Stanford DailySPORTS – Stanford Daily http://www.stanforddaily.com 8/28/2016 Sun, 28 Aug 2016 15:28:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 Football preview: Defensive line http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/27/football-preview-defensive-line/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=football-preview-defensive-line http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/27/football-preview-defensive-line/#respond Sat, 27 Aug 2016 08:59:12 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116806 This is the seventh of a 12-part preview of the 2016 football season.Part 1 focused on the running backs and fullbacks. Part 2 featured a roundtable on the offense. Part 3 focused on the tight ends and receivers. Part 4 focused on the offensive line, Part 5 focused on the quarterback, Part 6 featured a roundtable on the defense.

In a nutshell

It’s no secret that most of us enjoy a good survival movie. From “Castaway”, to “127 hours” to “Into the Wild,” there’s something about the resilience of the human body in times of distress, ingenuity in the face of death and the sheer, uncompromising will to live that’s enormously captivating. And for admission into the canon of all-time great survival stories, I present for consideration the 2015 Stanford defensive line.

Playing with just three linemen for the entire season, the Cardinal had to summon every ounce of their creativity and strength to make it out of the Pac-12 alive. We saw defensive coordinator Lance Anderson dial up some exotic looks: a base nickel defense with just two down linemen, a three-safety scheme and bringing linebackers up to the line of scrimmage with their hands in the dirt. Above all, it took steely resolve from Stanford’s trio of starters, Solomon Thomas, Aziz Shittu and Brennan Scarlett, and a masterful coaching job by expert motivator Randy Hart to get this unit to the finish line.

This time around, the storyline couldn’t be more different: Stanford goes from scrambling to find ways of working around a lack of bodies up front to now boasting the deepest defensive line that David Shaw has ever coached.

“This was the most competitive camp [on the defensive line] that we’ve ever had,” Shaw said. “I’m not saying that it’s the best, but it’s being able to say that we have three positions where we’re two deep. It’s so exciting for us. Last year we didn’t get a chance to rotate those guys through.”

With six defensive linemen expected to see action on game days, look for Stanford to dial up the aggressiveness up front — throwing back to the #PartyInTheBackfield heydays of 2012 and 2013 — knowing that no D-lineman will have to go the full distance.

The #Rushmen also have a new leader in Diron Reynolds who took over for the newly retired Hart. Reynolds, who came over from Oklahoma, has plenty of familiarity with the Stanford program after working under Hart as a defensive assistant in 2014 but also brings his own approach that has quickly caught on with his players.

“Coach Hart taught us a lot about how to play hard and play with heart. He was a ‘grind every play’ kind of guy,” said fifth-year senior defensive end Luke Kaumatule. “Coach Diron talks more about taking care of your body and playing efficiently by relying on your technique.”

Under new leadership and with more depth than they’ve had in a long, long time, 2016 could be the year that the Stanford D-line reasserts itself as one of the premier units in the conference as optimism surrounding the unit continues to grow.

Who’s returning?

Solomon Thomas (DE/DT) – The lone returning starter on this year’s defensive line, Thomas earned that starting job in last year’s training camp and never looked back as he went the distance for a razor-thin defensive line rotation. Although the current junior was rock-solid all of last season while spending most of his snaps out of position at defensive tackle, his coming-out party to the rest of the country came in the Pac-12 Championship game with the “Scoop and Score Heard ‘Round the World.” Thomas enters this season stronger and more explosive than ever before and his high workload from 2015 has endowed him with experience beyond his years. Voted a captain by his teammates last week — a rarity for juniors in the Harbaugh-Shaw era — the Phil Steele All-Pac-12 preseason first team selection will be the lead dog for a large pack of hungry defensive linemen. Look for him to build on his 2015 stats of 10.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.

Harrison Phillips (DE/DT) – Horrible Harry is back, and that’s good news for the Cardinal. On his one and only drive of last season against Northwestern, the then-sophomore terrorized interior linemen and exploded into the backfield to deflect a pass. Phillips, however, tore his ACL on that drive, and we were all left to wonder what Stanford’s defensive front might have looked like if he had been available for the long haul. Phillips is a gritty competitor who surpassed all expectations when he held his own as a 255-pound true freshman nose tackle in 2014 and, as a former national champion wrestler in high school, never fails to bring the physicality. The junior has been a full-go in training camp and will likely start the season as the first-team nose tackle, allowing Thomas to slide over and play defensive end.

Jordan Watkins (DE) – Watkins returns for his fifth year on The Farm and, according to Shaw, just put together his best fall camp to earn a spot in the defensive line rotation. Watkins played sparingly in 2015, appearing in eight games and recording three tackles, but Shaw and the coaching staff believed that the long, athletic 6-foot-5, 274-pounder could break out and decided to bring him back for his final year of eligibility. The decision seems to have worked out as Watkins will see his workload increase substantially in 2016 while Stanford adds another crucial piece of depth that was alarmingly lacking last year.

Newcomers to watch for

Luke Kaumatule (DE) – Strictly speaking, Kaumatule, entering his fifth season at Stanford, is the furthest thing from a “newcomer,” but after redshirting last season and switching positions, he will be bringing some much-needed fresh blood to the defensive line. Kaumatule’s Stanford journey has been the dizziest of whirlwinds. After starting off his career on offense and playing immediately as the heir apparent to Zach Ertz at tight end, Kaumatule switched over to the defensive line and then moved again to outside linebacker. In training camp last year, Kaumatule, the outside linebacker, excelled at pass-rushing and edge-setting but struggled with his coverage responsibilities, prompting outside linebackers coach and defensive coordinator Lance Anderson to propose redshirting the fourth-year senior to give him time to improve his coverage skills. Then, halfway through the 2015 season, the coaching staff decided to move Kaumatule again — this time back to the defensive line. In the subsequent 10 months, Stanford’s positional journeyman found a home and true stability for the first time in his college career.

“It was so huge to redshirt Luke last year. So huge,” Shaw said. “Luke just wasn’t ready to play for us and for us to give him a couple of plays a game last year, we would never really get a chance to see what he’s capable of. Now with a whole year on the defensive line…he’s so much more ready to play.”

Kaumatule concurred with his coach’s assessment: “Coach Anderson and Coach Shaw gave me the opportunity to redshirt last year which I’m really grateful for. I feel like I know the defensive playbook the best I’ve known it especially being able to just focus on one position and one technique. I’ve gained a lot of weight and lost a lot of weight in this time. Now, I’m just trying to get my body right and be explosive for the season.”

“I’ve never really had a season where I was able to play from the beginning to the end,” Kaumatule continued. “I’ve never had a season where I was able to start fast and finish. This is my last season at Stanford and I want to play every play and every game like it’s my last.”

Eric Cotton (DE) – When I asked Kaumatule which defensive lineman might surprise people this season, he replied, “Watch out for Eric Cotton.” After starting out his Stanford career at tight end, where he appeared in every game in 2014 and grabbed two touchdowns, Cotton made the move to the other side of the ball to bolster a perilously thin D-line corps. The 6-foot-6, 268-pounder, who has added nearly 30 pounds from his tight end days, did not see action at his new position for much of 2015 before making his debut in the second half of the Rose Bowl and recording a tackle. After another offseason at defensive end, Cotton looks primed for a larger role, a fact confirmed by Shaw when he announced that the Idaho native will be a part of the six-man rotation up front. With his length and extremely high motor, it’s clear what the Stanford coaching staff envisioned when switching Cotton over, and he looks poised to bring those tools into game action. In Kaumatule and Cotton, the Cardinal will rely on two converted tight ends to provide depth up front this season, a fact the two have discussed many times as they get ready for key roles in 2016.

Dylan Jackson (DE) – Jackson will also be a part of the Cardinal’s six-man rotation after redshirting last season. Under Shannon Turley’s strength program, Jackson has gained 13 pounds from the beginning of last season and looks absolutely menacing in person. His meteoric rise up the depth chart was another of many positive developments on the defensive line this summer and rounds out the two-deep rotation that Shaw, Anderson and Reynolds covet.  

Bo Peek/Michael Williams (DT) – In addition to upperclassmen making strides, Stanford also brought in four highly touted defensive linemen in its 2016 recruiting class. While all signs point to the four freshmen redshirting in their first year, there’s plenty of excitement over what this group could do in the future, especially in bringing about the return of the true nose tackle. Both Bo Peek and Michael “Uncle Julio” Williams are bonafide all-beef, whole-wheat, space-gobbling presences in the middle — something Stanford hasn’t had since the days of Terrence Stephens and David Parry, when the Cardinal boasted some of the best front sevens in the nation.

Key departures

Aziz Shittu (DE/DT) – A former 5-star recruit, Shittu blossomed late in his Stanford career to become a major disruptive force in the trenches. After a gruesome knee injury in practice derailed his 2014 season midway through, the current Philadelphia Eagle returned with a vengeance the following year, earning All-Pac-12 first team honors and closing out his career with a legendary Rose Bowl performance, recording 10 tackles, 3.5 for loss, to earn defensive MVP honors. His ability to play both defensive end and tackle also provided critical versatility to the Cardinal front line.

Brennan Scarlett (DE) – Can you imagine where Stanford would have been last season if Brennan Scarlett had not transferred into the program (from Cal, of all places)? Scarlett, the older brother of Cardinal running back Cameron, became a godsend to the defensive line, especially after Harrison Phillips’ injury thrust him into a starting role that required him to play a gargantuan number of snaps. Scarlett responded by not only filling a gaping void in the front line, but also thriving at it, finishing the year as Stanford’s sack leader with 5.5 QB takedowns. Like Shittu, Scarlett went undrafted but signed as a free agent with the Houston Texans where he is actively competing for a roster spot.  

 

Projected Depth Chart

DE

Solomon Thomas

Jordan Watkins

 

DT

Harrison Phillips

Solomon Thomas

 

DE

Luke Kaumatule

Eric Cotton OR Dylan Jackson

 

Others: Wesley Annan, Bo Peek, Michael Williams, Jovan Swann, Thomas Schaffer

 
Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Football preview: Defense roundtable http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/27/football-preview-defense-roundtable/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=football-preview-defense-roundtable http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/27/football-preview-defense-roundtable/#respond Sat, 27 Aug 2016 08:36:43 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116805 As part of The Daily’s preview coverage of Stanford football’s fast-approaching 2016 campaign, football analysts Andrew Mather, Vihan Lakshman and Nicky Sullivan got together to discuss some pressing questions regarding the Stanford defense.

As with the offense, the Stanford defense loses six starters heading into the 2016 season. Who amongst this group of departed contributors will the Cardinal miss the most?

Andrew Mather (AM): This isn’t the most obvious answer by any means, but I’m going with cornerback Ronnie Harris. Stanford’s secondary had a fairly good 2015 season, all things considered, but things fell apart a little when the Cardinal had to stare down top-level receivers. USC’s Juju Smith-Schuster and Notre Dame’s Will Fuller made the Stanford defensive backs look silly at times last year, and I’m not totally convinced that any of the Cardinal’s young starters have improved by enough to make up the difference. Harris was no All-American athlete or big-play wizard, but his experience and vision on the field seemed to help a lot of the other pieces of last year’s secondary fall into place. Even with Zach Hoffpauir returning to the roster, that level of leadership will be difficult for the secondary to replace – especially with Smith-Schuster coming up on the schedule again Week 3.

Vihan Lakshman (VL): Let’s flash back to last year’s Stanford-Arizona game for a moment. You might remember that contest for Christian McCaffrey slicing through yet another Pac-12 defense, Keller Chryst pancaking a defender or Rollins Stallworth’s leaping touchdown on an end zone fade. I also remember that night as our first glimpse at what a post-Blake Martinez Stanford defense might look like. After being blindsided by a blocker late in the first half, Martinez gingerly walked back to the locker room for further examination before later returning to the game. In the meantime, the Wildcats offense breathed new life while the Stanford defense looked almost unrecognizable without its leader in the middle. Martinez could not only play physical and cover in space with the best linebackers in the country, but he also had that sixth sense of knowing exactly where the ball was going on any given play. In his senior year, the current Green Bay Packer racked up 140 tackles — over 30 more than Shayne Skov or AJ Tarpley ever put up in a season. The Cardinal have a number of talented inside linebackers ready to fill the large shoe’s of No. 4, but none of them have proven that they can take over a game in the same way as Martinez. In that sense, he will certainly be missed.

Nicky Sullivan (NS): Aziz Shittu. Stanford’s biggest problem last year was probably the defensive line, as they struggled to get consistent pressure and had a problem with giving up big runs. The biggest issue was depth, as Stanford was forced to run out the same crop of linemen play after play, and it was clear that sometimes they simply got tired. Stanford is in a little better position this year, with Solomon Thomas poised to break out and Harrison Phillips back healthy, but outside of those two there are a lot of question marks. Adding Aziz Shittu to that line gives Stanford another known commodity as a starter, and allows them more flexibility if guys like converted tight ends Eric Cotton and Luke Kaumatule don’t pan out.

 

Which defensive unit (defensive line, linebackers or secondary) will be team’s strong suit this season?

AM: No insult intended to the secondary, but the linebackers have just earned this more. Year after year, this unit has lost big names, and year after year it has found a way to come back even stronger. The departures of Chase Thomas, Shayne Skov, Trent Murphy and AJ Tarpley barely made a dent in Stanford’s linebacker performance, and I don’t expect Blake Martinez’s recent signing with the Packers to be any different. It’s hard to know exactly which members of this year’s group will become its key playmakers this season, but with names like Peter Kalambayi, Kevin Palma, Joey Alfieri and Noor Davis all returning and stud freshman Curtis Robinson joining the ranks, I’d be surprised if “Linebacker U” isn’t back in action in a big way this season.

VL: When Stanford’s defense first rose to prominence in 2012 and 2013, it was largely on the basis of a historically good front seven. The secondary was also quite effective during those years, but it was clear that the Cardinal hung their hats on the #PartyInTheBackfield up front. Nowadays, the tables have turned. I expect the front seven to take care of business at a very high level once again, especially with the deepest defensive line rotation this team has had in years. But it will be the secondary that really turns heads. Alijah Holder and Quenton Meeks are stars in the making after their breakout 2014 campaigns, and the return of Zach Hoffpauir gives this unit an absurd number of options at safety and in nickel packages. Defensive backs coach Duane Akina has some tough decisions to make in sorting out who is going to play where, but it’s hard to bet against the DB Whisperer when it comes to getting his boys ready to play at an elite level. At this point, the secondary has more proven commodities than either of the other defensive units and looks ready to take another step forward behind some excellent coaching and veteran leadership.

NS: Picking the secondary is making a bet on potential, and with this group, that’s a bet I’m willing to take. They probably have a lower floor than the defensive line or linebackers, but I think their ceiling is also higher. Dallas Lloyd takes over the mantle as the veteran leader, and there’s massive amounts of talent around him. Quenton Meeks is a star in the making; he showed a knack for coming up big in the biggest moments last year, and with a little more consistency could be one of the best defensive backs in the Pac-12. Alijah Holder was solid last year as well, and Frank Buncom, Terrance Alexander and Alameen Murphy mean there’s a lot of skilled players providing depth at cornerback. The safety position might be even better, with Zach Hoffpauir returning and Justin Reid, Ben Edwards and Brandon Simmons all in the mix for playing time alongside Lloyd. That’s a lot of highly touted recruits who have had a year to learn under Stanford’s brilliant defensive coaching, and this year Stanford should begin to reap the fruits of their labor.

 

Take your pick: Stanford will allow over/under the 22.6 points per game given up last year.

AM: Over. I actually expect the defense to be a little bit better than last year in a pure sense, but in terms of points per game, it’s fighting up against two pretty significant confounding variables. One potential obstacle is the unit’s counterpart on the other side of the ball, which will have to break in a new quarterback and offensive line and could hand the ball over to the opponent a few more times per game. An even more difficult barrier, however, comes from the veritable murderer’s row that is the Pac-12 Conference this year. Aside from Oregon and maybe Cal, it’s hard to imagine that anybody on the Cardinal’s schedule won’t have a better offense this year than last, and at least a few teams should improve by significant margins. If Stanford’s talent comes together quickly I think it could counteract these changes and maintain or improve its numbers from last year, but it’s more likely that some drop-off will occur.

VL: I’m going to concur with Mather on this one and say slightly over. Stanford’s mark of 22.6 points per game given up last season was awfully impressive given that the Cardinal were essentially replacing their entire defensive line and secondary, and it sure seems logical to think that the defense is in line for an improvement with more continuity heading into 2016. However, let’s not forget that Stanford hit the lottery last season when it came to facing inexperienced quarterbacks. In total, Stanford faced a first-year starter or backup quarterback in seven of its 14 contests in 2015. The Cardinal likely won’t be so fortunate this time around and must confront the additional hurdle of meeting many of the most potent offenses on the schedule away from Stanford Stadium. And, as Mather astutely pointed out, the uncertainty on offense with a new quarterback and offensive line might make things even harder on the defense. In short, I expect the Cardinal defense to again contend for the title of best in the conference, but beating the points per game tally set by last year’s squad seems very tough.

NS: I agree with most of the points that you guys make, but I want to make a case for the under. One of the defense’s biggest problems last year was that they gave up a lot of quick scoring drives. The defense gave up 129 pass plays of 10+ yards last season, good for 107th in the country (out of 128 teams). The secondary should be much improved, which should limit those plays and force opposing teams to put together longer scoring drives. Stanford should be better at every level of the defense, and there are a number of games in which I wouldn’t be surprised to see them give up fewer points. They gave up 24 points to Oregon State last year and got absolutely destroyed by Notre Dame and Oregon. If they can limit those teams this year, they could easily give up fewer points per game. And in case you were wondering, the last time Stanford gave up more than 22.6 points per game? That would be 2009. I trust in Lance Anderson.

 

Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’ stanford.edu and Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Football preview: Quarterback http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/25/football-preview-quarterback/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=football-preview-quarterback http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/25/football-preview-quarterback/#respond Fri, 26 Aug 2016 06:06:44 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116796 This is the fifth of a 12-part preview of the 2016 football season.Part 1 focused on the running backs and fullbacks. Part 2 featured a roundtable on the offense. Part 3 focused on the tight ends and receivers. Part 4 focused on the offensive line.

In a nutshell

In David Shaw’s words, “the quarterback’s job is to deal the cards.” With a pro-style offense like Stanford’s, the quarterback needs to make good decisions and think quick, but at the end of the day, as Shaw sees it, his most important duty is to put the ball in the hands of his playmakers and lead the team down the field.

Granted, that’s an easy statement to make when you have the dealers that Shaw has had over his tenure at Stanford. After long reigns at the helm from both Andrew Luck and Kevin Hogan, the next Stanford quarterback will look to make his mark in Cardinal lore as the season begins in just a week.

For the time being, that quarterback will be senior Ryan Burns. Shaw made the announcement just yesterday, saying that while Burns and junior Keller Chryst have been “mostly neck-and-neck the whole way,” Burns has been “just a little bit ahead.” Burns will get the start against Kansas State, marking Stanford’s first game without Kevin Hogan under center in three and a half years.

But the battle is far from over. As opposed to the start of the 2012 season, when Josh Nunes was named the outright starter over Brett Nottingham, the opener will see both Burns and Chryst taking snaps. Even as Burns has started to take a majority of reps in practices, Chryst will be involved to some capacity. Given how late into camp the announcement came, it’s certainly possible that Shaw may change his mind as the season goes on, but for the time being, Burns will be leading Stanford’s first drive of the year.

Having questions at the quarterback position is an unfamiliar spot for Stanford, and given the player Hogan became last season, the comparisons are surely forthcoming. But to Shaw, such comparisons aren’t worth making.

“We only gave Kevin what he was ready for, and it’s the same thing here, we’ll give these guys what they’re ready for,” Shaw said about his two quarterbacks. “Thankfully they’re ready for quite a bit. You’re talking about a fourth-year senior and a third-year junior. Both these guys have been around this offense for quite some time now.”

For both Burns and Chryst, as well as freshman phenom and third-string quarterback K.J. Costello, the pieces surrounding them are plentiful. Whether it’s a pitch to junior Christian McCaffrey or sophomore Bryce Love, or a deep throw to fifth-year senior Michael Rector, there are a lot of ways that the Cardinal offense can dazzle. But it starts with a capable quarterback who can deal the cards. But with an offense like Stanford’s, it’s easier said than done.

“I’m three years in and and I’m just getting comfortable,” Burns said. “That’s the kind of offense we’re in.”

 

Junior Keller Chryst will see action in the season opener against Kansas State on Sept. 2, head coach David Shaw said. (BOB DREBIN/isiphotos.com)

Who’s returning?

