Friday, September 9, 2011
No slowing Stanford Cardinal down
By Greg Biggins
When former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh left the program last winter to take over the San Francisco 49ers, some felt the program would take a quick nosedive to mediocrity. Instead, the Cardinal haven't skipped a beat on the recruiting trail.
New coach David Shaw was able to lock up a top-25 class last February. This year, Stanford is ranked in the top 25 once again and recruiting better than ever.
Over the weekend, Stanford picked up a commitment from the top player on the Islands when Luke Kaumatule (Honolulu/Punahou) chose the Cardinal over Cal, Oregon and UCLA. The commitment and the reasoning behind it show exactly what prospects think of Stanford right now.
"After I tore my ACL last weekend, I realized life is about a lot more than just football," Kaumatule said. "Having a Stanford education is huge for me and my family but to be able to play for a great football team as well meant almost as much. The way Stanford is rolling right now, I get the best of both worlds."
Kaumatule joins a class that is already bolstered by the nation's No. 2 outside linebacker in Noor Davis (Leesburg, Fla.); athlete Alex Carter (Ashburn, Va./Briar Woods), who's No. 113 in the ESPNU 150; and a deep receiving corps headlined by four-star Deante' Gray (Houston/Westside), one of the fastest players in the Southwest.
Davis' commitment was especially shocking as the Cardinal weren't even in his top five a few weeks before he announced. The 'backer from Florida could have played for any school in the country, including Miami, Florida and Florida State, and hadn't even visited Palo Alto, Calif., at the time of his news conference.
"I was real impressed with Stanford after watching them in the Orange Bowl last year," Davis said. "They're one of the best academic schools in the world and a top-five football program as well. I knew it was a place I could fit in academically as well as athletically and I could really further my education in life at Stanford more than any other place."
The Cardinal aren't done yet and are involved with several national prospects including offensive linemen Kyle Murphy (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente) and Josh Garnett (Puyallup, Wash./Puyallup), defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville), defensive tackles Korren Kirven (Lynchburg, Va./Brookville) and Aziz Shittu (Atwater, Calif./Buhach Colony), and running back Barry Sanders (Oklahoma City/Heritage Hall).
If the Cardinal can continue to win on the field and can give elite prospects a reason to choose the school for more than just academics, there's no reason to think Stanford won't make a few more runs at a national title.
Mangum stays hot
It was a great spring/summer for Eagle (Idaho) High School quarterback Tanner Mangum, who went from virtual unknown to one of the hottest quarterback prospects in the nation. He had a great showing at the Stanford Nike camp, was the top quarterback at The Opening and then won MVP honors at the Elite 11 QB Camp in July.
Mangum and his teammates kicked off their season last weekend playing against Boise (Idaho) Timberline, the school Mangum played for as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Eagle before his junior season. Mangum completed 19 of 32 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns as Eagle rolled to a 42-21 win.
Mangum threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone before shutting things down early in the second half with the game in hand. The signal-caller has committed to BYU, but will go on his Mormon mission before enrolling in Provo.
Treggs/Bruce vs. Gilmore/Powe
One of the more intriguing games to watch this weekend will be Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco taking on Lakewood (Calif.). They are expected to be two of the better teams in the Southern Section, but the real reason for the intrigue is the battle between four of the top skill players in the state.
St. John Bosco is led by standout receiver Bryce Treggs, who elevated his game to another level this past summer and is now regarded as one of the nation's best at his position. He was joined by transfer Dalis Bruce, a very talented two-way player with offers from Boise State and Oregon State, giving the Braves a great one-two punch.
Lakewood boasts two of the region's premier receivers in Under Armour All-American Darius Powe and Oregon State commit Malik Gilmore. The fact that all four players play both ways adds a lot of excitement to an already highly anticipated game.
Treggs and Bruce start at corner and safety, respectively, for the Braves, meaning there will be a lot of one-on-one matchups against the talented Lakewood receivers. Powe and Gilmore play safety for the Lancers and they'll no doubt be giving the Braves' dynamic duo a lot of special attention.
Game to watch: Long Beach Poly (Calif.) vs. Carson (Calif.)
Both teams are coming off impressive season-opening wins last weekend with Poly knocking off state-ranked Sacramento (Calif.) Grant and the Colts taking out traditional state power Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei.
Poly is loaded with athletes and has one of the best secondaries in the region. Arizona State commit Randall Goforth is a two-way standout but will likely play corner in college. He shut down Bryce Treggs in a scrimmage earlier in the year but will have an even tougher task against Carson.
The Colts are led by USC commit Darreus Rogers, who is 6-2 and boasts a 35-inch vertical jump, and could be a tough matchup for the 5-9 corner. Look for Poly to try to let Goforth handle Rogers on his own, but if he needs help, the Jackrabbits have one of the state's top juniors in standout safety David Price.
In addition to Goforth, who will double at receiver, the Jackrabbits have two other standouts at receiver in Richard Smith and Josiah Blandin, both Arizona State commitments. They have a great linebacker corps led by two more ASU commits, Matthew Rowe and Salamo Fiso. The defensive line was recently bolstered by Louisiana transfer and Texas A&M commit Alonzo Williams.
Carson has a massive offensive line and one of the top running backs in the city section in Roger Jones. Jones, who transferred from Compton (Calif.) last summer, rushed for 151 yards against Mater Dei and is a definite FBS prospect.
Greenlee leads major upset
Junior quarterback Zack Greenlee (Stockton, Calif./Lincoln) led a big upset over one of the top teams in the West last weekend as Lincoln took out Elk Grove (Calif.) Pleasant Grove 50-49 in a thrilling double-overtime win.
Pleasant Grove, led by lineman Arik Armstead, who is No. 14 in the ESPNU 150, came into the game ranked No. 4 in the state and No. 26 in the nation in the FAB 50. After scoring a touchdown in the second overtime, Lincoln made the gutsy call to go for two and the win and Greenlee connected with receiver Devan Barkley to pull off the upset.
Greenlee was an efficient 17-of-25 for 165 yards and two touchdowns and added two more scores on the ground. Greenlee, who has been compared to Cal commit Zach Kline by noted quarterback coach Roger Theder, who trains both signal-callers, threw for 1,459 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore starter and was very impressive at the Elite 11 regional camp at Stanford last summer.
The 2013 quarterback class out West is looking very strong and Greenlee will no doubt be at the top of a lot of colleges' lists next spring. Another junior to watch from Lincoln is running back Justin Davis. Davis will also be a three-year starter and rushed for 1,316 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. He might have been the best player on the field against Pleasant Grove, rushing for 192 yards and three touchdowns while going against one of the state's top defenses.
Greg Biggins covers recruiting in the West region. He can be reached at Greg.Biggins@espn.com..