and turn him into a tight end?

DS: (Laughing) He's got more of a thin frame than Coby did. Coby had a lot of room to gain the weight and put the meat on. Conner is a little thinner so I don't anticipate him making the switch to tight end. I know he's a tall, fast receiver that plays against the highest level of competition in Texas and averages over 17, 18-yards a catch for his career. I can't wait to get him in a Stanford uniform.

Going to put you on the spot. Who do you think of this class can make an immediate impact next season?

A: There are going to be multiple guys. It's hard to say. We have some open spots on the offensive line. We have guys here that can compete and we're bringing in guys that are going to compete. We've got some receivers coming in that have some unique abilities. I think Conner, Dontonio Jordan, Kodi Whitfield, Michael Rector. I think those four guys as a class are probably the most underrated group of receivers in the nation. Conner Crane has the speed and downfield ability. Michael Rector is at 6-1, 6-2 and can run every route in the book and change direction. Dontonio Jordan is outstanding in the punt return game and in the slot. Kodi Whitfield is a big, physical receiver. A lot of people came in late and tried to get him to switch because they saw what he could do.

Q&A: Stanford's David Shaw, Part 1

February, 2, 2012
2/02/12
9:00
AM ET
Stanford head coach David Shaw has a lot to smile about after hauling in a top-15 recruiting class on Wednesday. With six ESPNU 150 players -- including three of the top offensive linemen in the country and athletic playmakers on both sides of the ball -- Shaw said his team fills much-needed holes and adds depth at other spots.

Here's part one of a Q&A with the second-year head coach.

What are your first impressions of this group?

David Shaw: This group has what we're looking for. We wanted to address the offensive line and make sure we had some more playmakers at the wide receiver position. We were going to take a running back if he was a difference-maker. That's what Barry (Sanders) is. Defensively, to be able to come in with the defensive line we've put together in this class, I think is a credit to our coaches and our coaching style and our scheme that these guys are excited to come play for us. Then to get a couple of the top defensive backs at the safety and corner position in the nation is really exciting.

So the offensive line was a target position this year? It didn't just work out that way. You guys were going after linemen all the way?

DS: No question. We hadn't gotten enough in the last couple of years. As well as we've played, we haven't been deep. Thankfully for our strength and conditioning program, our guys have stayed pretty healthy so we haven't had to play down to our younger guys. We needed depth, especially with two guys leaving early for the draft. We needed guys to come in and compete right away and I think we've brought some guys in that can do that.

Coach (Mike) Sanford tweeted after Andrus Peat announced: "Our staff reaction was priceless!" What does priceless mean and what was the reaction?

DS: It's something you don't feel in the NFL. You draft a guy and you know he's there and you draft him and you get excited. But to sit there waiting and not knowing for sure. Having a good feeling, but not knowing for sure that he was coming to us. Then the announcement was made and we saw the hat. Guys were jumping up and down and pumping fists and high fiving. It was pretty loud. I think it was heard pretty much around the building. Not too much longer, we had the same reaction when Kyle Murphy did his announcement. We jumped up and down and high fived and guys were yelling. It's been a special, special day for us because these guys are our type of guys. They aren't prima donnas that want to come in on a silver platter. The guys we've been recruiting, they want to come in and work and earn what we give them.

How exciting will it be to see these offensive linemen grow together?

DS: It's going to be exciting. Anytime you start with a player that does the things you can't teach -- size and athletic ability and flexibility and nastiness -- that's when it's really fun as a coach because now you are teaching the finer points of the game. The techniques and the calls. You're not trying to make up for something ability wise the player doesn't have. This group is really exciting. I think they are humble and they are hungry. The guys on our team are going to welcome them in as true competitors and teammates. It will be a fun group to work with.

You talked about having "that feeling," how confident were you leading up to the Barry Sanders announcement?

DS: Very. I think when Barry came to campus for the first time, I think it opened his eyes. I think he saw a place -- like so many guys on our team and committed to us -- the first time on campus it hit them that this is a place they are looking for. It hit them that there is a place out there that is first in academics but doesn't slight in the football category. That's what Barry saw. Barry Sanders is a famous individual. And to be able to sit down and have lunch with Andrew Luck, who is also a famous individual, for people to recognize him, but not bother him -- you're sitting in a place where there are a lot of people that are famous in their own rights in what they do and are really good at what they do. There is an environment that is very comforting to a guy like that who does have some fame and some notoriety to be around people that are just like him.

Noor Davis committed early and was so outspoken in support of the program to other recruits -- how much does it help when you have a guy who is going to sell the program for you and hasn't even signed his letter yet?

DS: I think every program in the nation always has one or two of those guys who commit early and is determined to help build the class. Noor has a lot nicknames around here for us. My favorite one is "The Senator." We're talking about a big kid who is imposing physically and extremely intelligent and very well-spoken, very thoughtful in every word that he says, but also very convincing. When you have a guy like that that can be talking to other recruits, he's an example of what we're looking for. Much like Andrew Luck before him and guys we have now that can talk to other recruits and give them an example of what a Stanford man is.

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Shaw Plans To Remain At Stanford
Adam Schefter has the latest on coach David Shaw, who plans to remain with Stanford despite major interest from the NFL.
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