Ryan Burns — Burns’ starting nod is a meaningful one, and it certainly demonstrates the improvements he’s made since arriving to The Farm. Since his days of running the triple option at Stone Bridge High School in Virginia, Burns has learned a lot in the shadow of Kevin Hogan. He’s completed just one pass in his Stanford career, against UC Davis in 2014. Last year, he came in in four games, rushing 4 times for 13 yards. But if the touchdown pass he threw to sophomore Trent Irwin in this year’s Spring Game is any indication, Burns has quite some talent as a pure passer, and he’ll certainly have chances to get his arsenal of wideouts involved.

Keller Chryst — Chryst is, in a lot of ways, pretty similar to Burns, both in terms of skill set and build (both are listed at 6-foot-5, while Chryst is listed at 236 pounds, compared to Burns’ 232). Last year, he came in just a bit more than Burns, and certainly got to pass more as he completed 5-of-9 passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. He also delivered a pretty memorable block in Stanford’s game against Arizona, highlighting his tenacity and reputation as a pretty physical player. And while he isn’t starting against Kansas State, Shaw knows he’ll do what it takes to make the Cardinal better.

“He’s a great teammate,” Shaw said of Chryst. “He understands the coaching decision, but he also knows he’ll have a chance to influence the game, and he’s excited about it. He should be—he’s earned it.”

 

Newcomers to watch for

K.J. Costello — The jewel of the 2016 recruiting class and perhaps the quarterback of the future for Stanford, Costello will get to watch from the bench for at least one year. The high school standout set 19 school records at Santa Margarita Catholic. He was one of the Cardinal’s earliest commits, which is certainly a sign of his excitement for the organization. The excitement definitely goes both ways, as Costello’s size, accuracy, strength and quickness make him a sensational player to keep an eye out for.

 

After a rocky start to the 2015 campaign, Kevin Hogan (middle) led the Cardinal to the No. 3 spot in the final AP poll. (KEVIN HSU/The Stanford Daily)

After a rocky start to the 2015 campaign, Kevin Hogan (middle) led the Cardinal to the No. 3 spot in the final AP poll. (KEVIN HSU/The Stanford Daily)

Key departures

Kevin Hogan — Hogan played himself into Stanford history over the last few years, gaining a reputation for tremendous leadership and big plays. It worked out well for Hogan, who was drafted in the fifth round by the Kansas City Chiefs and remains in the mix for backup quarterback. But it certainly leaves a void for Stanford. The memories of Kevin Hogan will remain with Stanford fans for a long time: the perfect record against UCLA, the drive against Notre Dame last season. And Burns, Chryst and Costello will look to continue the lineage of strong Stanford quarterbacks this year.

 

Projected depth chart

  1. Ryan Burns
  2. Keller Chryst
  3. K.J. Costello

Others: Brent Peus, Jack Richardson

 

Contact Sandip Srinivas at sandip ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/25/football-preview-quarterback/feed/ 0 Keller Chryst Sophomore quarterback Keller Chryst may see playing time this Saturday against Oregon State due to senior quarterback Kevin Hogan's ankle injury. (BOB DREBIN/isiphotos.com) SPO.100715.fb After a rocky start to the 2015 campaign, Kevin Hogan (middle) led the Cardinal to the No. 3 spot in the final AP poll. (KEVIN HSU/The Stanford Daily)
Football preview: Offensive line http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/25/football-preview-offensive-line/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=football-preview-offensive-line http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/25/football-preview-offensive-line/#respond Thu, 25 Aug 2016 11:19:16 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116784 This is the fourth of a 12-part preview of the 2016 football season.Part 1 focused on the running backs and fullbacks. Part 2 featured a roundtable on the offense. Part 3 focused on the tight ends and receivers.

In a nutshell

Christian McCaffrey gets all the headlines and magazine covers, and Ryan Burns gets all the media buzz as Stanford’s newly minted starting quarterback, but everyone around The Farm knows the universal truth that football games are, first and foremost, won and lost in the trenches.

Blue-chip dominance on the offensive line was a huge part of what spurred Stanford’s rise to national dominance in the last decade, and we saw in 2014 just how badly things could go wrong with shaky offensive line play from the Cardinal. It’s no coincidence that Stanford’s surge back to the Rose Bowl last season and one of the best offensive seasons in school history coincided with the maturation of the program’s best offensive line recruiting class ever.

With that in mind, the major “if” that could trip up a Stanford offense returning most of its skill players from last year’s legendary campaign concerns the fact that the Cardinal will have to replace three of their offensive linemen from last season. And those are pretty significant losses: Along with two-year starting center Graham Shuler, they lose Josh Garnett — the winner of the Outland Trophy (awarded to the nation’s best interior lineman) — and Kyle Murphy, who should make the Green Bay Packers’ roster this season.

In their absence, the Cardinal will ask junior center Jesse Burkett to assume a starting role after seeing limited action last season in garbage time, while versatile veteran David “Salty Dave” Bright isn’t yet locked into a position but appears locked into a starting role. Bright’s position will likely depend on the outcome of the battle between juniors Brandon Fanaika and A.T. Hall for the final vacancy.

That trio will join fifth-year senior Johnny Caspers, a team captain that will start for a third straight season at right guard, and junior Casey Tucker, who will flip to protect Burns’ blind side at left tackle after steadily maturing at right tackle for the Cardinal last season.

It’s unfair to immediately expect the new-look 2016 offensive line to have growing pains before they’ve even had a chance to prove themselves on the field, but Stanford fans should absolutely be prepared for the possibility that a brutal gauntlet of Kansas State, USC, UCLA and Washington to open the season could result in another shaky transition for Stanford’s new starters up front.

Of course, there’s also the chance that they might hit the ground running and not struggle at all — they’re certainly talented enough for that — but it’s impossible to tell what the strengths and weaknesses of the new-look Tunnel Workers’ Union will be until they’ve had a chance to step onto a real football field and face real opponents. Until then, we can only speculate.

What’s not speculation, though, is that the success of Stanford’s offensive line will be one of the most pivotal factors in determining whether the Cardinal will knock on the door of the College Football Playoff or limp into another Foster Farms Bowl this season.

Junior Casey Tucker (right) will flip from right tackle to left tackle as one of two returning starters on the Cardinal's offensive line. (BOB DREBIN/stanfordphoto.com)

Junior Casey Tucker (right) will flip from right tackle to left tackle as one of two returning starters on the Cardinal’s offensive line. (BOB DREBIN/stanfordphoto.com)

Who’s returning?

Casey Tucker (LT) — The former four-star recruit out of Arizona was the youngest of Stanford’s starting offensive linemen last season, and that certainly showed at times over the course of 14 starts at right tackle. But by the end of the year, Tucker had developed into a experienced, well-rounded tackle that formed the final piece of Stanford’s clockwork offensive line, and Stanford will ask him to take the next step by moving him across the line to defend the blind side of the team’s shiny new starting quarterback. Kyle Murphy made a similar transition from 2014 to 2015 and didn’t miss a beat, and Tucker, who played primarily left tackle in high school, reportedly didn’t take long to adjust back to the left side over the course of the offseason. He’s focused his work on pass protection this offseason and, as a true junior, he’s ready to anchor the left side of the line in 2016 and could continue to develop into one of the best in the conference in his senior season.

Johnny Caspers (RG) — Voted a team captain by his peers a week ago, Caspers was part of the last offensive line facelift in 2014 and will be tasked with leading his position group through another such transition in 2016. Although he was overshadowed by left guard Josh Garnett last season, who was quite literally the best in the nation at his job, David Shaw would always remind the media that Caspers was quietly developing into a stellar offensive lineman and a respected leader on the roster — not quite as vocal as Shuler and Garnett, but impactful nonetheless. He was named to both Phil Steele’s and Athlon’s All-Pac-12 preseason second teams for the 2016 season and should provide a welcome oasis of consistency amidst a (literal) ton of moving pieces, though it remains to be seen if he will reprise his role as the short-yardage center. By the way, ask him about his research with worms.

David Bright (LG/RT) — “Salty Dave” is bigger than you, he’s stronger than you, he’s angrier than you, and he’s smarter than you. The biomechanical engineering major was Stanford’s go-to extra offensive lineman last season and saw significant action in the Cardinal’s heavy sets and goal-line packages playing both on the line and in a sort of H-back blocker position. He has the technique and the know-how to start (and excel) at both guard and tackle, and he’ll likely start at left guard if junior tackle A.T. Hall wins a starting job, or at right tackle if junior guard Brandon Fanaika instead comes out on top. If you need a reminder of what he’s capable of, just remember last season’s Oregon State game, when he entered at left tackle to replace an injured Kyle Murphy, and played well enough that a large chunk of Stanford fans didn’t even realize a change had occurred.

Junior tackle A.T. Hall (above) is in the competition for the final starting spot on Stanford's offensive line. He would start at right tackle. (JIM SHORIN/stanfordphoto.com)

Junior tackle A.T. Hall (above) is in the competition for the final starting spot on Stanford’s offensive line. He would start at right tackle. (JIM SHORIN/stanfordphoto.com)

Newcomers to watch for

Jesse Burkett (C) — Burkett will be pressed into action one year earlier than expected after Graham Shuler decided to forgo his fifth year and retire from football, but he appears ready for the spotlight after beating out sophomore Brian Chaffin for the starting job early in an impressive training camp. Burkett is a naturally quiet guy, but his keen intellect has reportedly helped him grasp the cerebral center position quickly, in which he will be responsible for not just blocking, but also reading opposing defenses and making pre-snap calls on the line. As has been tradition with previous Stanford backup centers, Burkett developed the mental part of his game in high-pressure situations with the “whiteboard” role on the sideline during game days, in which he helped diagram what was going on the field to aid the Cardinal’s coaches in making quick in-game adjustments as games unfolded.

A.T. Hall (RT) — Hall appears to be the favorite in the competition for the final starting spot on the offensive line after taking the majority of the snaps with the first-team line in the last few practices. The former three-star recruit out of Arizona primarily saw action last season in Stanford’s field goal packages (and would often be the first one off the sideline to jump into celebrations on the field after touchdowns, since he’d be needed for extra points) and played with the second-team line during the Cardinal and White Spring Game before making a strong progression over the course of the offseason to push guard Brandon Fanaika into a competition for the starting role. Even if he doesn’t win the starting job, he’s sure to see a huge workload this season given Stanford’s propensity to use extra linemen early and often — and offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren has said that Hall is among the six linemen that have stood head and shoulders above the rest of the pack in fall camp.

Brandon Fanaika (LG) — Fanaika seems to be on the cusp of losing his grasp on a starting role that appeared to be his after the end of last season, but as is the case with Hall, he is one of Bloomgren’s six preferred linemen, and so will see lots of action regardless of whether he ends up starting or not. If he earns the starting job, it would likely be as Garnett’s replacement at left guard, where he played in the Cardinal and White Spring Game with the first-team line and also saw game action in garbage time situations last year, though he was primarily used as an extra fullback in Stanford’s short-yardage “hippo” package. He is a former four-star recruit and was the ninth-best offensive guard in the nation as a high school senior in 2011 before he took a two-year mission prior to his Stanford enrollment.

Nick Wilson (G) — Although Bloomgren says there’s a significant gap between the Cardinal’s top six linemen and everyone else, he also says that Wilson, a sophomore, is the first man out and could factor into the playing time discussion this season. He redshirted last season but played right guard with the second-team line during the Cardinal and White Spring Game. He is likely a year away from seeing significant snaps, but could eventually be a candidate to hit the field as Stanford’s “ogre” lineman.

Nate Herbig (G) — The final lineman that Bloomgren pointed out as having impressed during fall camp has been true freshman Nate Herbig, who lives up to the “big” in his name by being listed at a whopping 350 pounds (that’s not a typo) on the Cardinal’s official roster. The Hawaiian has reportedly proven adept at moving other large human beings out of his way (really, no surprises there) and might see some time on the field as early as this year if Bloomgren can find situations to work him in.

Guard Joshua Garnett (left) won the Outland Trophy last season, awarded to the nation's best interior lineman, before being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Guard Joshua Garnett (left) won the Outland Trophy last season, awarded to the nation’s best interior lineman, before being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Key departures

Joshua Garnett (LG) — Stanford will sorely miss heavy Josh Garnett, a five-star recruit who struggled with his technique when he first broke through as a starter in 2014 but quickly developed into the best guard in the nation as a senior in 2015 and being awarded an Outland Trophy for his troubles. Garnett got some time in the spotlight last season when he launched Washington safety JoJo McIntosh into low-earth orbit with a hellacious block in space, and though most of his plays weren’t so flashy, his elite blocking helped make McCaffrey’s historic season possible. Not only was he a great lineman, but Garnett was also one of the most vocal presences in Stanford’s locker room and a team captain before Chip Kelly’s San Francisco 49ers wisely snatched him up in the first round of the NFL Draft. He’s actually in the race for the Niners’ starting left guard spot, so keep an eye on that as the season draws closer. His true finest hour in a Stanford uniform was undoubtedly in the 2012 Lawry’s Beef Bowl, when he ate upwards of 10 pounds of beef in one sitting.

Kyle Murphy (LT) — There were concerns that Kevin Hogan’s blind side would be more vulnerable after Andrus Peat declared for the NFL Draft following his junior season, but those concerns were quickly put to rest last season when Murphy flipped from right to left tackle and made a seamless transition from being a second-team All-Pac-12 selection as a junior to being a first-team All-Pac-12 selection as a senior playing a tougher position. The discipline and consistency he brought to Hogan’s blind side were second to none, and the Green Bay Packers, who snagged him in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, saw Murphy make a solid preseason debut after having been sidelined with a concussion for a few weeks.

Graham Shuler (C) — Shuler never really got showered with the accolades that his teammates on the line received last season, but he was a solid center and just about the best teammate anybody on the squad could ask for. The candid, outspoken Tennessee native became almost an unofficial spokesman for his teammates (there was no such thing as a bad Graham Shuler quote) and was particularly close with Christian McCaffrey. He elected to step away from football after the 2015 season in order to have time to pursue his passions off the field.

 

Projected depth chart

LT
Casey Tucker
David Bright

LG
David Bright
Brandon Fanaika

C
Jesse Burkett
Brian Chaffin

RG
Johnny Caspers
Nick Wilson

RT
A.T. Hall
David Bright

Others: Dylan Powell, Matthew Gutwald, Austin Maihen, Nate Herbig, Lucas Hinds, Clark Yarbrough, Devery Hamilton, Jack Dreyer, Henry Hattis

 

Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dhpark ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/25/football-preview-offensive-line/feed/ 0 Casey Tucker Junior Casey Tucker (right) will flip from right tackle to left tackle as one of two returning starters on the Cardinal's offensive line. (BOB DREBIN/stanfordphoto.com) A.T Hall Junior tackle A.T. Hall (above) is in the competition for the final starting spot on Stanford's offensive line. He would start at right tackle. (JIM SHORIN/stanfordphoto.com) Sr. offensive guard Joshua Garnett (51) Guard Joshua Garnett (left) won the Outland Trophy last season, awarded to the nation's best interior lineman, before being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)
Men’s soccer set to continue dominance in home opener against Penn State http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/24/mens-soccer-set-to-continue-dominance-in-home-opener-against-penn-state/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mens-soccer-set-to-continue-dominance-in-home-opener-against-penn-state http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/24/mens-soccer-set-to-continue-dominance-in-home-opener-against-penn-state/#respond Thu, 25 Aug 2016 05:56:21 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116782 The Stanford Men’s soccer team is off to a promising start for the 2016 season. The reigning National Champions, who beat Clemson 4-0 in the College Cup Final in Kansas City last December, have begun their preseason with the same drive and determination that got them back-to-back Pac-12 titles, and a 31-5-6 record over the last two seasons. Their 18 wins for the 2015 season were the second-most successful in school history, and they set a Stanford record for league wins.

Recent polling from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America ranks Stanford No. 1 in the 2016 Preseason Top 25. The Stanford Men’s soccer team received 20 first place votes and 579 points. The 2016 Pac-12 Preseason Coaches poll places the team second behind UCLA with 21 points and 2 first place votes.

Even though the team is replacing five starters, including MAC Hermann Trophy winner Jordan Morris, and two-time Defensive Player of the Year for Pac-12 Brandon Vincent, there remains a strong, talented nucleus of players, including a defensive unit which ranked sixth in the country on goals-against average in 2015.

That strength continues with the recent announcement that junior midfielder Corey Baird, senior goalkeeper Andrew Epstein and junior defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce were named to the 2016 Preseason Men’s Soccer All-Pac 12 Team by a vote of the league’s coaches.

In 2015, Baird started all 23 matches and was named to the College Cup All-Tournament Team, in addition to the All-Pac-12 second team. Baird tied for second in the country with 13 assists – the fifth-highest mark for a single season in Stanford history.

Epstein was a CoSIDA Third Team Academic All-American and NSCAA Scholar All-West Region pick in 2015. He was also selected to the College Cup All-Tournament Team. He stands at 11th in Stanford history in saves (114) and has been selected to the All-Pac-12 second team twice.

In 2015, Hilliard-Arce started at center back in all 23 of Stanford’s games. He was voted to the Top Drawer Soccer Best XI second team and the All-Pac-12 second team. In addition, on August 23, Hilliard-Arce was named to the Top Drawers Soccer 2016 Men’s Division I Preseason Best XI First Team.

This season the Cardinal will host 10 regular-season games at Cagan Stadium, where the team was undefeated in 2015. In fact, since 2014, Stanford’s goals-against average at home is a negligible 0.54.

In their opening exhibition match against Sacramento State on August 13, the Cardinal continued where they left off last season at home. Stanford dominated with a 5-0 victory. Junior Foster Langsdorf tallied a pair of goals, as did Baird, senior midfielder Trevor Hyman and freshman midfielder Jared Gilbey.

The Cardinal racked up a second exhibition win at their first preseason away game against Cal Poly on August 17. After both teams scored less than three minutes apart midway through the second half, Langsdorf scored at 89:51, joining redshirt freshman defender Tanner Beason’s initial goal and breaking the tie to give Stanford a 2-1 win.

The Cardinal will open their season against Penn State at home on Friday, Aug. 26, at 5:00 p.m.

 

Contact Matthew Bernstein at mbernste ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Ryan Burns named starting quarterback for season opener http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/24/ryan-burns-named-starting-quarterback-for-season-opener/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ryan-burns-named-starting-quarterback-for-season-opener http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/24/ryan-burns-named-starting-quarterback-for-season-opener/#respond Wed, 24 Aug 2016 23:51:05 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116772 Head coach David Shaw announced after Wednesday’s practice that senior Ryan Burns will be the starting quarterback for the season opener against Kansas State, beating out junior Keller Chryst. Although Burns will play “a good chunk of the game,” Chryst will still receive playing time, according to Shaw.

The announcement comes as a shock to many Cardinal fans, as Chryst seemed the favorite to win the starting job coming into spring training camp. Chryst—a 4-star recruit and the 3rd-ranked pro-style quarterback in the class of 2014 by 247Sports—backed up Kevin Hogan last season, completing 5-of-9 passes for 59 yards in four games last year.

Comparatively, Burns—a 6-foot-5, 232-pound, 4-star recruit and the 12th-best pro-style quarterback in the class of 2013—has played in six games and has thrown only one pass over the past two years.

“There hasn’t been a huge separation between the two. Both guys have played extremely well,” Shaw said. “Ryan’s just been barely enough ahead to get the nod, but I think both guys are going to play and hopefully help us win.”

Stanford, ranked 8th in the preseason AP Poll, kicks off its season against Kansas State on Sept. 2 at Stanford Stadium.

 

Contact Laura Stickells at lauraczs ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

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Football preview: Wide receivers, tight ends http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/24/football-preview-wide-receivers-tight-ends/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=football-preview-wide-receivers-tight-ends http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/24/football-preview-wide-receivers-tight-ends/#respond Wed, 24 Aug 2016 11:20:55 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116759 This is the third of a 12-part preview of the 2016 football season. Part 1 focused on the running backs and fullbacks. Part 2 featured a roundtable on the offense.

In a nutshell

Let’s face it: Being a wide receiver at Stanford University hasn’t exactly been a glamorous job in the last few years.

Back in the days of yore, when Ryan Whalen, Griff Whalen and Chris Owusu roamed the earth and Andrew Luck was just a college superstar blissfully unaware that he would one day have his internal organs puréed by big, scary NFL men, there was glamor to be had in Stanford’s passing game. But since then, Ty Montgomery has been the only Stanford receiver to have even made a dent in the national consciousness (apart from a brief Francis Owusu cameo), and Cardinal wideouts’ playing time has been dictated by their ability to block on the perimeters of running plays almost as much as it has been by their ability to… you know, receive.

This year’s corps of Stanford wideouts might finally be the long-awaited group that has the potential to change all that.

