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Football: Cardinal signs 19 to letters of intent on National Signing Day

Stanford football took big strides toward a successful 2011 season during yesterday’s National Signing Day, hauling in one of the nation’s top recruiting classes. The Cardinal signed 19 players to letters of intent, piecing together a class ranked No. 20 by ESPN.com and No. 22 by Scout.com and Rivals.com.

Linebacker James Vaughters is a cornerstone of the Cardinal recruiting class. With Stanford losing a few linebackers, he could contribute immediately. (Courtesy of James Vaughters)

“This signing class is one that will play a big role in the future success of Stanford football,” said head coach David Shaw. “We wanted to bring in players who demonstrate a certain level of toughness that has been established throughout our program. I feel we have successfully met all of our goals with this recruiting class.”

Stanford bolstered its defense with its signees, adding five defensive linemen, four defensive backs and one linebacker to its roster (though some players may change positions once they join the team).

On offense, the Cardinal added two running backs, two wide receivers, a fullback, two offensive linemen and two quarterbacks.

“We wanted to get receivers, defensive backs and defensive linemen in particular,” Shaw said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference. “Those needs were met.

“In order to win the games that we need to win, we need to keep getting faster, and I think we did that,” he added.

Overall, Stanford had seven four-star recruits as rated by Rivals and Scout, with 11 more earning three-star ratings.

The top-rated recruit in the class is James Vaughters, an inside linebacker from Tucker High School (Ga.). The 6-foot-2 Vaughters, who verbally committed to Stanford over the summer, is among the top five recruits in the nation at his position. Given the departures of last year’s starting linebackers Owen Marecic and Thomas Keiser, Vaughters may immediately see playing time.

The second player in the class rated in the nation’s top 150 players is Wayne Lyons, a safety from Dillard High School (Fla.). Lyons, and Jordan Richards from Folsom High School (Calif.) should reinforce a Stanford secondary that loses top cornerback Richard Sherman next season, and could figure prominently in Stanford’s defensive backfield in the near future.

The Cardinal also picked up two pure defensive tackles, Anthony Hayes from Saint Thomas Academy (Minn.) and Lance Callihan from Catholic High School (La.). Shaw said that Stanford had not signed that type of player in its last two classes.

“To get two in one class has been phenomenal for us,” he said. “I’m really excited to get those young men that are academically what we need them to be, and, football-wise, what we need them to be as well.”

The Cardinal’s final four-star defensive recruit is Charlie Hopkins, a 6-foot-6, 240-pound defensive end out of Gonzaga Prep School (Wash.). Hopkins committed verbally to Stanford in early June.

On offense, Stanford’s receiving corps should get a strong boost from the addition of Ty Montgomery from Saint Mark’s School (Texas). Two of Stanford’s top receivers from last season, Doug Baldwin and Ryan Whalen, are out of eligibility, so Montgomery should be a solid target for rising junior quarterback Andrew Luck next season.

Two understudies for Luck also signed on with the Card—Evan Crower from Saint Augustine High School (Calif.) and Kevin Hogan of Gonzaga College High School (D.C.). Crower is the more highly touted of the pair, but both figure to compete immediately with Stanford’s existing backup quarterbacks for positions on the depth chart.

Stanford picked up a two-way player in Patrick Skov from the Lawrenceville School (N.J.). Skov, the younger brother of sophomore linebacker Shayne Skov, plays both inside linebacker and fullback, and he may play one or both positions for the Cardinal.

Aside from Montgomery, Stanford added three four-star players. At the offensive lineman position, Brendon Austin from Chaparral High School (Colo.) will join the team, along with a pair of new running backs: Remound Wright from Bishop Dwenger (Ind.) and Kelsey Young from Norco High School (Calif.), the same institution that produced former Stanford running back Toby Gerhart.

The coaching switch to Shaw from former head coach Jim Harbaugh, who departed in January to lead the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, had only a mild effect on the recruiting class. Stanford did lose two four-star recruits after his departure: running back Amir Carlisle from The Kings Academy in Sunnyvale, Calif. and linebacker Anthony Sarao, who decommitted after the change and signed instead with USC. Carlisle, who will also attend USC, has said that Harbaugh’s decision was not a factor in his decision. Garrett Gladd, a guard from Oklahoma, also decommitted to go to Tulsa.

Shaw said he promised recruits continuity with the Harbaugh era. That helped many new players decide to maintain their commitments to Stanford.

“I think the fact that I was a familiar face to all of the recruits helped smooth the transition,” Shaw said. “They weren’t coming into a complete unknown. We made a dedication and we made it known early that we’re not going to change scheme, which a lot of these guys were sold on from the beginning. Stanford University itself, as well as what we do on the field schematically and the way we play—those three things haven’t changed.”

About Kabir Sawhney

Kabir Sawhney is currently a desk editor for the News section. He served as the Managing Editor of Sports last volume.