Breaking Down Stanford’s Recruiting Class


Dec 29, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal coach David Shaw at the 2013 Rose Bowl media day at the L.A. Hotel Downtown. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

With most of the Pac-12’s recruiting news revolving around the star-studded yet wavering commitment lists of Oregon and USC, No. 6-ranked Stanford’s underwhelming 2013 haul has largely slipped under the radar.

Now, national signing day is upon us, and it’s time to break down the newest group of Cardinal players.

Only a year removed from one of the best recruiting classes in school history, complete with 5-star linemen Kyle Murphy, Andrus Peat, and Aziz Shittu, the reigning conference champions have received a surprisingly low total of 12 commitments.

Though these relatively small recruiting classes seem to be a plague affecting some of the top programs in the Pac-12 this year, they are certainly not short on quality.

Stanford is no exception.

The Cardinal finished each of the past two seasons ranked in the nation’s top-five in run defense, thanks in large part to their strong front seven. This is a trend that David Shaw will likely be able to keep going for a few more years based on the incoming talent.

A pair of impressive linebackers in Peter Kalambayi and Kevin Palma, both of whom were awarded 4-star ratings, headlines Shaw’s group of newcomers.

Kalambayi has a big frame and, though he lacks elite speed and quickness, he is a very strong, powerful pass-rusher who demonstrates great discipline. Palma is a hard-hitting, athletic player who is relentless when blitzing.

With Chase Thomas heading to the NFL and Shayne Skov having only one more year of eligibility at Stanford, the arrival of these two stud linebackers is certainly welcome news on the Farm.

Aside from Kalambayi and Palma, however, the 2013 class is relatively thin on defense. Stanford will only bring in three other defensive players: 4-star defensive back (though he has the potential to play outside linebacker) Sean Barton and 3-star defensive ends Austin Hooper and Mike Tyler.

Those players display talent and promise, but the low defensive haul has to be at least a bit of a concern for Shaw and the Cardinal.

On the other side of the ball is another potential star joining the Cardinal in 2013. Pro-style quarterback Ryan Burns is a 4-star prospect. Though the Cardinal will have their breakout star signal-caller Kevin Hogan for a couple more years, Burns will provide the team with some valuable depth and upside under center.

Something that the Stanford’s offense has struggled with over the past few seasons is a durable downfield threat. Chris Owusu was the last true speedster to come through Stanford, but an unfortunate string of injuries left him on the sideline for much of his career.

Luckily, his younger brother Francis has committed to the Cardinal. Francis Owusu, another 4-star recruit, is a deep threat with big play potential and reliable hands.

Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo have both declared for the NFL Draft, leaving Hogan without too many go-to options on offense. Look for Owusu to fill a big hole in the Cardinal’s receiving corps come next season.

The 2013 class also brings no shortage of tight ends. Eric Cotton and Greg Taboada, both 3-star prospects, will join Owusu and 2-star wide out Taijuan Thomas in contributing to the Cardinal’s receiving repertoire.

In addition to these exciting skill players, Stanford will be welcoming a good-looking pair of offensive linemen. Dave Bright, a 3-star guard, and Thomas Oser, a 3-star center, are two native Californians ready to add some depth to the Cardinal’s interior front wall.

One final note on the 2013 recruiting class is the impressive geographic range. Shaw has managed to bring in prospects from, among other states, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, and Georgia, which is an encouraging sign.

Stanford’s Pac-12 championship and Rose Bowl victory have secured their spot on the national map. While 12 commits is a low number, these incoming players are certainly high in quality and potential.

Keep an eye out throughout the day for additional information or commitments. All 12 of these players have given solid verbal commitments to Stanford, so there shouldn’t be too much drama while the letters of intent roll in as national signing day wears on.