They have breakneck speed in Michael Rector, Isaiah Brandt-Sims and Jay Tyler; they’ve got bigger guys that can bully defenders and make tough catches in Francis Owusu and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside; and, of course, they’ve got the nation’s next breakout star in Trenton Irwin. This crew might well have the most all-around untapped potential in any receiving corps Stanford has fielded in its recent history.

And of course, the tight ends really need no introduction. Stanford has become a bona fide pipeline for tight ends to reach the NFL, with Zach Ertz and his shiny new $42.5 million contract extension serving as the flag-bearer of the group. Junior Dalton Schultz is set to join the lineage of Ertz, Coby Fleener, Austin Hooper and other alumni as the next elite Stanford tight end, with veteran Greg Taboada and top recruit Kaden Smith (if he’s healthy) providing a talented supporting cast.

All that’s to say: Whoever wins the starting quarterback job will have a wealth of talent to take advantage of in the passing game, which certainly has the potential to shine this season if the conditions are right.

Oh, by the way, that McCaffrey guy catches passes, too. Lots of them.

Fifth-year senior Michael Rector (right) is going to be a focal point of Stanford's passing game and remains one of the conference's most dynamic deep threats after he chose to return for his final season of collegiate eligibility. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Fifth-year senior Michael Rector (right) is going to be a focal point of Stanford’s passing game and remains one of the conference’s most dynamic deep threats after he chose to return for his final season of collegiate eligibility. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Who’s returning?

Michael Rector (WR) — For the longest time, it looked like Rector would forgo his fifth year of eligibility and declare early for the NFL Draft, which wouldn’t have been unreasonable for a guy with NFL speed coming off a 34-catch, 559-yard season. But Rector had a change of heart in the 11th hour and elected to return for his final year at Stanford, and this receiving corps is much better off for it.

For the first few years of his Stanford career, Rector’s job was to just outrun everybody and get open for deep shots (and he was good at that), but in the last two years, he’s really developed as an all-around receiver to become more of a go-to receiver in the intermediate game as well. As evidence of that, he led Stanford in targets last season with 55 but still led the team with 16.4 yards per catch, indicating his ability to get open as one of Kevin Hogan’s top options but also his big-play potential. With Devon Cajuste gone, Rector will be the veteran anchor of this group and remains Stanford’s premier big-play threat over the top — but don’t be surprised if he surprises defenses by occasionally showing off his expanded route tree as well.

Trenton Irwin (WR) — The only reason I didn’t automatically anoint Rector as Stanford’s No. 1 receiver is because this true sophomore might very well challenge him for that title right out of the gate this season. Even as early as Pac-12 Media Days in July, David Shaw has been dropping Irwin’s name as someone to keep an eye on, and Christian McCaffrey boasted that Irwin is going to be “one of the biggest sparks in college football.” That’s not a boast to take lightly.

Irwin was described as the best high-school route-runner that Shaw had ever seen before he arrived at Stanford as the five-star crown jewel of the 2015 recruiting class, and his will to go above and beyond to succeed from the moment he stepped on The Farm was evident. He and quarterback Keller Chryst would stick around for extra reps on their own initiative after practices last season, even though his talent and technique were never in question. Shaw elected to use Irwin in moderation last season, only targeting him 18 times, but he pulled down 12 of those catches for 150 yards — often to move the chains on important situations. Just as the coaching staff took the training wheels off McCaffrey after a limited freshman season and saw the sophomore seize the spotlight, expect the same for Irwin this year.

Francis Owusu (WR) — Best known for his surreal catch on a defender’s back against UCLA last season that earned him an ESPY nomination for “Best Play,” Owusu is a guy that came in as a highly touted four-star prospect but still hasn’t taken the next step to carve out a major role in Stanford’s offense. Entering his final year of eligibility, it’s now or never for the big senior, who caught just 13 passes for 175 yards last season and now has to deal with a talented group of underclassmen chomping at the bit for increased opportunities.

Dalton Schultz (TE) — The junior tight end is on both Phil Steele’s and Athlon’s All-Pac-12 preseason first team, and for good reason: With Austin Hooper gone to the NFL, Schultz becomes the unquestioned No. 1 tight end on Stanford’s roster, which is a position that has traditionally been a very fruitful and central part of the Cardinal’s passing game. Schultz was the former top recruit out of the state of Utah and was known in high school for his pass-catching ability, but Stanford elected to use him primarily as a blocker last season with Hooper as the top pass-catching option among tight ends, only targeting Schultz 13 times, which resulted in 10 catches for 121 yards.

With an expanded role as a pass-catcher, Schultz could show a versatility in both the running game and passing game unseen for quite some time at the tight end position at Stanford. While Hooper was primarily a pass-catching tight end, Schultz was used last season primarily as a run blocker in Stanford’s heavy packages. Keep in mind that the Cardinal have traditionally used extra offensive linemen in lieu of tight ends in those heavy sets, but Schultz’s run-blocking ability was good enough that Shaw and offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren would not only leave him out there in those situations, but also not hesitate to run behind him when needed. Because of how he excels in both elements of the game, it will be difficult for defenses to know what to expect from Stanford’s next star tight end on any given play — and with Schultz’s route-running ability, that split-second indecision could cost those defenders dearly.

Greg Taboada (TE) — The senior took a step back in Stanford’s offense last season after Hooper’s emergence, notching just five catches for 66 yards after reeling in eight for 136 yards as a sophomore in 2014. The 6-foot-5, 248-pound tight end started to see more action in specialized packages, particularly in goal-line fade situations, in which he and Rollins Stallworth would line up on opposite sides of the formation and exploit mismatches against smaller defensive backs. Taboada isn’t anticipated to be a go-to guy on this offense because of Schultz’s projected emergence, but he can fight for tough catches and will likely continue to have his niche in goal-line and multiple-tight-end looks.

Sophomore Jay Tyler (above) could be used in a number of ways to integrate his blinding speed into Stanford's passing game. (DAVID HICKEY/stanfordphoto.com)

Sophomore Jay Tyler (above) could be used in a number of ways to integrate his blinding speed into Stanford’s passing game. (DAVID HICKEY/stanfordphoto.com)

Newcomers to watch for

Isaiah Brandt-Sims (WR) — Brandt-Sims is the fastest man on the team and can probably beat any defensive back in the country in a footrace, but his relatively small stature (5-foot-11, 181 pounds) and lack of versatility are factors that could hold back his emergence. When Brandt-Sims is on the field, it will likely be a safe bet that he’s going to be running a deep route to stretch the defense, which means that opposing defenses can just send safety help in his direction and limit the damage he can do. Expect him to see the field in some specialized packages, but because Rector also brings deep-play potential and a more versatile route tree, Brandt-Sims’ opportunities will likely be limited until Rector graduates at the end of this season.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (WR) — With Devon Cajuste lost to graduation, Arcega-Whiteside is expected to step up and become Stanford’s next big possession receiver after using his redshirt last season. A three-star recruit out of South Carolina, Arcega-Whiteside has impressed in training camp but could be limited in his playing time with Irwin, Rector, Owusu and Schultz anticipated to be the top targets for Stanford’s quarterback, at least in the early goings. He’ll quickly emerge as one of Stanford’s premier targets in years to come, particularly once Rector and Owusu graduate at the end of the season.

Jay Tyler (WR) — Tyler is one of the most intriguing pieces of the puzzle this season. In years past, Stanford hasn’t really found a place in its offense for players as small as Tyler (5-foot-8, 169 pounds), but the Louisiana native’s speed and elusiveness make him a tough guy to defend for opposing defensive backs. And if he lines up in the slot and gets matched up against a linebacker, watch out. Tyler brings a lot of possibilities: He could be used in a Kelsey Young-like role in sweeps and reverses; he might be used in the slot as a traditional receiver; he could be leaned on in the screen game. Tyler isn’t likely to see a ton of action because his size limits his run-blocking ability, but however Shaw and company do choose to use him, it’ll absolutely make for entertaining football.

Kaden Smith (TE) — A torn ACL and MCL in December has held the nation’s second-best tight end recruit out of football action for fall training camp, but Shaw has stated that he would not be opposed to using Smith as a true freshman if his knee recovery goes according to plan. Smith is one of the most heralded pass-catching tight end recruits in recent memory after he recorded 144 career receptions for 2,260 yards in high school, including 57 catches for 917 yards as a senior — in the unforgiving world of Texas high school football, no less. Stanford will likely ease him into game action due to the nature of his injury and its many other options in the passing game, but if he does play this season, his freak athleticism is sure to demand a good look from the coaches. He also dunked a shot put once, so there’s that.

Wide receiver Devon Cajuste (center) used his size to be a solid possession receiver but also had deceptive speed that allowed him to get behind defenses. Stanford hopes sophomore J.J. Arcega-Whiteside can take Cajuste's place. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Wide receiver Devon Cajuste (center) used his size to be a solid possession receiver but also had deceptive speed that allowed him to get behind defenses. Stanford hopes sophomore J.J. Arcega-Whiteside can take Cajuste’s place. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Key departures

Devon Cajuste (WR) — At the start of his career, Cajuste chose Stanford because it was the only school that would let him play wide receiver, his preferred position, instead of switching to tight end, which other programs thought better suited his body type. Once on The Farm, Cajuste worked hard to combat the perception that his big frame stopped him from being fast and nimble by posting 27 catches for 383 yards (14.2 yards per catch) as a fifth-year senior last season, and then going on to shock the nation by posting the fastest time among all side receivers with a 6.49 in the three-cone drill (an agility test) at the NFL Combine. Once he took over as a starter in 2013, Cajuste was one of Kevin Hogan’s most reliable targets, catching 91 passes for 1,596 yards as part of a stellar Stanford career. He’ll live on in Stanford lore for his legendary Senior Day performance against Notre Dame, in which he caught five passes for 125 yards, including a 27-yard completion with 10 seconds left on the clock that put the Cardinal in range for the game-winning field goal that capped one of the more improbable game-winning drives in recent memory.

(“Ukulele!” – Gus Johnson)

Austin Hooper (TE) — Along with Greg Taboada and Eric Cotton in the 2013 recruiting class, Hooper was expected to be part of the new-age “Tree Amigos” tight end crew when he first arrived on The Farm. That didn’t end up panning out, because Hooper quickly asserted himself as the best of the bunch and exploded one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the nation in two seasons as a starter, in which he combined for 74 catches for 937 yards and eight touchdowns. He tied Christian McCaffrey for second on the team with 53 targets last season before surprising many by forgoing not one, but two remaining years of collegiate eligibility to declare early for the NFL Draft and eventually become a third-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons. His departure opens the door for Schultz to seize the reins and become Stanford’s next impact tight end.

Rollins Stallworth (WR) — He might not have had the flashy stats of the other receivers on the team, but that was never a problem for Stallworth, who put his head down and worked hard for five years to work his way up the ladder from walk-on wide receiver all the way into Stanford’s regular wide receiver rotation as a fifth-year senior in 2015. Stallworth’s contributions on the scout team and, later, as Stanford’s best run-blocking wide receiver, never showed up on box scores and made him easy for casual fans to overlook, but it says a lot that in 2015, when Stanford would send out its more run-heavy personnel packages, Stallworth would be the lone wide receiver out on the field as the wideout most trusted by his coaches to do the unglamorous work and block for his teammates without complaint. He was rewarded for his five years of service to the program when he caught the only touchdown of his career in garbage time against Arizona — and fittingly enough for him, it came on an end-zone fade.

 

Projected depth chart

Wide receiver:

1a. Michael Rector
1b. Trenton Irwin
2. Francis Owusu
3. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
4. Jay Tyler

Others: Donald Stewart, Taijuan Thomas, Paxton Segina, Isaiah Brandt-Sims, Sidhart Krishnamurthi, Harry Schwartz, Treyvion Foster

Tight end:

1. Dalton Schultz
2. Greg Taboada
3. Kaden Smith
4a. Scooter Harrington
4b. Ben Snyder

 

Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dhpark ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/24/football-preview-wide-receivers-tight-ends/feed/ 0 FB-NotreDame-8 Fifth-year senior Michael Rector (right) is going to be a focal point of Stanford's passing game and remains one of the conference's most dynamic deep threats after he chose to return for his final season of collegiate eligibility. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily) Jay Tyler Sophomore Jay Tyler (above) could be used in a number of ways to integrate his blinding speed into Stanford's passing game. (DAVID HICKEY/stanfordphoto.com) DSC_1285-141 Wide receiver Devon Cajuste (center) used his size to be a solid possession receiver but also had deceptive speed that allowed him to get behind defenses. Stanford hopes sophomore J.J. Arcega-Whiteside can take Cajuste's place. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)
Football preview podcast: Examining the offense http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/24/football-preview-podcast-examining-the-offense/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=football-preview-podcast-examining-the-offense http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/24/football-preview-podcast-examining-the-offense/#respond Wed, 24 Aug 2016 11:05:00 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116760 In the second part of our preview podcast coverage leading up to Stanford’s Sept. 2 opener against Kansas State, KZSU play-by-play broadcaster Nicky Sullivan was joined by Daily football analysts Do-Hyoung Park and Vihan Lakshman to talk about the quarterback battle, the offensive line, Christian McCaffrey’s role and more.

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Newest faces of Stanford basketball prepare for life on the Farm http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/23/newest-faces-of-stanford-basketball-prepare-for-life-on-the-farm/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=newest-faces-of-stanford-basketball-prepare-for-life-on-the-farm http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/23/newest-faces-of-stanford-basketball-prepare-for-life-on-the-farm/#respond Wed, 24 Aug 2016 06:57:53 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116684 Kodye Pugh, a four-star recruit from Baltimore, Maryland, averaged 14 points and six rebounds during his senior season at Blair Academy in New Jersey. (Courtesy of Stanford Athletics)

Kodye Pugh, a four-star recruit from Baltimore, Maryland, averaged 14 points and six rebounds during his senior season at Blair Academy in New Jersey. (Courtesy of Stanford Athletics)

While most students find themselves pursuing opportunities outside of Stanford, the two newest members of Stanford men’s basketball have spent their summer becoming acquainted with the campus they will soon call home.

Trevor Stanback, a 6-foot-10 center from Pasadena, and Kodye Pugh, a four-star recruit from Baltimore, Maryland, are both adjusting to a brand new environment both in and out of basketball.

In their first couple months as Cardinal, Pugh and Stanback have already experienced some adversity during their transition into college athletics. Both freshmen are preparing for their first collegiate basketball season without the coach that recruited them to the program.

Pugh and Stanback committed to Stanford under the direction of former head coach Johnny Dawkins, before learning about the firing of Dawkins in mid-March through social media.

While both were stunned to see the news, Jerod Haase visited them both soon after he filled the vacancy as head coach.

“[Coach Haase] came to visit me at Blair [Academy in New Jersey], and he watched me work out, sat down with me afterwards, and we talked for a while,” said Pugh. “Instantly I knew, this is an amazing guy.

“I did my own research before he had come and found out that his style of play matched mine perfectly. Coach Dawkins is an amazing coach. He’s in a good position right now at UCF, but I was more committed to the school. Coach Haase — he reassured me that I would be a perfect fit at Stanford.”

Coach Haase had been an assistant basketball coach for Kansas University and North Carolina University before earning his first head coaching position at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 2012.

At UAB, he led his team to an overall record of 80-53, a conference USA regular season championship and a conference USA Tournament Championship. During his third season at the helm, Haase accomplished his goal of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. He was recognized as the Conference USA Coach of the Year in 2016.

“He’s definitely committed to what he says. Anything he says, he plans on doing and will make sure it happens, regardless,” said Stanback of the traits Haase brings to the Cardinal program.

Pugh also noted that coach Haase has placed immense focus on building relationships and trust throughout the program.

Despite the unfamiliar environment and the coaching change, the pair of freshmen remain optimistic and determined for the upcoming season.

Pugh, a 6-foot-8 forward, looks forward to his time on the Farm. “We’re excited to be here. [It’s] a blessing and a great opportunity to play for this team, play for this school [and] represent this amazing program.”

In his junior season at the Boys’ Latin School of Maryland, Pugh averaged 20.2 points and 10.1 rebounds, which earned him offers from 22 major universities.

Pugh’s reasons for choosing Stanford over all of the other schools schools was simple.

“Stanford has the perfect combination of education and basketball. You can’t get a better situation here,” he said. “It’s not just a four-year decision, it’s a lifetime decision; so I decided to set myself up for life.”

Push has completely dedicated himself to summer practices. “I’m continuing to improve my entire, overall game. Just working on tightening my handle, getting faster, getting quicker, working on my jump shot [and] working on being a better defender.”

Trevor Stanback joins Kodye Pugh in Stanford's 2016 recruiting class. The 6-foot-10 center from Pasadena (Courtesy of Stanford Athletics)

Trevor Stanback joins Kodye Pugh in Stanford’s 2016 recruiting class. The 6-foot-10 center from Pasadena averaged 3.6 blocks during his senior season. (Courtesy of Stanford Athletics)

Stanback has a similar outlook in regards to the opportunity to play for Stanford. “It’s just such an opportunity that you can’t pass down. As soon as I found out that I had the ability to come here, I hopped on it immediately,” he said.

“I sent my application a week after I got it. I was really excited. It was a really long process, but I’m glad I did it. I think it was the best decision I’ve ever made for myself.”

Stanback averaged 14.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.6 blocks as a senior at Maranatha High School. The center believes he can contribute on both ends of the floor effectively for the Cardinal.

“I’m a good defender. I am able to time shots pretty well, so I am either blocking them or altering the shots. That’s probably my main thing,” he said. “I’m also pretty good at the post. I’m able to battle down there with other bigs.”

Stanback also noted his commitment to developing his overall game. He has recently been working to improve his ball handling and perimeter shooting, as he aspires to step away from the post and score more often.

It is evident Pugh and Stanback are putting in the work that comes with being a Cardinal. To Pugh, that work ethic was part of preparing himself for the recruiting process.

“There’s a lot of hard work that leads up to that process. It’s years and years of dedication, blood, sweat and tears,” he said. “To be able to sign that letter of intent is just icing on the cake — the perfect moment, making my family proud. I’m blessed to be able to make it this far in my life and my career.”

Stanback believes the Cardinal will need cohesiveness in order for coach Haase and company to make their own NCAA tournament appearance this season. Stanback is confident the Cardinal have “all of the pieces” and that once they come together and realize their common goals, they’ll achieve them.

Both athletes are also aware of their responsibilities off the court. Pugh and Stanback have shown their commitment to both the community and classroom.

Stanback believes collegiate athletes should reach out to those who are less fortunate in their respective communities.

“Athletes are idolized everywhere,” he said. “People look up to us and to all athletes around the world, so I feel like we have a big influence and a big responsibility to share our voice and share the voice of the community.”

In regards to academics, Pugh intends on exploring majors like art, computer science and graphic design. Stanback is looking into combining psychology, basketball and possibly therapy to assist individuals with disabilities.

In the meantime, Pugh is enjoying his new life on the Farm. “I love it out here — the beautiful weather, the beautiful area, it’s [all] amazing.”

Pugh has already gotten a glimpse of the level of competition he’ll face at Stanford. He was able to work out with Brooklyn Nets guard and Palo Alto native Jeremy Lin, who played college ball at Harvard. The Cardinal are scheduled to play their first game against the Crimson on November 11 in Shanghai.

When asked for predictions regarding the upcoming season, Pugh put it simply: “It’ll be a season to watch.”

 

Contact Andrew Espinoza at drw23espi ‘at’ gmail.com

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http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/23/newest-faces-of-stanford-basketball-prepare-for-life-on-the-farm/feed/ 0 Kodye Pugh Kodye Pugh, a four-star recruit from Baltimore, Maryland, averaged 14 points and six rebounds during his senior season at Blair Academy in New Jersey. (Courtesy of Stanford Athletics) Trevor Stanback Trevor Stanback joins Kodye Pugh in Stanford's 2016 recruiting class. The 6-foot-10 center from Pasadena (Courtesy of Stanford Athletics)
Football preview: Running backs, fullbacks http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/23/football-preview-running-backs-fullbacks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=football-preview-running-backs-fullbacks http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/23/football-preview-running-backs-fullbacks/#respond Tue, 23 Aug 2016 09:12:26 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116744 This is the first of a 12-part preview of the 2016 Stanford football season. Future parts will discuss the quarterback battle, defense, and the tough schedule ahead.

In a nutshell

Head coach David Shaw and company have a lot on their plates these days: finding a new starting quarterback, managing the reloading process on both the offensive and defensive lines and getting their team ready to handle a schedule that promises to hit like a freight train right out of the gate.

But if there’s one position group helping the Stanford coaching staff sleep better at night, it has to be the running backs. The Cardinal have hung their hats on a physical, run-centric brand of football for the better part of a decade now and feature one of the most talented backfields in the entire nation — a Diet Coke-Mentos type of combination that looks poised to erupt in the face of any defense in its path.

Stanford has had no shortage of deep backfields during Shaw’s tenure with the 2011 murderer’s row of Stepfan Taylor, Tyler Gaffney, Anthony Wilkerson and Jeremy Stewart serving as perhaps the best example. However, has any previous Stanford running back stable featured two stallions leading the charge quite like Christian McCaffrey and Bryce Love? Both return to action in 2016 after playing key roles for a high-powered 2015 Stanford offense and are reported to be bigger, faster and more explosive this time around.

In addition to the Cardinal’s two leading men in the backfield, the supporting actors have also generated quite a bit of buzz on The Farm, giving Shaw and Lance Taylor, the reigning national running backs coach of the year, plenty of intriguing options.

High expectations abound for the Cardinal in 2016 and if Stanford is to live up to the preseason billing of competing for a conference championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff, the elite talent in the backfield will surely play a major role. Let’s meet the key cogs in the Stanford running game machine below:

(SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Sophomore running back Bryce Love (center) did a lot with a small work load last season and is primed to thrive with a larger role in Stanford’s offense this season. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily)

Who’s returning?

Christian McCaffrey — How about we lead things off with the reigning AP Player of the Year who just put together the most statistically impressive season in the history of college football? In 2015, McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders’ single-season all-purpose yards mark by racking up 3,864 yards in nearly every possible way. Lest you question McCaffrey’s production as a pure runner, the Heisman trophy runner-up also wrested away Stanford’s single-season rushing record from Toby Gerhart after amassing 2,019 yards on the ground, becoming Stanford’s first 2,000-yard rusher in a season.

As the unquestioned alpha dog of this group, McCaffrey will once again be the centerpiece of the Stanford offense and a much-needed dose of stability as the Cardinal break in a new quarterback and three new starters on the offensive line. With the departure of short-yardage specialist Remound Wright, No. 5 might also see added time on the field in goal-line situations and potentially find the end zone more often than this eight trips to the promised land last season. Though he may not match his absurd numbers from a season ago with defenses laser-focused on containing him, McCaffrey will again pace Stanford with his production on the ground. As a team captain and battle-tested veteran, his leadership will also be a valuable asset for the Cardinal, especially at the start of the season.

Bryce Love — After providing a vital spark to the Stanford offense last season, Bryce Lightning looks poised to burst into a full-fledged flame in this upcoming campaign. His 2015 stats, 29 rushes for 226 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 15 receptions and 250 yards and another touchdown, might — in a vacuum — raise concerns about sample size, but it was the manner in which Love tallied those numbers that have fans and coaches alike ecstatic about his future. His shiftiness, ability to break tackles and scorching straight-line speed led to numerous highlight-worthy plays a season ago. Since then, the sophomore has continued to impress with dominant performances during spring practice with McCaffrey held out of action and throughout training camp.

Love’s emergence as a dynamic running and receiving threat could very well be the X-factor that pushes Stanford from “very good” into “elite” territory. It also provides the Cardinal with the ability not only to take some of the load off McCaffrey, but also to pair the two playmakers together in the backfield or as receivers to wreak havoc on the Pac-12. Last year, we saw the massive jump McCaffrey made in year two under Shaw, Taylor and strength and conditioning coach Shannon Turley; Love just might be in line for a similar explosion.

Daniel Marx — Shaw was extremely effusive in his praise for Marx during training camp, telling reporters, “If there’s a better fullback in the country, I haven’t seen him.” Marx, a junior who saw his 2015 season cut short to 11 games following a leg injury, will return to action in the ever-critical starting fullback role for the Cardinal. Once again, Marx will be called on to serve as a battering ram to open up lanes in the power running game and clear bodies out of the way in Stanford’s “jumbo packages.” Despite not receiving any carries last season, Marx might be poised to receive the football more often this time around with Stanford searching for a short-yardage specialist. The Cardinal love throwing to the fullback in their west coast passing attack (Spider 2 Y Banana, anyone?) and Marx could have more receptions in his future after making three grabs for 25 yards last season.

Chris Harrell — Harrell returns to The Farm for his fifth and final season after stepping up to fill Marx’s starting fullback role in Stanford’s critical final three games of last season, including the conference championship and the Rose Bowl Game. He may not see as much action on offense with a healthy Marx back in the fold, but he brings a veteran presence and crucial game experience against strong competition to augment the depth in the backfield.

(DAVID ELKINSON/stanfordphoto.com)

Sophomore Cameron Scarlett (left) took a redshirt year last year and will likely take a back seat to McCaffrey and Love, but should factor into the running back discussion. (DAVID ELKINSON/stanfordphoto.com)

Newcomers to watch for

Cameron Scarlett — At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, Scarlett, a sophomore who redshirted last season, has at least 20 pounds on both McCaffrey and Love and could find a role in the Stanford offense as a more traditional power back. Scarlett could also be a candidate for short-yardage touches given his large build. With McCaffrey and Love both returning, Scarlett likely won’t be in line for many carries a game, but he very well could carve out his niche in specialized packages and be a power running nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. As with all Stanford running backs, his ability to see the field will also hinge on his skills as a blocker in pass protection.

Trevor Speights — One of the jewels in a historically good 2016 recruiting haul, Speights will probably redshirt in his first season at Stanford with a crowded backfield of returning contributors. Nevertheless, the freshman has already generated plenty of excitement about his potential, especially after racking up the fourth most rushing yards in the history of Texas high school football and scoring a surreal 50 touchdowns in his senior year. Though Speights might not play a major role in the running game right away, the future of the Stanford backfield looks awfully bright.

(RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Outgoing running back Remound Wright (above) was Stanford’s short-yardage and goal-line specialist, leaving behind a void likely to be filled by either McCaffrey or Scarlett. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Key departures

Remound Wright — Wright’s name has come up a few times already and for good reason — his role for the Cardinal in 2015 was critical to the team’s offensive success. In the latter part of the 2014 season, Wright found his identity as a short-yardage savant and never looked back; his knack for knowing just how to pick up those needed one or two yards in any given situation — jumping over the top, bulldozing his way down the middle or bouncing to the outside — played a significant role in Stanford reigniting its red zone offense. Wright was also one of Stanford’s most capable pass blockers in the backfield and his 15 total touchdowns from last season leave a gaping hole that needs to be filled. Christian McCaffrey, as one of the most talented football players in the country, seems to be one natural candidate to claim those short-yardage snaps, but Cameron Scarlett and fullback Daniel Marx could also emerge as candidates during training camp.  

Barry Sanders — Sanders, who completed a graduate transfer to Oklahoma State during the offseason, never put up eye-popping numbers during his Stanford career but displayed dazzling evasiveness on multiple occasions and made massive strides as a pass protector. While he likely would have seen his snaps again limited with the presence of McCaffrey and Love, Sanders provided Stanford with an envious amount of depth and his absence will prompt the Cardinal’s younger running backs, particularly Scarlett, to step up and fill the No. 3 slot in the backfield.

 

Projected Depth Chart

Running back:

  1. Christian McCaffrey
  2. Bryce Love
  3. Cameron Scarlett
  4. Pat McFadden
  5. Trevor Speights
  6. Dorian Maddox

Fullback:

  1. Daniel Marx
  2. Chris Harrell
  3. Reagan Williams

 

Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/23/football-preview-running-backs-fullbacks/feed/ 0 Bryce Love (20) attempts to thread the needle between two Notre Dame defenders. (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily) Cameron Scarlett (DAVID ELKINSON/stanfordphoto.com) Remound Wright 22 (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)
Football preview: Offense roundtable http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/23/football-preview-offense-roundtable/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=football-preview-offense-roundtable http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/23/football-preview-offense-roundtable/#respond Tue, 23 Aug 2016 09:00:56 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116750 As part of The Daily’s preview coverage of Stanford football’s fast-approaching 2016 campaign, football analysts Vihan Lakshman, Do-Hyoung Park and Michael Peterson sat down to answer questions for the first part of our preview roundtable series, which will focus on the team’s offense. 

This is the second of a 12-part preview of the 2016 football season. Part 1, which focused on the running backs and fullbacks, can be read here.

(RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

The loss of four-year quarterback Kevin Hogan (above) is one of the biggest questions the Cardinal will have to deal with as they begin their 2016 campaign. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Stanford loses a whopping six starters from a 2015 offense that ranked as one of the best in school history and scored 30 points or more in each of its last 13 games. Which player will Stanford miss the most in 2016?

Vihan Lakshman (VL): There are a lot of very good answers to this question, and that speaks to just how special the pieces of the 2015 offense were in revving up the engine to levels not seen since the days of Andrew Luck. With no real incorrect response, I’m going to give the Tunnel Workers Union some love and go with left guard Josh Garnett. The reigning Outland Trophy winner, awarded to the best interior linemen in the nation, was one of the best run blockers in the nation, and Garnett’s ability to open up gaping holes in the running game made Christian McCaffrey even more dangerous. The current San Francisco 49er was also an adept pass protector, and, as a team captain, a very vocal leader in the locker room. The loss of Garnett’s tangible production as the best guard in college football as well as his intangible contributions in pushing that 2015 team to achieve its championship potential will absolutely be missed.

Do-Hyoung Park (DHP): I don’t think I can really go wrong by picking Stanford’s all-time winningest quarterback and the only quarterback in conference history to start three Rose Bowls, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Even putting aside the fact that he won 36 games in three-plus years under center and never finished outside the nation’s top 30 in pass efficiency, Kevin Hogan meant so much more to this team for his evolution from a wide-eyed freshman to another coach on the field by the time his Stanford career wrapped up and his poise and leadership that led to him becoming one of very few two-time captains in Stanford’s recent history. His playbook knowledge was unparalleled, and we’ll probably never know the extent of just how many calls he made in that huddle or how deftly he could adapt the absurdly complicated Stanford offense to meet any changing situation on the field. His complete command of Stanford’s offensive system will be the single biggest blow.

Michael Peterson (MP): Another name not previously mentioned that would be worthy of this honor is All-Pac-12 first team tight end Austin Hooper, who had a phenomenal 2015 season, but I’m going to agree with Do on this one. At times Kevin Hogan almost single-handedly propelled the 2015 Stanford offense with his arm (Notre Dame) and his feet (Washington State), but arguably his most important contribution to the team was his calm leadership, his gutty performances and his heart. He was a two-time captain, an unquestioned leader and a brilliant decision-maker who knew the playbook inside and out. Lost in Christian McCaffrey’s prolific season was also the fact that Hogan set the school record for passing efficiency in a single season. There’s no doubt he will be missed as both as a leader and as a playmaker.

(RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Junior running back Christian McCaffrey (right) had, statistically, the best season in college football history in 2015. Can he even come close to that kind of statistical success again? (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

After a national-record-breaking 3,864 all-purpose yards, school-recording-breaking 2,019 rushing yards and an AP Player of the Year award in 2015, expectations are understandably high for Christian McCaffrey heading into the season. What can the Cardinal expect from McCaffrey after one of the most electrifying seasons in school history?

VL: He’ll be good. Really good. As impressive as McCaffrey’s 2015 was, I’ve been more in awe of how well he has handled the increased attention by remaining laser-focused on his goal of becoming a better player. I doubt heightened outside expectations will faze McCaffrey since his own internal drive probably dwarfs the demands of the average fan. With his workouts under Shannon Turley now the stuff of legend, the WildCaff has continued to bulk up while improving his speed and explosiveness, and all signs point to McCaffrey remaining the centerpiece of the offense. Will he replicate his video game-esque numbers from a season ago? Probably not, as Stanford breaks in a new quarterback and three new starters on the O-line while opposing defenses will come hungrier than ever to slow him down. Nevertheless, I still expect the 2015 Heisman runner-up to contend for the national lead in all-purpose yardage and put together another memorable season.

DHP: The other two guys in this discussion seem to think that there isn’t much of a chance that McCaffrey can replicate his truly incomprehensible numbers from last season, but I’m not sold on that idea. Nobody thought any player could touch Barry Sanders’ all-purpose yards record, and McCaffrey shocked the world last year. I think he’s going to do the unthinkable again and put up similar — if not better — numbers this season.

Remember that he didn’t even fully hit his stride until the fourth game of the season (Oregon State) last year, and by the end of the season, he was running amok against top defenses that were selling out to stop him (cough cough, Iowa). This year, with a new quarterback in town, there’s no question in my mind that McCaffrey is going to have to shoulder an even bigger load than he did last year — at least in the early going — as the only game-proven element this offense has right now. With the toughest stretch of the season presenting itself early on, Stanford will have to lean on its stud back early, often and repeatedly because regardless of how good the quarterback, receivers or (to a lesser extent) offensive line is, David Shaw and company know that all they need to do is get McCaffrey the ball with a little space to work with, and he’ll be outstanding. Bryce Love and Cam Scarlett will definitely get touches, sure, but make no mistake: I expect this to be the Christian McCaffrey 2.0 Show. (They say he’s somehow gotten better over the offseason.)

MP: In 2004 as a true sophomore, Reggie Bush finished the season with 908 rushing yards, 509 receiving yards, 2,330 all-purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns, finishing fifth in Heisman voting. In 2015 as a true sophomore, Christian McCaffrey finished the season with 2,019 rushing yards, 645 receiving yards, 3,864 all-purpose yards and 15 total touchdowns, finishing second in Heisman voting. Bush is remembered as one of the greatest and most electrifying college football players of all-time, and it’s not at all counted against him that the Pac-10 in 2004 and 2005 was mostly garbage — only 3 teams finished with more than seven wins in 2004. McCaffrey to this point in his career has played better than Bush.

It’s ridiculous that McCaffrey didn’t win the Heisman and it’s even more ridiculous that some people still value backs like Dalvin Cook or Royce Freeman more than McCaffrey. Though McCaffrey is a Swiss army knife, an invaluable all-purpose weapon who can beat you in so many ways, I’m also tired of hearing no one acknowledge that he’s also the best running back in college football. We are watching an all-time great college football player, as special as the Reggie Bush’s and Tim Tebow’s of the world. I for one expect McCaffrey to continue to dazzle and establish himself as a great in 2016, even if it’s near impossible to replicate 2015 from a pure numbers perspective.

For the record, following his sophomore campaign, Reggie Bush won the Heisman in 2005. Finally with the attention of the nation, McCaffrey has a chance to do the same.

(DAVID HICKEY/stanfordphoto.com)

Whoever inherits the quarterback job between senior Ryan Burns (above) and junior Keller Chryst will have a stacked array of skill position players to hand and throw the ball to, from McCaffrey and Love to fifth-year senior receiver Michael Rector and junior tight end Dalton Schultz. (DAVID HICKEY/stanfordphoto.com)

Other than McCaffrey, which player’s performance will be most pivotal to the success of the offense?

VL: Stanford brings back a scary amount of talent at the skill positions. In addition to McCaffrey, the Cardinal boast the blazing Bryce Love in the backfield, talented receivers Michael Rector, Trent Irwin and Francis Owusu and a new crop of tight ends headlined by Dalton Schultz and Greg Taboada. However, the heroic recruiting efforts it took to accumulate all of this talent on The Farm will be for naught if the Cardinal fail to get the ball into the hands of these playmakers in the first place, and that responsibility falls on whoever is named the starting quarterback. At this point, the competition between senior Ryan Burns and junior Keller Chryst probably remains too close to call, but the high level of play both quarterbacks displayed during spring ball and during training camp open practices has many optimistic that whoever is handed the keys will have a lot of success behind the wheel. With the Cardinal facing four of its five highest ranked opponents on the road, the ability of the starting quarterback to handle the pressure and maintain control of the offseason will be critical in determining whether this team sinks or swims, especially in the first half of the season.

DHP: The quarterback is the difference between a good Stanford offense and a great Stanford offense, but the offensive line is the difference between a bad Stanford offense and a good Stanford offense. Bottom line, nothing happens on offense for Stanford unless the offensive line is good — and with that in mind, I’m going to go with center Jesse Burkett. Burkett is the only member of this line without significant in-game experience, and as the center, he’ll need to get used to reading opposing defenses and making important calls for the line while under time and game pressure, the importance of which can’t be understated. Fortunately for the Cardinal, Burkett is a smart guy that shouldn’t be daunted by that task at all, especially after a season’s worth of doing whiteboard work on the sideline (as is Stanford backup center tradition). Reports out of camp are that Burkett has been really impressive physically as well — but his adjustment to full-time play (along with left guard Brandon Fanaika) will dictate how well the new-look Tunnel Workers’ Union gels, especially with the importance of the interior linemen in Stanford’s scheme. And we saw in 2014 just how shaky things can get if the O-line play is rough.

MP: Again, I’m going to follow the lead of one of my colleagues and say that the starting quarterback will be the most important player other than McCaffrey. Though Alabama won the national championship without an elite quarterback, a quick look at the other contenders shows you that great quarterback play is usually a prerequisite to being a playoff team, or even a conference-winning team. Clemson had Deshaun Watson, Oklahoma had Baker Mayfield and Michigan State had Connor Cook — only Alabama and its five-star-recruit-at-every-single-position lineup could pull off the feat without such play. For Stanford to continue to remain as both a conference and national contender, either Burns or Chryst must play at a high level, though it doesn’t need to be as high as Watson or Mayfield. Stanford has the tools on offense to succeed, but it’ll be up to the quarterback to make it happen and help the team deliver in close games.

(KAREN AMBROSE HICKEY/stanfordphoto.com)

The new Stanford offensive line will break in three new starters, and the new-look Tunnel Workers Union’s ability to adjust to full-time play will be critical for the continued success and efficiency of Stanford’s vaunted offense. (KAREN AMBROSE HICKEY/stanfordphoto.com)

After losing three starters from last season’s offensive line, what can the Cardinal expect of a largely new Tunnel Workers Union and how crucial will the line’s performance be to the success of the new quarterback and McCaffrey?

VL: It’s hard to gauge just what to expect out of such a retooled offensive line. The last time Stanford underwent such a massive facelift up front, in 2014, we learned that the whole isn’t always equal to the sum of its parts — at least not right away — as Andrus Peat, Josh Garnett, Graham Shuler, Johnny Caspers and Kyle Murphy struggled to gel immediately. However, flash forward one season later and that very same line — minus Peat — became one of the best units in the country.

Along similar lines, I could see the 2016 edition of the Tunnel Workers Union experiencing some growing pains early on, especially with the big, bad USC Trojans defensive line coming to town for the second game of the season. The deafening atmospheres in Husky Stadium and Autzen Stadium probably won’t do this young line any favors either as the 2014 group struggled mightily with penalties, especially early on. Ultimately, though, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren has proven to be one of the best offensive line developers in the game and the initial reviews on Jesse Burkett and Dave Bright have been very positive while Johnny Caspers and Casey Tucker bring valuable starting experience. The fifth spot remains largely up for grabs, but both Brandon Fanaika and AT Hall saw the field in 2015 on either jumbo packages or special teams. It might not be very pretty at the outset, but I expect this unit to be where they want by the home stretch of the season.

DHP: Honestly, I have no idea what to expect from the offensive line. Not having been in on the discussions behind closed doors in 2014 and not knowing the details of offensive line technique, I’m not the best person to evaluate what exactly went wrong with the 2014 line, so I’m not going to try. These new linemen are very different from the new linemen Stanford was breaking in back then, and so I’m not sure if we can draw too many corollaries between the two situations. That said, 2014 did show us just how badly things can go wrong for Stanford if the offensive line is shaky. I honestly think it’s impossible to tell how things will turn out until they actually happen — so we’ll just have to deal with the uncertainty and wait. Usually, I’d say that the running back’s success correlates directly with the offensive line’s success, but in this case, I think McCaffrey is the ultimate safety valve in that his improvisational skills and his maneuverability are unparalleled — even when plays break down or the run blocking isn’t stellar, he’ll make the most of any play.

MP: Like Vihan said, this unit has a lot of similarity to the 2014 offensive line, which broke in four new starters, albeit very talented ones. This time around the Cardinal have a little more experience if maybe a little less talent than 2014. However, as Vihan alluded to, the 2014 unit struggled early on, contributing to the Cardinal’s 8-5 campaign. There is zero margin for error early on in the 2016 season with USC, UCLA, Washington and Notre Dame waiting, to say nothing of upset-minded Washington State and Bill Snyder-led Kansas State. A similar poor early-season performance could spell another 8-5 campaign. While I’m optimistic like Vihan, I’m also more tentative and cautious. The Tunnel Workers Union has always been a key to Stanford’s success and it has to be again in 2016 if Stanford is to contend. The return of fifth-year senior and team captain Johnny Caspers is a huge plus to the unit and a big reason why I ultimately believe the offensive line will do just fine. If there’s one position group that has to do well though, it’s the offensive line.

 

Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’ stanford.edu, Do-Hyoung Park at dhpark ‘at’ stanford.edu and Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/23/football-preview-offense-roundtable/feed/ 0 Kevin Hogan 8 (QB) (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily) So. running back Christian McCaffrey (5) (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily) Ryan Burns and offense (DAVID HICKEY/stanfordphoto.com) Mike Tyler_040916_KAH_093 (KAREN AMBROSE HICKEY/stanfordphoto.com)
Stanford Olympians bring home a record 27 medals http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/22/stanford-olympians-bring-home-a-record-27-medals/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=stanford-olympians-bring-home-a-record-27-medals http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/22/stanford-olympians-bring-home-a-record-27-medals/#respond Mon, 22 Aug 2016 12:00:56 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116735 The 2016 Summer Olympics officially came to a close on Sunday, and with it, 39 past, present and incoming Stanford athletes will return from Rio de Janeiro after having represented 10 countries in the games. Sixteen Stanford athletes earned a school-record 27 medals across 20 Olympic events, ranging from swimming relays to the pole vault.

Women’s swimming:

Stanford’s contingent in women’s swimming dominated the Rio Games. Incoming freshman Katie Ledecky captured national attention as she became the second woman ever to sweep the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle events in the same Olympics. After anchoring the silver-medal earning 400-meter freestyle relay team — which also boasted Stanford teammates junior Simone Manuel and senior Lia Neal — Ledecky’s first individual medal came in her record-breaking 400 free. She followed that up with a victory in the 200 free and then another gold and world record in the 800 free, in which she jumped out to a huge lead and beat the silver medalist by 11 seconds. Ledecky’s quintet of medals, a record for a Stanford affiliate in the Olympics, also included a gold in the 800 free relay.

Ledecky wasn’t the only Cardinal swimmer to make headlines. Participating in her first and only Olympics, Maya DiRado ’14 came away from Rio with four medals, including three individual medals. DiRado’s first gold came from the 800 free relay, but her other gold, in the 200 meter backstroke, came with extra meaning: She earned it in what will likely be the final race of her career, beating the favorite, Katinka Hosszu from Hungary, by six hundredths of a second. Her other two medals came from the 400-meter IM (silver) and 200-meter IM (bronze).

After helping Team USA win the 400 medley relay, Simone Manuel made history when she became the first African American to receive an individual medal in swimming with her first-place finish in the 100-meter free. She capped off her Olympic moment with two silvers in the 50-meter free and the 400 free relay.

Women’s water polo:

Coming off of a gold medal win in the London Olympics, people had high expectations for the U.S. women’s water polo team going into Rio — expectations that the squad met if not surpassed. Across their fives games of competition, the women outscored opponents by a 73-31 margin, including a 12-5 onslaught against Italy in the gold medal match.

Captain Maggie Steffens ‘17 led all scorers in the tournament, totalling 17 goals, and was named MVP for the second Olympics in a row. Kiley Neushul ‘15 added 10 goals, including three in the final, while incoming freshman Makenzie Fischer scored seven and Melissa Seidemann ‘13 notched three. The quartet was responsible for 50 percent of Team USA’s goals during the tournament.

Volleyball:

One of the most celebrated Olympians of our time and the most decorated beach volleyball player ever, Kerri Walsh Jennings ‘00 paired up with April Ross for the Rio Games after the retirement of Walsh Jennings’s former partner, Misty May Treanor. Walsh Jennings, a three-time gold medalist, lost the first Olympic match of her career in the semifinals against Brazil’s second-seeded pair, but she and Ross bounced back to secure a bronze medal. The bronze marked Walsh Jenning’s fourth consecutive Olympic medal.

On the indoor volleyball court, Foluke Akinradewo ‘09 helped lead Team USA to its third consecutive medaling in volleyball, as the team won bronze after finishing 7-1 in the tournament. It was the second Olympics for Akinradewo, a middle blocker, who, after suffering from an injury during the semifinals, returned for the bronze-medal match and contributed 13 kills, 2 blocks and an ace.

Brothers Erik and Kawika Shoji (‘12 and ‘10, respectively) were part of the U.S.’s medal-earning squad that came back from a 0-2 set deficit against Russia to win bronze, only the second time the U.S. men have medaled since 1992. Erik started the entire tournament as the team’s libero.

Fencing:

No American fencer had medaled in Olympics for 32 years prior to Rio. And for foil, it had been even longer (56 years). But Alex Massialas ‘16 made sure to change that. After advancing to the finals with a 15-9 semifinal victory over Great Britain’s Richard Kruse, Massialas fell to Italy’s Daniele Garozzo, 15-11. But his defeat in the finals still earned him a historic silver medal. The success kept on coming for the two-time Olympian; he was also part of the U.S. trio who won bronze in team foil, the first time the U.S. had won a medal in the event in 84 years.

Rowing:

Elle Logan ‘11 rowed in the seven seat on her way towards helping Team USA’s women’s eight win the eight A Final. With the team’s first-place finish, Logan became the first female rower to win three Olympic golds. The U.S. women’s eight has been utterly dominant, in fact unbeatable, over the last 10 years, with Logan being part of the senior team since 2008.

Track and field:

Katerina Stefanidi ‘12 beat out Team USA’s Sandi Morris in the pole vault after clearing 4.85 meters. Her victory made her the first Cardinal woman to win an Olympic track and field event in Stanford history. She was also the only Cardinal to medal for a country other than America, as she represented Greece during the games. She earned Greece’s first medal in track and field since the country hosted the Games in 2004.

Equestrian:

While equestrian is not a varsity sport at Stanford, the school can now say it is home to an Olympic medalist in the sport: Lucy Davis ‘15. Davis and her three teammates earned the U.S. a silver medal in team show jumping, sandwiched by gold-medalist France and bronze-medalist Canada. Davis and her horse, Barron, performed particularly well leading up to the final round, earning zero penalty points.

 

Contact Alexa Philippou at aphil723 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Cardinal ranks No. 8 in preseason AP Top 25 poll http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/21/cardinal-ranks-no-8-in-preseason-ap-top-25-poll/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cardinal-ranks-no-8-in-preseason-ap-top-25-poll http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/21/cardinal-ranks-no-8-in-preseason-ap-top-25-poll/#respond Sun, 21 Aug 2016 19:48:05 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116734 After closing out the 2015-16 season with a No. 3 ranking in the final AP Top 25 poll, the highest in school history, the Stanford Cardinal maintained a top-10 ranking to start the next chapter in the college football saga, coming in at No. 8 in the preseason AP rankings.

The Cardinal, receiving their highest preseason ranking since debuting at No. 4 in the 2013 poll, also checked in as the top rated team in the Pac-12 for the first time in the David Shaw era. Stanford has now earned a spot in the initial AP poll for six consecutive seasons, coinciding with each of Shaw’s years at the helm.

Defending national champion Alabama grabbed the top spot in the poll for the third time this decade while 2015 runner-up Clemson opened at No. 2.

In total, the Pac-12 saw five of its representatives claim a spot in the initial rankings, the second-most among all conferences behind only the SEC’s six teams and one clear of the four teams from both the ACC and Big 10.

After starting last season unranked, the Washington Huskies, the top-rated Pac-12 team after Stanford, debuted at No. 14 while preseason Pac-12 South favorite UCLA checked in at No. 16. USC, in their first full season under new head coach Clay Helton debuted at No. 20. Meanwhile, the Oregon Ducks received their lowest preseason ranking since the 2007 season, coming in at No. 24.

In addition to the five Pac-12 schools receiving a ranking–three from the North division and two from the South–Utah and Washington State also received votes.

Stanford will face five teams ranked in the AP preseason poll this season, with four of those matchups coming in a grueling five-week stretch beginning with a September 17 showdown at The Farm against USC, followed by road trips to Washington and UCLA, and culminating with a trek to South Bend, Indiana, to face No. 10 Notre Dame on October 15.

The preseason speculation will give way to tangible results in less than two weeks as the Cardinal kick off their 2016 season at home against Kansas State on September 2 at 6 p.m. in a Friday night game that will be televised on Fox Sports 1.

 

Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Football preview podcast: Most pressing questions http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/18/football-preview-podcast-most-pressing-questions/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=football-preview-podcast-most-pressing-questions http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/18/football-preview-podcast-most-pressing-questions/#respond Fri, 19 Aug 2016 06:22:20 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116713 With two weeks to go until Stanford football officially kicks off its 2016-17 campaign with its Sept. 2 opener against Kansas State, the KZSU/Daily football crew got back together after a long offseason and talked about the biggest questions that this Stanford team needs to answer in order to be successful this season.

Does it even matter who plays quarterback for the Cardinal? Can Christian McCaffrey emulate his legendary 2015 campaign? Are the offensive and defensive lines in good shape?

Join KZSU play-by-play announcer Nicky Sullivan, color commentator Michael Peterson and Daily football analysts Vihan Lakshman and Do-Hyoung Park for all that and more in the first episode of our season’s podcast series.

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Former Stanford football player files lawsuit against University, NCAA, Pac-12 http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/11/former-stanford-football-player-files-lawsuit-against-university-ncaa-and-pac-12/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=former-stanford-football-player-files-lawsuit-against-university-ncaa-and-pac-12 http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/11/former-stanford-football-player-files-lawsuit-against-university-ncaa-and-pac-12/#respond Thu, 11 Aug 2016 08:00:38 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116664 Former Stanford football player David Burns ʼ76 has filed a class action lawsuit seeking damages for the alleged disregard of the health and safety of former Stanford football players.

The suit names the University, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12) as defendants and covers Stanford football players active between 1959 and 2010. Stewart Pollock of the law firm Edelson Professional Corporation will be lead-counsel for the suit, which joins 12 others filed by former college football players since mid-May. The suits allege that private universities, the NCAA and regional athletic conferences knew or should have known of the danger concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) pose, but neglected to either inform student-athletes or adopt adequate concussion management protocols.

According to the lawsuit implicating Stanford, some concussed players, such as Burns, were prematurely returned to games or practices and now suffer from chronic injuries ranging from impulse control to early onset Parkinson’s disease.

Burns, who was not available to comment, seeks redress for these injuries, which he alleges Stanford knowingly failed to prevent.

“We talked to a client recently who recalled playing in games where his ears were bleeding,” said Chris Dore, a partner at Edelson. “[Student-athletes] are looking at these [athletic and educational] institutions to protect them.”

In a statement to CBS San Francisco, Stanford spokeswoman Lisa Lapin maintained that the University prioritizes protecting student-athletes.

“Stanford was surprised to see this lawsuit purporting to be a class action on behalf of football players from 1959 to 2010 as Stanford had not previously heard anything from the plaintiff or his counsel about the allegations being made,” the statement read. “Stanford has always acted in the best interests of its student athletes.”

The complaint has been assigned to Judge Kandis Westmore of the U.S. District Court of Northern California, San Francisco Division.

Protecting Students

Edelson’s string of lawsuits followed another settlement between the NCAA and a class of former football players led by Adrian Arrington, wide receiver for the University of Michigan from 2004-07.  The settlement provided for medical monitoring such as doctor’s appointments but not monetary compensation for an injured player, and it stipulated that future class actions against the NCAA, such as Burns’ complaint, must proceed on a college-by-college basis.

“The [NCAA settlement] didn’t account for anything that would occur if the test showed that there was something wrong with you,” Dore said. “You’d have players who were already experiencing injury, and the doctor’s appointment would be useless to them because they had already been to the doctor a thousand times.”

Dore stressed that the neurological injuries Edelson’s clients face have ruined their abilities to hold jobs and maintain social relationships. The former students represented in Burns’ suit, he explained, did not know the long-term dangers of repeated head injuries. College students and their parents now have access to information that was not in the public eye as recently as 10 years ago, according to Dore.

“When people look at these players in a lot of these suits, they are seeing them as men, middle-aged men,” Dore said. “People forget that they were 18 to 22-year-olds who were more or less under the guardianship of these schools and of these programs.”

While football players implicitly agree to take on some risk by participating in games, Osborne argued in one of the earliest law articles on sports-related head injuries that trainers and team physicians have a duty to protect athletes.

“Tremendous pressure may be placed on the athletic trainer to return the athlete to play as soon as possible by the coaching staff, administrators, other team members, alumnae and fans, and the athlete,” the article stated. “The athletic trainer cannot be influenced by the team’s need for the player or even by the athlete’s desire to play.”

According to Burns’ complaint, the NCAA, Pac-12 and Stanford “knew for decades of the harmful effects of TBI on student-athletes, [but] ignored these facts and failed to institute any meaningful method of warning or protecting the student-athletes.”

The NCAA first mandated concussion protocols in 2010. Due to Burns’ pending litigation, Stanford has not disclosed when the Cardinal first adopted a concussion protocol. However, former head coach Jim Harbaugh’s comments to The New York Times indicate Stanford has had a concussion protocol since at least 2007.

Law experts weigh in

Experts unaffiliated with either Burns’ or the defendants’ legal teams said the lawsuit may have a difficult time proving that Stanford and others were negligent.

“Even though [Stanford] has a duty to protect [students], anyone who plays any kind of sport knows that they could get hurt,” said Barbara Osborne, professor of sports medicine and law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). “Failing to adopt a safety standard is not the same thing as active concealment [of information].”

In Osborne’s opinion, the NCAA and athletic conferences do not have a duty to protect students, but rather a duty to not increase risks to the health and safety of student-athletes. Osborne believes that the actions and regulations of the NCAA and the Pac-12 should be evaluated under the norms for football during the time period covered in the suit, not current standards.

Though the suit alleges that “study after study published in medical journals” warned of the dangers of concussions, Osborne noted that there was no strong consensus in the sports medicine community when Burns played for the Cardinal. Medical experts disagreed on the dangers of concussions and other TBIs in football until relatively recently.

“If the standard is to be reasonably prudent, it looks like committees [within the NCAA] had been doing what they were expected to do, and did create policy when there was consensus,” Osborne said.

Though research on head injuries dated back to the 1920s, consensus on concussions specifically within football were not reached until Kevin Guskiewicz, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC and member of the NCAA’s Concussion Safety Protocol Committee,  conducted a series of large-scale epidemiological studies identifying the effects of multiple concussions in the late 1990s. Guskiewicz’s research, which earned him a MacArthur fellowship, helped shift the field of sports medicine away from reliance on athletes’ self-reporting symptoms and towards more objective measures of athletes’ health.

“Coaches and trainers can’t make decisions on someone else’s safety if they are not getting honest information from the person,” Osborne said.

Burns’ recent complaint does not specify whether subjective self-reporting of symptoms was the norm when Burns played football from 1972-74.

According to a survey that then-student Richard Eagleston ʼ71 MA ʼ76 distributed to football players at Stanford and Santa Clara University in the 1975 season, however, players reported only slightly over half of the injuries they sustained, but were most likely to report head injuries. Most of the players surveyed reported receiving encouragement from their coaches or trainers to report injuries.

If evidence at trial demonstrates that Stanford football acted within the accepted coaching standards at the time, Osborne explained, there would be no breach of duty to players on Stanford’s part.

But Dore disagreed. He clarified that, per the conditions of NCAA’s settlement with Arrington, the firm must sue individual colleges even though the negligent behavior alleged in the complaint was typical of most college football programs from 1959-2010.

Burns’ case is “a matter of [the defendant’s] knowledge and their ability to control these players, to control the policies and limit the harm of [head injuries],” Dore said.

Deborah Hensler, Judge John W. Ford Professor of Dispute Resolution at the Stanford Law School, who specializes in class action litigation and procedure, suspects that the plaintiff’s definition of the class may cover too many people, but has withheld definitive judgement on the issue until more facts pertaining to the case are discovered.

“A court, at least at first blush, would think of it as being a very large amorphous class and judges are frequently uncomfortable allowing such class actions,” Hensler said.

A recent settlement with the NFL, Hensler noted, featured a narrower class of retired football players suffering from certain neurological diseases, while Burns’ suit limits the class solely by time period.

However, Hensler agreed with Dore that Stanford could be held responsible even if its practices were similar to peer institutions’.

“If there is some period where the plaintiffs show that Stanford and the other defendants knew and should have been doing other things and weren’t telling the players, then the plaintiffs would still have a strong case in that regard,” she said.

 

Contact Miguel Samano at msamano ‘at’ stanford.edu.

 

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Nine Stanford swimmers, divers to compete in Rio Olympics http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/01/nine-stanford-swimmers-divers-to-compete-in-rio-olympics/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nine-stanford-swimmers-divers-to-compete-in-rio-olympics http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/01/nine-stanford-swimmers-divers-to-compete-in-rio-olympics/#respond Mon, 01 Aug 2016 18:30:34 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116443 Past, present and future Cardinal swimmers and divers claimed nine total spots to represent Team USA in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics based on their performance at the Swimming and Diving Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska and Indianapolis from June 18 through July 3.

From June 18 to June 26, divers competed in Indianapolis for a spot on Team USA. Following the Diving Trials through July 3, swimmers arrived in Omaha to earn a spot to swim at Rio. The top two spots in every event qualify for the Olympics, and the top four spots in select swimming events will be members of the relay team.

On day one of the meet, Stanford alum Maya DiRado ’14 earned a spot to Rio in the 400-meter IM. DiRado won the 400 IM event by over three seconds. She also won the 200-meter IM, leading the race from start to finish. She won the 200-meter backstroke as well in front of Missy Franklin, qualifying her for three events total at Rio.

Although it has been a tough few years leading up to the Trials for DiRado, her consistency allowed her to confidently swim at Trials.

“There were times those [tough] days where I was like, ‘I am not doing anything close to what I need to be doing to make the team or be at the times I need to hit, but you just have to go through those crappy days and learn something from it, and get better next week,’” DiRado said.

DiRado’s performances were surprising not only to the spectators, but also to herself.

“Yes, I surprised myself,” DiRado said. “You want to put yourself in the position where you will take advantage of those opportunities and so going into the race staying calm, staying focused, just trying to put together a good race. That [200-meter backstroke] was a really fun one, and a cool reflection of how great this year has been that I was able to do that.”

Kristian Ipsen ’15, another Stanford alum, won the men’s individual 3-meter springboard in Indianapolis, earning a spot to Rio. Ipsen also competed with synchro partner Troy Dumais in the 3-meter synchro event, but fell one spot short of qualifying. Previously, Ipsen won a bronze medal in the 3-meter synchronized dive in the London 2012 Olympics.

Ipsen recounted his experience and training since London, which has been filled with more intensive training that was more tailored for individual diving, rather than synchronized diving.

“Coming back from the [London] Olympics, I felt pretty burnt out,” Ipsen said. “In 2014, I took six months off. I started getting back into the swing of things in 2015, so it really has been this short amount of time that I’ve tried to build up to it. I’ve been really really intense with my training from 2015 on, and I feel like it’s really paid off.”

Ipsen’s dominance in the 3-meter event is reflected from his training. His reverse three-and-a-half dive secured his spot for Rio this year. In 2012, it was that exact dive that caused him to miss the Olympics. He attributes his consistency in this dive specifically, but also overall consistency in all 18 rounds at Trials, to more intensive training after 2012.

Current Cardinal diver Kassidy Cook qualified for the women’s 3-meter event. Her final score of 1,003.65 was 54.35 points ahead of second place. This will be Cook’s first Olympic games.

Cardinal swimmer Simone Manuel placed second in the 100-meter freestyle, which earned her an individual race in Rio as well as a spot on the 4×100-meter freestyle relay.

Manuel, also a first time Olympian, described the excitement immediately following her victory.

“I didn’t process it quickly at all; it took about five minutes for it to settle in [after the race],” Manuel said. “Definitely when I saw that I had made the individual 100 free, I went down and saw Lia got fourth and would be in a relay with me; I just was super excited and shocked.”

Teammate Lia Neal ’17 placed fourth in the 100-meter freestyle. She will be heading to Rio for the 4×100-meter relay alongside Manuel.

Manuel and Neal made Olympic history as the first two African-American women to compete simultaneously on Team USA.

“Yes, it’s just cool to see the progress that black people have made in swimming,” Neal said. “Now in 2016, Simone and I are the first two African-American girls on the same Olympic team together, so it’s just cool to see the beginnings of what will hopefully be a trend.”

Incoming freshman Katie Ledecky ’20 also dominated her events. 19-year-old Ledecky qualified for her second Olympic games in the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle. Ledecky won by eight seconds in the 400-meter freestyle, two seconds in the 200-meter freestyle and 10 seconds in the 800-meter freestyle.

Ledecky has been known as the “freestyle queen” and can swim a versatile range of distances. She will be swimming at Stanford in the upcoming year after deferring her enrollment for one year to train for the Olympic Trials.

Former Cardinal Geoffrey Cheah ’13 will represent Hong Kong in the 50-meter freestyle in Rio. He achieved the B-cut time, but since there were no swimmers that swam in the A-cut time, he is eligible for the Games.

David Nolan ’15 came in third place in the 200IM, just one place shy of qualifying. Abrahm DeVine ’19 dropped two seconds in his 200 IM, a 1.7 percent drop in time, and qualified for 200 IM finals with Nolan. Andrew Liang ’18 dropped one of the biggest times at Trials, cutting down more than one second in his preliminary time in the 100-meter fly, which is a 2.4 percent drop.

Ipsen concluded with the fact that he is representing Team USA again, as well as Stanford.

“Well, I’ll always represent Stanford for sure. It’s a combination, but I’m so excited,” he said. “Last time, when I got out there, when the Olympic rings were behind me and I was wearing the USA suit, I just never felt more patriotic, so I can’t wait to have that feeling again.”

Stanford will be represented by these nine athletes at the Rio 2016 Olympics, which will run from August 5 to 21.

 

Contact Angie Wang at 19awang ‘at’ castilleja ‘dot’ org.

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Former Stanford football coach Dennis Green passes away at 67 http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/01/former-stanford-football-coach-dennis-green-passes-away-at-67/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=former-stanford-football-coach-dennis-green-passes-away-at-67 http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/08/01/former-stanford-football-coach-dennis-green-passes-away-at-67/#respond Mon, 01 Aug 2016 17:25:37 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116599 Former Stanford football coach Dennis Green passed away at 67 on Thursday, July 21 of a heart attack, his family said in a statement.

An outpouring of support has come out from the football community for the family of the beloved coach.

“I am deeply sorry to hear of the passing of my Stanford football coach & NFL coach Denny Green,” current U.S. Senator Cory Booker, one of Green’s former players, tweetedFriday. “My condolences are with all his loved ones.

His family issued a statement saying that he “fought hard” until the end. In Green’s memory, the family requests donations be made to the Boys and Girls Club of San Diego.

By all regards a selfless man, Green broke barriers as a coach.

No African-American had been the head coach of a Big Ten football team until Green took over at Northwestern in 1981. When he signed on to Stanford’s head coaching job in 1989, he also became the first black head coach in Pac-10 history.

He was handed a program that had just one winning season in its last eight years. By the end of his final season, 1991, Stanford was back to bowling, capping an 8-3 season with an appearance in the Aloha Bowl. Current Stanford head coach David Shaw, who played under Green as a receiver, believes Green started to create the brand of “intellectual brutality” that the program is known for today.

“At Stanford, Coach Green created an environment of toughness, confidence and competitiveness that I was blessed to be a part of as a student-athlete,” Shaw told The Mercury News. “Though our staff, Coach Willingham’s and Coach [Jim] Harbaugh’s, have all had success, Coach Green was the first to win at Stanford with the combination of a physical running game, a West Coast passing attack and an aggressive defense.”

NFL teams took note as the Minnesota Vikings signed Green to his first NFL head coaching job in 1992. He had previously coached in the NFL, earning stints on 49ers’ coach Bill Walsh’s coaching staff in the ’70s and ’80s, but was called back to the college game.

He stuck with the Vikings, staying at the helm from 1992 to 2001. He had just one losing season in those years, combining to go 97-62. After trying his hand as a television analyst, he came back to coach the Arizona Cardinals from 2004 to 2006 before Ken Wisenhunt took over.

“Coach Green will rightly be remembered as a true innovator, leader and pioneer among football coaches,” Cardinals president Michael Bigwill said. “We express our deepest sympathy to his family and his many friends.”

Green leaves behind his wife Marie and four children: Patti, Jeremy, Zachary and Vanessa.

 

Contact Ben Leonard at bentleonard18 ‘at’ gmail.com.

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Former Stanford standout Rosco Allen ’16 sets sights on professional basketball career http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/07/27/rosco-allen-professional-career/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rosco-allen-professional-career http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/07/27/rosco-allen-professional-career/#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 00:43:17 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116529 Former Stanford forward Rosco Allen led the Cardinal in scoring this past season at 15.6 points per game before declaring for the NBA draft in April. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Former Stanford forward Rosco Allen led the Cardinal in scoring this past season at 15.6 points per game before declaring for the NBA draft in April. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Ranging from the castles of Budapest to the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas to Maples Pavilion, Rosco Allen’s journey to the NBA Summer League has been anything but ordinary. Now, he’s blazed his own trail back to Vegas, where he has a chance to crack the Golden State Warriors’ roster and make Oakland the next stop on his basketball odyssey.

After leading the Cardinal in scoring last season, the former Stanford standout unexpectedly opted to forgo his final year of eligibility to try his hand at the pro game. Although he became the team’s leader during his academic senior season, 2015-16 marked the only season in which he was a full-time starter.

With his degree in hand, Allen ‘16 was faced with a difficult choice: leave the relationships he had forged on campus behind to start his pro career, or return to the Farm for one final shot on the basketball court.

New Stanford head coach Jerod Haase was supportive of Allen throughout his decision-making process, but Allen felt it was the right time to say goodbye to Stanford.

“[Leaving] was tough… I’ve made some really good relationships on and off the court and it was tough leaving them, but I just felt like it was the best decision for me. I had received my degree already and I feel like it was time to start the next chapter of my life.”

Allen attended the 2016 NBA Draft in June. When no teams called his name on draft day, Allen ultimately inked a deal with Golden State to start his professional career and pursue his passion.

“It means everything [to me]. I love this game, and I want to keep playing for as long as I can. It’s just another opportunity for me and I’m trying to make the most of it.”

Allen wasn’t expecting to be drafted, but still wished in the back of his mind that a team would select him. A few unspecified teams had contacted Allen before the draft to offer him spots in the Summer League, but the Warriors had always been the front-runners for Allen’s services. They had sent representatives to many of his games, so Allen always thought Golden State had the “best feel for him” throughout the process.

“I’ve put a lot of hours into the game, and to have this opportunity to play even on a Summer League team, and especially for the Warriors, since I played at Stanford so close, [they were] the team I knew the best, so it was a great experience for me,” Allen said. “It’s a blessing.”

After just one practice, Allen had already noticed how much faster and bigger the players were. Even so, he embraces the challenge as an opportunity to improve his basketball skills.

“It was a great learning experience for me, and I’m looking forward to the next few days to keep getting better and go into Vegas and try and win as many games as possible,” Allen said.

With his future uncertain after Summer League, Allen knows one thing for sure: His family will be there, cheering him on. His parents, grandmother, aunt, uncle and four siblings all still live in Las Vegas, and will attend all of his games this summer.

Allen is excited about their presence because they weren’t always able to make the trek to Palo Alto during his college days.

The family moved from the old city of Budapest to settle in the Nevada desert when Allen was 12. Eventually, he settled at Bishop Gorman High School, a national athletic powerhouse.

His introduction to American culture? The neon lights, strip clubs and fake European landmarks of Sin City.

“The American culture was much different than the Hungarian one,” he said.

In Allen’s hometown of Budapest, the largest city in Hungary, there are real castles and ancient buildings, some over 500 years old. Surprisingly, the modernity was more of a shock than anything to Allen. The scorching Nevada desert heat was also new. Allen wasn’t used to any of it.

However, Allen quickly became grounded in Vegas. There, he carried the Gaels to win three state championships.

Allen’s bilingual roots helped ease his transition into American life. He grew up speaking both English and Hungarian. Allen’s father, Daniel, doesn’t speak Hungarian, so Allen quickly became fluent in both, using English around the house and Hungarian with friends. Math came more easily because of his English knowledge, but there was still an adjustment period.

While he settled in and racked up All-State accolades playing high school ball in Las Vegas, Allen ran into Kevin Durant, the Warriors’ newest star, several times. During his first two years of high school, he saw Durant work out with fellow Thunder All-Star Russell Westbrook, and attended Durant’s camp during his junior year. Later, he worked out with Durant when he came to practice for Team USA.

Allen naturally models himself after Durant, given that they play the same position and have a similar body type. Being the Stanford graduate that he is, he’s trying to be like the greatest in his field.

“He’s extremely talented, so I try to take as many of his skills and try and implement them into my game as possible,” Allen said. “He’s just a tremendous talent, and it’s great to have him on the Warriors.”

Now, he hopes to play behind Durant and two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry on perhaps the most talented team in basketball, an opportunity he would relish should he earn the chance.

“[It would be cool] just to be on the same court as them, being able to learn from them, and being able to try and compete with them,” Allen said. “Obviously, I know that’s kind of one-sided, but just trying to be my best and trying to learn as much as I can from those guys would be an amazing experience.”

At a glance, Allen’s skill set meshes well with the Warriors’ offensive philosophy: space the floor and make a whole lot of 3-pointers. So far, Allen is confident that that should help make his transition to the NBA a little bit smoother.

“Whenever you can space the floor, it translates to every level. Just being able to make space for guys that can really drive and really make plays, but just having the defender being pulled out the perimeter obviously is going to help with that.” Allen said. “I feel like that’s going to be the quickest transition for me — always being a threat and drawing the defender out and trying to allow guys to make plays.”

If Allen doesn’t end up making the Warriors’ roster, he wouldn’t rule out playing overseas.

“I’m just really trying to take this one step at a time,” Allen said. “I’m trying to do my best in Vegas to try and raise my stock and impress some guys. That’s all I’m really focused on right now. Obviously, my agent has been making phone calls and things like that but I’m really not trying to focus on that.”

Allen has traveled a long way for this moment. He’s not going to let it pass by knowing he didn’t give it his all. Now, he’s hoping that what happened in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas.

 

Contact Ben Leonard at bentleonard18 ‘at’ gmail.com.

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http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/07/27/rosco-allen-professional-career/feed/ 0 Rosco Allen #25. Photo by Rahim Ullah Former Stanford forward Rosco Allen led the Cardinal in scoring this past season at 15.6 points per game before declaring for the NBA draft in April. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)
Photos: Cardinal at The Bank of The West Classic 2016 http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/07/22/photos-cardinal-at-the-bank-of-the-west-classic-2016/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=photos-cardinal-at-the-bank-of-the-west-classic-2016 http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/07/22/photos-cardinal-at-the-bank-of-the-west-classic-2016/#respond Fri, 22 Jul 2016 22:25:04 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116485 Photos by Mike Kheir and Rahim Ullah

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Cardinal well-represented at 2016 Bank of the West Classic http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/07/18/cardinal-well-represented-at-2016-bank-of-the-west-classic/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cardinal-well-represented-at-2016-bank-of-the-west-classic http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/07/18/cardinal-well-represented-at-2016-bank-of-the-west-classic/#respond Mon, 18 Jul 2016 22:25:11 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116426 Stanford women’s tennis will see its fair share of action during the following week in the 2016 Bank of the West Classic at Taube Family Tennis Stadium, headlined by newly turned professional athlete Carol Zhao facing off against Stanford alum and current world No. 71 Nicole Gibbs in the first round.

The main draw tournament runs from July 18-24, with the battle of the Stanford athletes getting underway on Monday at 7 p.m. Zhao, ranked No. 346 in the world, earned a wildcard into the main draw, while Gibbs was one of the 20 professional players selected for the tournament field based on ranking. The winner of their match will advance to face the 4th-seeded Coco VandeWeghe, ranked No. 35 in the world, on Thursday at 7 p.m.

However, the Stanford duo will not be separated for long as they also compete in the doubles draw, this time as a team. Zhao and Gibbs will face off against Arina Rodionova from Australia and Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

Zhao has played in this tournament for the past two years, falling in the first round last year to world No. 57 Mona Barthel. Gibbs reached the second round of last year’s tournament before losing to world No. 20 Elina Svitolina.

Zhao decided last month to forgo her senior year at Stanford in order to pursue her professional career. Playing at the team’s No. 1 spot for the past two years, Zhao has seen incredible success in a Cardinal uniform. The 2015 NCAA Singles runner-up accumulated a career 76-16 record and was a three-time all-conference pick. Zhao was instrumental in Stanford’s 2016 NCAA championship run despite missing much of the season competing in tournaments and training with the Canadian national Fed Cup team. After the Cardinal started their season 6-3, Zhao’s return to the lineup prompted Stanford to win 16 of its last 19 matches, with the team ultimately capturing its 19th national championship.

Gibbs, who has been competing professionally since leaving Stanford after her junior season, finished her successful college career with 111-15 overall record. An All-American in singles during each of her three seasons at Stanford, she was a two-time NCAA champion (2012, 2013) and a two-time NCAA singles champion as well.

Both Zhao and Gibbs remained busy in the weeks prior to the tournament. Zhao recently competed at the $25K Winnipeg National Bank Challenger in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Coming off a loss in the Round of 128 at Wimbledon, Gibbs played in the Stockton Challenger, a $50K USTA Pro Circuit tournament held at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.

The Stanford ties continued as returning sophomores Melissa Lord and Caroline Lampl received wildcards into the tournament’s qualifying draw. On Saturday, Lord dropped a 6-2, 6-3 decision to Olga Govortsova. Lampl also fell in the first round to Asia Muhammad, 6-1, 6-0.

Playing a prominent role down the stretch this season, Lord won 10 of her last 11 matches, posting a 25-12 overall record, including 16-7 in dual matches. Lampl also enjoyed a tremendous rookie season as she led the Cardinal in overall victories (30-5), including 13 of her 14 matches at the No. 5 spot in the lineup.

Local top-ranked junior Catherine ‘Cici’ Bellis has also accepted a wildcard into the main draw of the tournament. After winning the USTA Girls 18’s National Championships, the 17-year-old from Atherton rose to national fame in 2014 after knocking off world No. 13 Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of the US Open at the age of just 15. 

The playing field also includes some of the top names in women’s tennis, including world No. 7 Venus Williams and No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova. Americans Coco VandeWeghe and Varvara Lepchenko are seeded in the tournament as well.

The Bank of the West Classic is the longest-running women-only professional tennis tournament in the world and is the first stop of the Emirates Airlines US Open Series. Tickets and more information can be found at www.bankofthewestclassic.com.

 

Contact Benjamin Chen at thebenchen10 ‘at’ gmail.com.

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Stanford men win first Capital One Men’s Cup, women runners-up http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/07/15/stanford-men-win-first-capital-one-mens-cup-women-runners-up/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=stanford-men-win-first-capital-one-mens-cup-women-runners-up http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/07/15/stanford-men-win-first-capital-one-mens-cup-women-runners-up/#respond Fri, 15 Jul 2016 16:59:39 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116407 Stanford Men’s Athletics captured its first Capital One Cup as the nation’s most successful athletics program during the 2015-16 campaign.  The Cardinal women finished second after winning the Cup for three straight years.

The Capital One Cup is awarded annually to the best men’s and women’s NCAA Division I athletics programs for their cumulative on-field performance across all collegiate sports. Teams earn points for their schools based on their top-10 finishes in NCAA championships and final official coaches’ polls across 21 women’s and 20 men’s sports.

Stanford and USC, the winner on the women’s side, will receive a combined $400,000 in student-athlete scholarships and will both be recognized at the 2016 ESPYS on July 13.

The Stanford men totaled 126 points, edging runner-up North Carolina (108). The Cardinal women scored 86 points, losing out to USC (94).

Stanford got off to a strong start in the 2015-16 academic year by winning the NCAA title in men’s soccer, and secured top-10 finishes from football (ranked No. 3 in final USA Today Coaches’ Poll) and men’s water polo (ranked No. 5 in final CWPA poll).

In the spring, Stanford received boosts from men’s track and field (eighth at NCAA Championships, sixth at MPSF Championships), men’s gymnastics (NCAA runner-up) and men’s volleyball (ranked No. 6 in final AVCA poll).

The Cardinal women earned a national championship in tennis as well as top-10 finishes in soccer, gymnastics, swimming and diving, golf, lacrosse, outdoor track and field, rowing and water polo.

Prior to this year, Stanford’s best performance in the Men’s Cup was a fifth-place finish in the 2010-11 inaugural trophy presentation.

 

Contact Matthew Oh at mattoh ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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Dwight Powell ’14 signs four-year extension with Dallas Mavericks http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/07/10/dwight-powell-14-signs-four-year-extension-with-dallas-mavericks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dwight-powell-14-signs-four-year-extension-with-dallas-mavericks http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/07/10/dwight-powell-14-signs-four-year-extension-with-dallas-mavericks/#respond Sun, 10 Jul 2016 23:42:39 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116319 Former Stanford basketball standout Dwight Powell ’14 signed a four-year deal worth $37 million on Sunday to return to the Dallas Mavericks, according to several reports. The power forward, previously a restricted free agent, will return to a Mavericks team that has been active in the offseason, re-signing Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams and acquiring Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut from the Golden State Warriors.

Powell played four years at Stanford, averaging 14.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in his senior year.  The five-star high school recruit received first-team All-Pac-12 honors twice in his career. Powell earned his degree in science, technology and society and was named the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year in his senior year.

Powell was also part of the 2013-14 Stanford team that advanced to the Sweet Sixteen after upsetting the Kansas Jayhawks. The Toronto native ranks in the top 15 at Stanford in career points, rebounds, blocks and steals.

After being selected with the 45th pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Powell signed a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers that summer but was later traded to the Boston Celtics. After seeing little playing time during his first season in Boston, Powell was traded to the Mavericks as a part of the blockbuster trade that moved Rajon Rondo from the Celtics to the Mavericks. Last season, he averaged 5.8 points and 4.0 rebounds — both career highs — in just over 14 minutes for the Mavs.

At 6-foot-11, 240 pounds, Powell has shown promise as a spirited rebounder and an athletic finisher off of the pick-and-roll.  While possessing a versatile skill set, he must improve his defense and develop an outside jump shot to become a more all-around player. The Mavericks have locked Powell up as a part of their future plans as Dallas prepares for the impending retirement of its franchise player and power forward Dirk Nowitzki.

 

Contact Matthew Oh at mattoh ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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Indianapolis Colts sign Andrew Luck ’12 to largest contract in NFL history http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/07/04/indianapolis-colts-sign-andrew-luck-12-to-largest-contract-in-nfl-history/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=indianapolis-colts-sign-andrew-luck-12-to-largest-contract-in-nfl-history http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/07/04/indianapolis-colts-sign-andrew-luck-12-to-largest-contract-in-nfl-history/#respond Mon, 04 Jul 2016 18:56:53 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116278 On Wednesday, former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck ’12 signed a contract extension with the Indianapolis Colts that will make him the highest-paid player in the NFL, based on guaranteed salary.

The massive contract, announced by owner Jim Irsay via Twitter, will give Luck $140 million over six years with $87 million in guaranteed money, per ESPN. Barring an unlikely trade, Luck will remain with the Colts through the 2021 season. Luck’s $87 million in guaranteed money surpassed the previous two largest guaranteed salary contracts, which belonged to Eli Manning and Philip Rivers.

Luck had a legendary career at Stanford and was the one of the catalysts of Stanford football’s recent run of success. Alongside head coach Jim Harbaugh, the Texan native helped lead Stanford to its first winning season in eight years in 2009. The team would would lose only three times in the next two years, as he lead the Cardinal to consecutive BCS bowl appearances and year-end top 10 rankings. A two-time Heisman runner up, Luck left the Farm in the top 5 in passing completions, yards and touchdowns in school history, etching his name alongside the likes of John Elway and Jim Plunkett among Stanford quarterbacking greats.

Luck was drafted first overall by the Colts in 2012, and was immediately tasked with replacing Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. Luck made the transition a smooth one, leading the Colts to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons, culminating in an appearance in the 2014 AFC Championship Game. He struggled in 2015 however, missing a total of nine games due to injury and turning the ball over 13 times in just seven games. Fully healthy and with an offensive line bolstered by highly touted rookies, Luck will look to make this upcoming season his most successful one yet.

 

Contact Matthew Oh at mjoh99 ‘at’ gmail.com

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Chasson Randle joins New York Knicks in return to NBA Summer League action http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/07/03/chasson-randle-joins-new-york-knicks-in-return-to-nba-summer-league-action/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=chasson-randle-joins-new-york-knicks-in-return-to-nba-summer-league-action http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/07/03/chasson-randle-joins-new-york-knicks-in-return-to-nba-summer-league-action/#respond Sun, 03 Jul 2016 23:41:01 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116271 The last time Chasson Randle ’15 stepped on the court at Madison Square Garden, he walked off a two-time NIT champion. Now, after signing a deal with the New York Knicks’ Summer League team, Randle hopes to have a chance to play on that floor again, this time clad in a white Knicks home uniform.

After a stint in the Czech Republic with ČEZ Basketball Nymburk, the former Stanford point guard will join New York’s summer squad in Orlando in a bid to make the cut for the team’s NBA roster. The 2016 Orlando Pro Summer League will run from Saturday, July 2 through Friday, July 8.

Randle set many high-water marks during his time on The Farm, forcing bookkeepers to pencil his name in at the top of Stanford’s all-time scoring, minutes, and three-point shooting charts. In his senior season, the four-year starter broke onto the national stage, leading the team in scoring and earning numerous accolades, including Associated Press All-American Honorable Mention.

Like many Stanford athletes, Randle also broke ground in his studies. He was named to the Capital One Academic All America First Team and Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2015.

This won’t be Randle’s first shot at cracking an NBA roster. Last summer, the undrafted free agent signed on with the Golden State Warriors’ Summer League team, but his efforts just weren’t enough to make the squad.

“As a rookie last year, it was all new to me and everything was happening so fast,” Randle told QCOnline. “I had to learn how to approach the game. I’ll go in there a little more prepared. This is a somewhat different feeling and I know the best I can do is go to Orlando and play to the best of my abilities. If I do that, I can sleep well at night.”

Randle gained some valuable experience this season on a championship winning team in the Czech Republic. During the team’s title run, Randle was second on the team in scoring at 12.0 points per game. The 23-year-old will lean on this experience and his ability to put the ball in the net in his pursuit of an NBA roster spot.

Randle did not play in either of the Knicks’ games this weekend. New York returns to the court on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

 

Contact Ben Leonard at bentleonard18 ‘at’ gmail.com.

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Strong side: Mission, faith help shape Dallas Lloyd into team leader http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/09/strong-side-mission-faith-help-shape-dallas-lloyd-into-team-leader/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=strong-side-mission-faith-help-shape-dallas-lloyd-into-team-leader http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/06/09/strong-side-mission-faith-help-shape-dallas-lloyd-into-team-leader/#respond Fri, 10 Jun 2016 06:04:39 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1116075 If you take a drive down the 800 block of El Camino Real, it’s impossible to miss the massive billboard at the road’s intersection with Galvez Street. On the billboard these days are close-up shots of four Cardinal football players in a row, uniformed but helmetless, their intense expressions obligating passersby to, as the billboard advertises, buy their season tickets for Stanford home games.

Working right to left, you have Solomon Thomas, expected to be the rock of the Cardinal’s defense this upcoming season; Michael Rector, the Cardinal’s primary returning wide receiver; Heisman finalist Christian McCaffrey, the face of Stanford football after becoming the spark of the offense; and on the far left, rising fifth-year senior, safety Dallas Lloyd.

Lloyd may appear to be the odd one out on this billboard. While he was the team’s primary strong safety last season and played in all 14 games, he’s not as lethal on defense as Thomas, not as dominant or illustrious as McCaffrey (though no one really is) and probably not as well-known as Rector.

Beyond the billboard, Lloyd is used to being the odd one out on the team itself. He’s a Mormon, the only married player on the team and a former missionary who spent two years in Chile before coming to Stanford.

But it’s those very idiosyncrasies that have shaped him into the football player he is today, someone who deserves to be up on that billboard.

***

Most of the 11,000 football players across the 128 FBS schools follow a similar path: Get recruited, sign with a school, show up to college the summer after you graduate from high school to prepare for the fall football season and, if you’re lucky, earn some playing time right off the bat.

A small fraction of these players — 147 from last year’s FBS teams — deviate from the norm: They put their football careers aside and went on two-year missions before heading off to college.

The vast majority of these former missionaries go to school at BYU, Utah State or Utah, though 11 of them play at Pac-12 schools (specifically Stanford, Oregon State, Arizona and Arizona State). Six of the 147 former missionaries are in school out in California, and three of those six — rising junior Brandon Fanaika, rising sophomore Sean Barton and Lloyd — are at Stanford.

Unlike that of other schools that were recruiting him, Stanford’s coaching staff was supportive of Lloyd’s decision to spend two years on a mission before arriving at the Farm; thus, while Lloyd, recruited as a quarterback, was part of the 2010 signing class, he wouldn’t come to Stanford until 2012.

After getting past the recruiting hurdle, the challenges had just begun for Lloyd.

While some missionaries get called to serve within the United States, others, such as Lloyd, spend their two years in a foreign country. He was initially excited to have been matched with a Spanish-speaking country, since he knew some Spanish.

“When we landed in Chile, I got off the plane with all these other missionaries from the United States. We heard people speaking Spanish and I was like, ‘This is not what they taught me in the United States … this is not Spanish. This is not ok,’” Lloyd said. “I couldn’t understand anything.”

Along with not being able to see his family for two years, he was allowed to email his loved ones just once a week, on Mondays, for only an hour. No phone calls, texts or social media were permitted throughout the mission, though he could Skype his family twice a year, on Christmas and on Mother’s Day.

There was no one with whom Lloyd could throw around a football, and the areas where he lived did not have any gyms. Instead, his workouts consisted of running through the streets in the early morning before his studies started at 8:30 a.m. He had to convince his companion, a person he’d be paired with for as little as six weeks or as long as three months, to come along for his morning workouts, even if the companion had no desire to work out.

The missionaries would spend nine hours a day talking to Chileans on the streets, trying to teach them about Mormonism, but they were not typically well-received. While some Chileans would kindly decline to speak with them, others would tell them to get lost (“gringo, go home”). People would often invite the missionaries to their homes but would be absent when they arrived later that day.

Stray dogs would chase after the missionaries — there was a running joke that you couldn’t complete your mission without being bitten by one of them. At one point Lloyd couldn’t sleep for two weeks because he was so uncomfortable from the fleas that were eating him alive at night. People would throw rocks at Lloyd and the other missionaries, and once, a group of teenagers spat on him.

“It was so hard. It was so hard, looking back on it…” Lloyd said. “If you can go on a mission for two years, you can do anything.”

***

Spending two years on a mission instead of coming straight to Stanford seemed at first to be a setback for Lloyd’s football career.

Lloyd arrived at the Farm for the 2012 season, one year removed from the Andrew Luck era. As Kevin Hogan earned the starting quarterback job from then-starter Josh Nunes, Lloyd did not see any action. Things weren’t much better his sophomore year: He got the ball twice in the Cardinal’s first game of the season against San Jose State — the first time in the second quarter, rushing for 7 yards, and the second time fumbling the ball early in the fourth. After that, he would appear in six other games and only get the ball four more times in 2013, recording 26 total rush yards on the season. He never passed the ball that year.

“It was really frustrating,” Lloyd said. “I was upset at myself and I let these thoughts of doubt come into my mind, like, ‘If I [hadn’t] gone on a mission, then I would have been able to come straight to Stanford.’”

With Hogan’s spot at quarterback seemingly secured for the next two years and Lloyd’s prospects not looking promising, Lloyd even considered transferring from Stanford.

“I realized they were all just excuses,” he said. “They were justifying the fact that I wasn’t getting it done.”

“It’s really sad that those two years, the best two years of my life, became an excuse for why I was so frustrated,” he added. “Looking back, it had nothing to do with those two years. I was a better person and football player because of those two years.”

Instead of choosing to transfer or spend the remainder of his career on the bench, Lloyd turned his efforts to finding an alternate way to get on the field and contribute towards the team’s success: He would make the switch from offense to defense — from quarterback to safety — in his junior year.

After having finally gotten a grasp of Stanford’s offensive playbook, considered one of the most complex in college football, Lloyd had to completely switch gears and start over, learning new techniques, changing his diet, turning to film and relying on his older teammates — “Jordan Richards was the best. I had so many questions… He was so annoyed with me, I’m sure.” — to show him the ropes.

“It was really hard,” Lloyd said. “I hadn’t backpedaled since high school — which was like five years ago. I felt like a freshman again.”

Defensive backs coach Duane Akina, who had had experience coaching players who transitioned from offense to defense, came to Stanford at around the same time that Lloyd made the switch and helped him get used to his new position. Former Cardinal and NFL greats Richard Sherman and John Lynch, who both switched from offense to defense during their careers, offered their advice and helped him realize that his offensive foundation would not go to waste — in fact, it could actually be used to better analyze opposing offenses.

After playing in nine games as a junior, Lloyd finally had the opportunity in 2015 to make a name for himself: He appeared in all 14 games and, with fellow former offensive teammate Kodi Whitfield, filled the role of the Cardinal’s primary safeties. Lloyd’s 55 tackles were third-best on the team behind NFL-bound Blake Martinez and Aziz Shittu.

“I just felt like it was all meant to be,” Lloyd said. “I knew just like anything else that my experience was going to be what I made it.

“The platform was there and the work was there for me,” he added. “I just took advantage of it.”

***

Before he decided to go on a mission, Lloyd had reached a point where he knew he was at a crossroads with his faith: He was either in or out.

“I reflected upon the experiences I’d had in my life … the best moments that I’ve had, which have been when I’ve been serving other people or loving other people,” Lloyd said. “Despite all the trials and the [internal] storm that was going on, I felt peace and happiness deep down inside when I believed in Jesus Christ and when I tried to follow Him.”

And that’s why, despite all the difficulties from those two years, going on his mission was one of the best times of Lloyd’s life.

“From the outside, I wasn’t getting anything out of it,” Lloyd said. “But every day, you go out and you talk to people on the streets, you get to know them, you ask if you can come teach them. You talk to them about their families, you go into their homes and see what they’re like. It was the most amazing thing.”

Along with the people the missionaries would approach on the street, they got to know Chilean Mormons. The Chileans would have them over for lunch, their biggest meal of the day, or would come over for “family home evenings,” once-a-week get-togethers that allowed the Chileans to get to know the missionaries and learn more about Mormonism.

The missionaries wouldn’t have to teach the Chileans about their faith to serve them: Lloyd recalls weeding a woman’s yard for the entire day, even though she said she didn’t want to hear anything about Mormonism.

“Literally, it’s 24/7, you’re just focused on helping other people,” Lloyd said.

One day in particular stands out to him: Six families had signed up for appointments for the afternoon, but when Lloyd and his fellow missionaries arrived at their homes, no one was there. The same day, a stray dog had attacked one of the guys Lloyd was with, and people had thrown rocks at the group. They were about to go home but took a minute to pray, asking to find someone that they could help as the day closed. They looked up when they were done and saw on the street ahead a single house with its light on.

They approached the house and called out to see if anyone was home. A woman peeked out the window and her eyes went wide; she explained to the missionaries that she had just been praying for help — her husband was planning to leave her and her young son the following day.

“There were moments like that throughout my whole mission that made all of the days where horrible things happened or where nothing happened despite our hard work so worth it,” Lloyd said.

“That was probably the happiest period of time I’ve ever had.”

***

For his first two years at Stanford, Lloyd approached football in a way that is probably unrecognizable to most of his teammates today.

“My first two years here, I got really focused on myself and was really unhappy,” Lloyd said. “I [have] all these hard stories from my mission, but at the end of the day, those were two of the most happy years of my life because I wasn’t focusing on myself, I was focusing on other people. I finally had a wake-up call that that [also] applies to football.”

He figured out how to apply what he had found to be so beautiful about his mission — focusing on others instead of himself — to football: not simply by switching from quarterback to safety so he could contribute to the team, but by becoming a leader for the defense and the team as a whole.

“He definitely does everything in his power to make it so that other people are appreciated,” linebacker Noor Davis said. “He goes out of his way to help people.”

“He’s really our comfort blanket back there,” fellow safety Whitfield said. “He has the ability to calm everyone down if things aren’t going [well] and to inspire people.”

Lloyd even stepped up to become the holder for field goals this past season after kicker Conrad Ukropina asked him to assume the role with the graduation of former holder Ben Rhyne.

“He dedicated himself to it when he really didn’t have to. He was going to start at safety, regardless,” Ukropina said. “He doesn’t have to work that hard, but he does.”

Already during this offseason, Lloyd is one of two seniors who helped organize a meeting among the leadership of the team to discuss the mentality they want to have going into summer workouts and ways in which to better help the younger players prepare for the upcoming season. He’s also planning to hold casual film sessions for the defense throughout the summer. His teammates already speak of him as a strong possibility to be one of next season’s captains.

***

“If you apply too much of Mormonism to football when you’re on the field, you’re not going to get along very well,” Lloyd said. “You won’t stand a chance.”

That may be true to a certain extent — it’s difficult to apply the peace-loving tenets of Mormonism to a game as brutal as football. But the ways in which Lloyd’s faith has shaped him as a player — one who can respond to obstacles and come out better from them, one who constantly puts others before himself — are undeniable.

The parallels go deeper, too.

To Lloyd, Mormonism also offers a promise for what is to come after life on earth: a knowledge that he can be with his family — his wife Libby, his parents Casey and Angie, and his siblings Jake, Ellie and Savannah — and friends, forever.

“I think about all the relationships that I’ve built while I’m here on earth, and I don’t want those to end,” he said. “It just doesn’t feel natural, it just doesn’t seem right for all the knowledge that we’ve acquired, all the experiences that we’ve had, to come just to an abrupt end… I have hope in that.”

Those same relationships are what says he’ll most take away from his five years at Stanford.

“My teammates, I love them. They’re such amazing people,” Lloyd said. “My coaches, my classmates, all of them have just touched me, inspired my life.”

Lloyd names gratitude as one of the things that’s made him happiest.

“Whenever I’m complaining or moaning and groaning because of workouts, or because I’m waking up early, or because I have to eat healthy … I just need to take a step back and realize how amazing this is and how grateful I am to be able to run around, to have a body where I can play, to have coaches and teammates and [to spend] time with such amazing people on campus that I never would have met [otherwise].”

These moments often manifest themselves in the middle of football games.  

“I just have a second to look around, at the camera that’s floating down, to look at a hundred thousand fans and my teammates and the other team,” Lloyd said. “I just take a deep breath and just realize how beautiful this whole experience is and how lucky I am to be out there.”

***

In the final months of his mission, people told Lloyd that if he had worked his hardest and put his heart into everything he did, leaving would be one of the most difficult parts of the experience.

He doubted it. He was excited to finally see his family after two years, to get back to football and to start his life at Stanford.

But when he got on the plane to leave, he looked out the window at the Andes and started crying.

“I’d given my all for these people and had so many amazing experiences. And I didn’t want to go home,” he said. “I know it’ll probably be the same thing when I’m done here.”

Two years of his mission and four years of Stanford later, Lloyd finds himself nearing another ending: to his Stanford education and possibly his football career.

There’s plenty of work to do up until then: The players have a few weeks until their grueling summer workouts start, and then before they know it, the season will be underway. Lloyd, who has been accepted into a co-term program in the communications department, will return to the field as a fifth-year senior, looking to build upon his performance last season as he leaves his final mark on the Farm.

“I’m afraid to think about the day when it’s all said and done,” Lloyd said.

He pauses. “For now, I just want to leave my all. I want to have no regrets.”

He shifts from Stanford back to his mission — a transition he makes often, though one that seems natural, seamless. He describes how his last few months in Chile were the best because he worked his hardest and with the most urgency.

“I know the same thing is going to apply here,” Lloyd said. “I know it’s going to be the best seven months.”

His next two sentences are still about Stanford — but they are just vague enough that they might mean something more.

“I never want to leave. This is the best life.”

 

Contact Alexa Philippou at aphil723 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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On the attack: Stanford volleyball seniors look to continue careers in Europe http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/05/31/on-the-attack-stanford-volleyball-seniors-look-to-continue-careers-in-europe/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=on-the-attack-stanford-volleyball-seniors-look-to-continue-careers-in-europe http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/05/31/on-the-attack-stanford-volleyball-seniors-look-to-continue-careers-in-europe/#respond Tue, 31 May 2016 08:03:09 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1115969 As the 2015-16 school year draws to a close, the Stanford men’s volleyball team prepares to salute four of its finest. After a long and successful season, the four graduating seniors are enjoying their last weeks of school.

Conrad Kaminski, Madison Hayden, James Shaw and Alex Stephanus have officially seen their last season as members of the Stanford volleyball team, but although their Stanford careers are over, three of the four plan to continue into professional leagues.

Madison Hayden

Madison Hayden, Stanford’s star outside hitter, played four years of great volleyball on The Farm. In just his freshman year, Madison was off the bench in 20 games, often being put in as a serve specialist.

Outside Hitter Madison Hayden #17. Photo by Rahim Ullah

Senior outside hitter Madison Hayden (right) was named to the All-MPSF second team this past season, and was part of the starting lineup for the Cardinal during both his junior and senior years. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

By his sophomore year, Hayden was playing regularly and even earned himself a then-career-high 6 kills at the end of the season against UC San Diego. But all of this was only warmup.

As a junior, Hayden played as the starting outside hitter, and he did not disappoint. He was top 10 in the MPSF conference for both points for set and kills per set, often leading the team in the latter category. Despite a rough season for the entire team, Hayden’s tally was impressive.

In his fourth and final year, Hayden was named All-MPSF second team after a stellar season. The outside hitter was imperative in important wins throughout the season, posting highs in kills, digs, blocks and aces.

Now, Hayden is looking to use the strengths he developed in college to guide him to a professional career in Europe.

“I’m talking to teams and agents right now and sort of finalizing who I’m going to sign with,” Hayden said. “It looks like it’ll probably be somewhere in France or the Netherlands.”

Before narrowing it down to a couple of teams in these countries, Hayden, like the other seniors, had to go through a tough process of finding an agent the second the collegiate season ended.

This process consisted of talking to several agents, “mostly through Facebook,” each of which promised to get him a spot on a strong team. Positions offered included teams in Austria, Poland and Korea.

According to Hayden, the most stressful part was determining the legitimacy of the agents, since he did not know most of them personally. The easier part was talking to individual coaches looking to sign him.

If Hayden didn’t end up playing abroad, he would have most likely started a job at a consulting firm in San Francisco that he had set up as a backup plan. But Hayden knew that his dream was to become a professional volleyball player, and he’s on the right track to getting there.

“When I came to Stanford, I knew a few older guys who were playing abroad that really enjoyed it. It was always a goal to go play abroad and just see how I stacked up against the best volleyball players,” he said.

One of things that Hayden is most excited for is the prospect of living in Europe. “My whole life has basically just been in California. On top of volleyball, I’ve heard that you find out so many things about yourself by living out of the country.”

James Shaw

James Shaw has been on the Stanford volleyball court since childhood, when his dad was head coach of first the women’s team and then the men’s. Growing up, volleyball was a big part of his life, and it will continue to be so as he too takes on a professional career in Europe.

Setter James Shaw #8. Photo by Rahim Ullah

Senior setter James Shaw (above) was a standout player for the Cardinal in all of his four years on The Farm, and was named MPSF Player of the Year this past season. He was third in the NCAA for attacks, and 12th in assists per set. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Shaw knew from his early days that he wanted to take on the big leagues. In 2013, he was the first freshman to start at setter since 2007, earning high praise and playing great matches. The next year, he kept himself in the top five on several charts within both the MPSF and the NCAA.

The following summer, the young player began training with the U.S. national team in Anaheim, which he has since done twice more and plans to do for many summers to come.

After firmly establishing himself in the collegiate world, Shaw unfortunately had to sit out a big part of his junior year due to an injury, but this only fueled him to come back stronger his senior year. In his final year, the setter was third in the NCAA for attacks and 12th in assists per set, earning MPSF Player of the Year, making the All-MPSF First Team and earning several other honors.

Now, Shaw, who has officially signed with “one of the best [agents] in the world,” will most likely end up in Italy, Poland or France.

In the meantime, Shaw is focused on his training in Anaheim, which has started and will continue throughout the summer.

“I’m finally getting healthy for the first time, so things are really looking up. I would obviously love to get on the court this summer with the team and represent America, but the setting position is full of guys who are talented and have been in the gym longer than I,” Shaw said. “The coaches know, though, that I’m in it for the long haul, so I have no worries or stresses about making an immediate impact.”

Shaw’s hope is to play in Europe during the regular season and return home to play for the U.S. national team during summers “for the next 10 to 15 years.”

Despite his bright future in the outside world, Shaw expressed his appreciation for “all the hard work on everyone’s part in helping us seniors become the best men we could possibly be.”

There is a fair chance he will be back in some capacity for the Cardinal, possibly following in his father’s footsteps as a coach for the program.

Conrad Kaminski

The last senior who will be putting his talents to the test is middle Conrad Kaminski. Unlike Hayden and Shaw, playing professional volleyball was not on Kaminski’s radar until relatively recently.

Middle Blocker Conrad Kaminski #4. Photo by Rahim Ullah

Senior middle blocker Conrad Kaminsky (middle) has been a consistent performer for the men’s squad, tallying a career-high 15 kills in a game this season and leading the NCAA in blocks per set. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

“When I was a freshman, I wanted to play volleyball and see how good I could get — I didn’t expect to even really be on the floor,” Kaminski said. “Volleyball was sort of my ticket into school. I was going to get an engineering degree from a premier institution and be able to go and follow that career.”

Kaminski’s career played out much differently than he thought it would. His freshman year, he started twice, appearing in 10 total matches. By his sophomore year, he had become the team’s starting middle blocker, making new records in Stanford volleyball history and being placed on the All-America Second Team.

During his junior year, Kaminski was the only player on the Stanford team to start every single match, once again earning high honors in the collegiate world. By his senior season, he tallied a career-high 15 kills in a game and was consistently notching blocks to help his team win. He finished the season with 14 individual blocks and an astounding 121 block assists, blowing away competition and placing first in the NCAA in blocks per set.

Most likely, Kaminski will end up at a club based in Ravenna, Italy, which is currently in the highest Italian league: Lega Pallavolo Serie A.

“The Italian league is one of the most competitive leagues in the world. I’ve heard people show up, and it’s competitive, and there’s a good culture around it. Every time I hear something like that, it’s only positively reinforcing this decision,” he said with a smile.

Besides the excitement of playing in a professional league this upcoming year, Kaminski admitted how sad it was to be done with Stanford volleyball.

Having just come from an intense, but lonely, workout, he said, “Even now, just seeing guys in the locker room, I’m going to work out on my own, and I’m not with the guys as they’re doing their team activities. I’m an old guy now.”

 

Contact Laura Sussman at laura111 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/05/31/on-the-attack-stanford-volleyball-seniors-look-to-continue-careers-in-europe/feed/ 0 Outside Hitter Madison Hayden #17. Photo by Rahim Ullah Outside Hitter Madison Hayden #17. Photo by Rahim Ullah Setter James Shaw #8. Photo by Rahim Ullah Setter James Shaw #8. Photo by Rahim Ullah Middle Blocker Conrad Kaminski #4. Photo by Rahim Ullah Middle Blocker Conrad Kaminski #4. Photo by Rahim Ullah
Q&A with U.S. equestrian Lucy Davis ’15 on her Road to Rio http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/05/31/qa-with-lucy-davis-15-on-her-road-to-rio/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-with-lucy-davis-15-on-her-road-to-rio http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/05/31/qa-with-lucy-davis-15-on-her-road-to-rio/#respond Tue, 31 May 2016 07:59:35 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1115968 Lucy Davis ‘15 has reached the height of international equestrian competition. Davis is among the 10 Americans selected to participate in the trials for the 2016 U.S. Olympic show jumping team, of which five will make the cut for Rio. Although fellow team members Beezie Madden, McLain Ward and Kent Farrington are almost universally considered locks for Rio, Davis still has a strong chance at claiming one of the final two Olympic spots.

But Davis’ achievements extend beyond the equestrian arena. Davis studied full-time at Stanford and majored in architecture while also riding professionally since her freshman year on The Farm. In 2012, she began competing with the horse she currently rides in competitions, Barron. That same year, Davis and Barron broke out onto the world stage with a first-place finish at the 2013 Grand Prix in Lausanne, Switzerland. The Daily spoke with Davis as part of its Road to Rio Olympic coverage about Barron, her training regime for Rio and what it was like balancing it all when she was still a student at Stanford.

The Stanford Daily (TSD): Can you talk about making the shortlist for the Olympics? What has the qualifying process been like?

Lucy Davis (LD): Two years ago, at the World Championships in Normandy, I was on the [U.S.] team and we got bronze. That’s when I realized that my essentially lifelong dream and goal of going to the Olympics could be a possibility. Since then, I have been focusing to peak, ideally, at the right time.

TSD: You participated in the Olympic trials in 2012 for the London Olympics as well, right?

LD: Yes. I was 10th, so I was still considered in the top 10. [The top five qualifiers went on to compete in London.] Four years ago, I had a different horse. He was extremely talented and had a huge heart, but the horse I have now is a once-in-a-lifetime horse, as they say. I would say it’s my best shot this year [to be among the final top five qualifiers for the U.S. team].

TSD: What’s your new horse, Barron, like?

LD: He has a very particular personality. We have to work together to compromise a lot. Other sports in the Olympics are just individual or team, but to be working with an animal that’s so unpredictable is a challenge — but it’s also super rewarding.

In the competition arena, he’s mostly business, which is lucky. At home, he can be a bit of a punk, I would say. He will very easily spin you off. He’s just got a lot of little idiosyncrasies. Basically, we have to have earplugs in him at all times, because any odd noise and he’s gone.

TSD: What is a typical day of training for you like, now that you are riding full-time?

LD: I’m based in northern Germany. I’m at the stable around 7:30 or 8 a.m. every morning. I ride usually around six horses, until about noon. After lunch, I usually do some sort of physical training. I like running and weights. I do a lot of yoga too, because the pounding on your back can get pretty rough.

Another thing that’s pretty unique about our sport is that it’s coed. Being a small girl, depending on the horse, can be an advantage. But I’m physically not as strong as some 6-foot dude, so I have to supplement a lot more with my fitness.

TSD: How does training full-time compare to what you did while at Stanford?

LD: At Stanford, it was a lot more hectic and a lot less sleep. But I’m lucky — because of Stanford, I was able to maintain almost the same schedule. The Red Barn is so close on campus. Most of my friends don’t go to university, because it takes time and energy away from their riding.

With the Red Barn, I was able to ride every morning. I usually rode three or four horses, then I would go to class. In the afternoons I could go to the gym or run around campus with friends. And you know, social life is easy because it’s all there [on campus]. Stanford basically let me do it all, which is why I miss it so much. Don’t ever leave!

TSD: What was it like to major in architecture at Stanford?

LD: It’s within civil and environmental engineering. It’s an awesome major. It wasn’t ideal for the traveling, because you can’t really bring your models on Delta. I tried to arrange my schedule so I could take studio classes when I wasn’t traveling as much.

TSD: An engineering major? That’s pretty intense.

LD: Yeah, it was intense. But it balanced a lot of my interests. I got to do creative design, art history and a lot of math and science as well. I got to take a lot of [environmental engineering] sustainability courses.

TSD: In hindsight, did you get anything out of your time at Stanford that you weren’t necessarily expecting?

LD: I’ve been riding my whole life and balancing it with school. In high school, I was basically M.I.A. most weekends for competitions. What I was not expecting from Stanford was, like I said earlier, to really be able to do it all.

A lot of young riders ask me about my experience. I always, weirdly, did better when I had everything going on. When I was able to go to classes, ride, hang out with friends, I felt more balanced and I always seemed to perform really well in my riding.

 

Contact Alexa Corse at corsea ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Baseball bounces back against Oregon, sweeps weekend series http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/05/31/baseball-bounces-back-against-oregon-sweeps-weekend-series/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=baseball-bounces-back-against-oregon-sweeps-weekend-series http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/05/31/baseball-bounces-back-against-oregon-sweeps-weekend-series/#respond Tue, 31 May 2016 07:55:38 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1115954 Coming off a disappointing series against the Washington Huskies that knocked the team out of the playoffs, the Stanford baseball team (31-23, 15-15 Pac-12) bounced back and ended its regular season with a sweep of the Oregon Ducks (29-26, 14-16 Pac-12) over the weekend.

Stanford, CA -- May 15, 2015: Stanford Cardinal vs the Oregon State Beavers at Klein Field, Sunken Diamond. The Beavers defeated the Cardinal 5-2.

Junior pitcher Brett Hanewich (above) played six strong innings for the Cardinal on Thursday, only allowing three hits, one walk and one unearned run against the Ducks. (BOB DREBIN/stanfordphoto.com)

The Cardinal pitching held the Ducks to only 4 runs over the three-game set, with strong performances from all starters and relievers. In addition, Sunday’s game was Senior Day at the Sunken Diamond, which provided the team and fans the opportunity to honor the seniors graduating in just a few weeks.

“It was a great weekend,” senior Austin Barr said. “It’s been awesome to be out here with [fellow seniors] Jonny [Locher], [Daniel Starwalt] and Bobby [Zarubin]. What a way to cap off a memorable four years.”

While the two teams came in evenly matched record-wise, the Cardinal have been playing especially well down the stretch, winning nine of the last 13 games. They end the season ranked sixth in the tightly packed Pac-12 rankings, just narrowly missing the playoffs by two conference games.

On Thursday, after Barr and Locher cracked back to back singles in the seventh inning, freshman second baseman Nico Hoerner broke the 1-1 tie and gave the Cardinal the lead with an opposite field single.

Junior pitcher Brett Hanewich went six strong innings, only allowing three hits, one walk and one unearned run. His success stemmed from his ability to consistently throw strikes and keep the Oregon batters on edge. Sophomore reliever Andrew Summerville notched the win while sophomore Colton Hock notched his fifth save of the season.

Oregon struck first in the top of the fifth with an unusual play that had one runner score on a wild throw home before another was caught in a rundown to end the inning. Junior Tommy Edman tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI double down the left field line. Edman also flashed some leather with an impressive sliding catch in foul territory.

While they only scored two runs, the Cardinal offense was hot on Thursday as they tallied 10 hits over the course of the game. They struggled to bring the runners home, however, as they left nine men on base.

The next day, fans packed the Sunken Diamond for the annual Fireworks Night, which lit up the sky after Stanford took home a 4-2 victory. It was another exceptional pitching performance from the Card, as freshman Tristan Beck went 6.2 innings and only allowed a single hit. Hock closed out the game for his sixth save.

Sophomore Mikey Diekroeger added three runs to the tally for the team with a bases-clearing, two-out double in the bottom of the sixth that flew past the dive of the Ducks left-fielder. Locher also had a big night, adding three hits, two of which were doubles.

While the team’s pitching excelled, at times the defense was a bit sloppy. In the first game, a wild throw allowed the only run for the Ducks. In the second, Stanford defenders committed two errors, one of which allowed Oregon to score one of its two runs.

Saturday’s game was the seniors’ last, and it was a repeat of the excellent pitching the Cardinal put forth in the other games of the series. Junior southpaw Chris Castellanos put up 7.2 innings of one-run, six-hit baseball. He was credited with his eighth win of the season. Summerville followed suit and closed out the game for his first save on the year.

While Stanford was making good contact and hitting the ball well, the Oregon defense was just too good early on in the game. Sliding catches in the outfield and quick hands behind the plate robbed the Cardinal of several run-scoring opportunities. In the top of the sixth, the Ducks struck first and took a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the seventh, junior Alex Dunlap cranked a hanging curveball over the left-field wall to drive home Tommy Edman and give the team a 2-1 lead. On the very next at-bat, senior Austin Barr then finished off his collegiate baseball career in style with a solo home run to left-center that barely escaped the reach of the leaping Ducks center fielder. His teammates celebrated accordingly by drenching him in an ice bath during his postgame interview.

While the season is over for Stanford as they didn’t make  the 64 team cutoff for the postseason tournament, some juniors and seniors will eagerly be awaiting the MLB Draft, which begins June 9.

 

Contact Yousef Hindy at yhindy ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

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http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/05/31/baseball-bounces-back-against-oregon-sweeps-weekend-series/feed/ 0 Brett Hanewich Stanford, CA -- May 15, 2015: Stanford Cardinal vs the Oregon State Beavers at Klein Field, Sunken Diamond. The Beavers defeated the Cardinal 5-2.
No. 1 men’s golf disappoints at NCAA championships http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/05/31/no-1-mens-golf-disappoints-at-ncaa-championships/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=no-1-mens-golf-disappoints-at-ncaa-championships http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/05/31/no-1-mens-golf-disappoints-at-ncaa-championships/#respond Tue, 31 May 2016 07:54:30 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1115937 For the second straight season, a promising Stanford men’s golf team saw its season come to an early end after it failed to make the first cut at the NCAA championships.

STANFORD, CA - March 26, 2016: Stanford hosts The Goodwin at Stanford Golf Course. Stanford finished third in the tournament.

Senior David Boote (above) was one of the only bright spots in Stanford’s lineup at the NCAA Championships, shooting a 216 that placed him in a tie for 50th place. (BOB DREBIN/stanfordphoto.com)

The Cardinal finished in 28th place in the 30-team tournament, accruing a team score of +44 over the course of three days after hitting above par on 78 different holes. Though no team managed to make par on the difficult Eugene Country Club course, this finish still landed them 18 strokes back of the mark they needed to qualify for the final day of the stroke championship.

For a team that came into the tournament ranked No. 1 in the country, the results were a bit of a letdown.

“It’s a team game, and we weren’t firing on all cylinders,” head coach Conrad Ray remarked. “We’ll have to go back and see why that was, and hopefully, it will make us better in the future. It’s disappointing, considering that our guys are motivated to win and motivated to have high expectations.”

The tournament marks the end a strong season for the Cardinal, which saw them capture the Pac-12 title and come in first in the NCAA regional tournament in Tucson. Stanford had been on a three-match winning streak going into the championship but seemed to struggle from the beginning in Eugene.

Four of the five Cardinal players finished at +12 or above on the weekend, posting scores that landed them outside the top 100 individual finishers. Junior Maverick McNealy seemed particularly out of rhythm, as the country’s top collegiate golfer counted just one of his rounds toward the team’s score after sandwiching a decent 1-over 71 with two rounds of +6.

McNealy finished one stroke behind sophomore Franklin Huang (+12) and one stroke ahead of freshman Brandon Wu (+14). Sophomore Jeffery Swegle rounded out Stanford’s lineup, ending near the bottom 10 with a score of +19.

Senior David Boote was the closest to a highlight for the team, shooting a 216 that put him in a tie for 50th place. Boote rode a first round of 69 — the only below-par performance for the Cardinal all weekend — to end his Stanford career with a +6.

While the results were not what the team was hoping for, it can take some solace in that most of its lineup will return next season. Boote is the only departing member of the squad who consistently counted his score toward the team’s, and Ray hopes the rest of his players will use this experience to make them better next season.

“I’m proud of our team,” Ray said. “We put in a lot of hard work and preparation throughout the season. Sometimes it’s the way the game goes. Sometimes you do all you can do and it doesn’t go your way. It’s not losing, it’s learning.”

 

Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/05/31/no-1-mens-golf-disappoints-at-ncaa-championships/feed/ 0 David Boote STANFORD, CA - March 26, 2016: Stanford hosts The Goodwin at Stanford Golf Course. Stanford finished third in the tournament.
Shi: Closing Time http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/05/31/shi-closing-time/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=shi-closing-time http://www.stanforddaily.com/2016/05/31/shi-closing-time/#comments Tue, 31 May 2016 07:52:48 +0000 http://www.stanforddaily.com/?p=1115971 P1010481

Stanford won as many Rose Bowls in my four years here as California has won in its entire history. This is a true fact, wholly undeniable and incontrovertible. Remember me by reminding Cal fans every year about this.

I don’t do endings very well. I never have, which is ironic because I’ve had to write an awful lot of them – leaving Sports for Ops, stepping down from Ops, my last Instant Replay tactics piece, my final football column, my retrospective on my four years at the Daily, and this final Sports column. Six goodbyes in four years, and I haven’t even written my final opinions column yet. I don’t like endings, but I celebrate them anyway because until now, they haven’t even been endings at all. I really am a drama queen.

In other words, I was made for sports.

Like Christianity, where the liturgical calendar cycles around every year, but personal sanctification is supposed to deepen with every day and heaven lasts forever, sports merge the timeless and the evanescent. It shouldn’t feel coincidental that nothing is likened to religion more than athletics. Playing and watching sports teaches you that everything has a beginning and an end, but that no end is truly permanent. In sports we get both the pageantry of accomplishment that comes with an ending – Kobe Bryant only got his title trophies at season’s close, after all – and the promise that such glory will last into eternity. Kevin Hogan will live forever in Stanford lore, and yet like any player, he only got to play four seasons here.

We’ve heard all the stories, all the invocations, all the tales of things no living person can remember. We know that in their constant invocation these tales become part of the present. We’ve seen Mike Trout make grown men look like boys, the video of Kirk Gibson’s miraculous homer in 1988, grainy photos of Willie Mays making “The Catch” against Vic Wertz, and to us they’re all the same. Field of Dreams was right: “America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.”

Everything in sports comes and goes and lives forever.

***

Nevertheless, everything I’ve just said has a tinge of post-facto justification to it. The truth is that I liked sports back when I didn’t know that they could have an almost spiritual quality to them. Cheering for the Lakers and the Dodgers, as I’ve said many times, helped me feel more American when I was living abroad and America was thousands of miles away. And more selfishly, I liked sports because back when everybody in elementary school was young and unathletic, I was good at them.

Although few people have had the opportunity to live abroad at a young age, my experience is deceptively typical. In general, sports fans note that they often love sports for reasons utterly divorced from the present. Discussing the NFL with Bill Simmons, the writer Malcolm Gladwell remarked that he was still a Buffalo Bills fan, even though “the very thing that attracted me to the Bills in the first place – that thrilling offense – has completely disappeared.” (You can almost imagine Gladwell shaking his head.)

What, then, keeps us in our seats when Christian McCaffrey has left the building?

Does the answer really matter? Do we keep on bringing up new answers when the old ones become irrelevant? Not really, because like the proverbial immortal with a mortal memory, sports’ curious relationship with timelessness causes it to conflate the past with the present. Nothing draws us to fandom more than the alchemical mysteries of memory that surround our favorite players and our beloved teams. Past, present, and future all meet on the diamond and the court and the gridiron and center ice. And as every mixture of motivation and memory is unique, we all are able to exult in the feeling that we, uniquely, have been initiated into these ancient mysteries.

***

For somebody who has spent as much time thinking and writing about Stanford sports as I have, I’ve noticed that my archive has precious little discussion of what Stanford Athletics as an institution actually means. I’m not sure why that is. But I would hazard a guess that covering sports as closely as the Daily does encourages us to miss the forest for the trees. If you have to put out a sports section every day, it’s not surprising that you focus on the accomplishments you can readily see.

Nevertheless, my Stanford fandom runs deeper than box scores and press passes to Stanford Stadium. I love writing features because unlike standard reporting, they force you to take a look at the sum of a person – and that’s also why I’m sad that I never got to profile Dick Gould or Randy Hart or Tara VanDerveer or John Dunning or any of the other legendary athletic figures on campus. Stanford Athletics is supposed to be the program that allows its fans the opportunity to see the players and staff as real people, not just aloof divinities. And Stanford has given me that opportunity. I like to believe that it’s people like Shannon Turley and Lance Anderson that made me a Stanford fan.

In the most general sense, part of being a Stanford fan is believing that Stanford Athletics is supposed to be the program that will save sports as a whole – and that is why Stanford sports fans love to talk about the Cardinal. We believe that Stanford does not cheat, that its players play fair, that its commitment to both personal and academic excellence comes before sports – above all, that in an era of college sports marked by cheating, crime, and dirty tricks, Stanford can be a model for the world of intercollegiate athletics. Stanford fans believe that their university is a shining city on a hill. David Shaw claimed that Stanford football can change the world.

We’d all like to believe him.

We’ve also had the deck stacked in our favor in ways that other programs cannot hope to imitate. We get Stanford, and we get a $500 million athletic endowment, committed alumni donors, the biggest athletic budget in the nation’s best conference, a winning tradition in nearly every sport we field, and, of course, the most valuable degree in big-time college sports. We aren’t a model for intercollegiate athletics. We’re our own thing.

But even if the main arguments in favor of Stanford sports aren’t necessarily fair, let’s go back to the beginning. Stanford doesn’t need to be a trailblazer to be worth our respect. And although Turley and Anderson are two of my favorite coaches in the world, I was a Stanford fan before I met them. I fell in love with Stanford Athletics during the Arizona game freshman year when, for a moment, Josh Nunes became a demigod. Back then I didn’t even know who Shannon Turley was!

Stanford Athletics is fun. I watch Stanford’s teams because I like them.

And why not?

***

The last sports event I saw at Stanford was baseball’s season finale. Stanford beat Oregon 3-1 behind 7.2 strong innings behind Chris Castellanos and seventh-inning home runs by Alex Dunlap and Austin Barr. Recap aside, it was a good game. The seniors wanted to win their last home game. I wanted Michael Peterson to have a good time calling his final Stanford baseball game. Everybody won.

I am first and foremost a football writer, but baseball is perhaps the most timeless sport because the game is so fundamentally similar to how it was a hundred years ago – there are more home runs, faster players, and a statistic for every concept that can possibly be quantified, but the fundamental architecture of the game is still the same, and you can still imagine Xander Bogaerts running the same bases that Ted Williams circled so many years ago.

Suffused with immortality, Stanford baseball is all the more beautiful because while LSU and Texas may play in grander venues, Stanford plays in the very best one. Stanford might not be replicable, but – athletically and academically – it was the perfect place for a sports fan like me. It has nice athletes and perfect grass and clean white uniforms and the freshest air in the world. Like Stanford, Sunken Diamond is immaculate, and while there are things you could conceivably add to the place, it’s hard to imagine it being better.

What a time to be alive.

 

Contact Winston Shi at wshi94 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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