Wednesday was a good day to be a Cardinal fan.
Stanford football finalized its 2014 recruiting class by securing the commitments of 20 high-school football players on National Signing Day, including two top recruits who were previously undecided before announcing their intentions on Signing Day. Stanford’s recruiting class now ranks 14th in the nation and second in the Pac-12 to USC according to Rivals.com, which makes it Stanford’s second-best recruiting class since former head coach Jim Harbaugh arrived in 2007 — behind only the class of 2012.
“As usual, the 2014 Stanford class starts up front,” said Stanford head coach David Shaw. “We added four big, physical and athletic offensive linemen, the best all-around tight end in the nation, two penetrating defensive linemen and one of the most athletic and versatile linebacker classes in the country. This year’s class of defensive backs is also comparable to the most athletic groups in the nation. Our skill positions on offense have both toughness and game-changing speed, and it also helps to add the number-one quarterback in the class.”
Scout.com five-star defensive end Solomon Thomas, the No. 20 overall prospect, committed to Stanford live on ESPNU around 5:10 a.m. PST to begin an eventful day for the Cardinal. Thomas is the highest-ranked Cardinal recruit from Texas since Stanford signed Andrew Luck ‘12 in 2008, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Thomas, a native of Coppell, Tex., chose Stanford over Arkansas, where his sister goes to school, and UCLA.
“He’s a complete player, a guy that likes to be a technician,” said defensive line coach Randy Hart about Thomas. “He has a great motor and has the ability to be a great football player.”
Later in the day, Scout.com three-star cornerback Terrence Alexander also announced his intentions to sign with Stanford on ESPNU around 7:30 a.m. Pacific Time. Alexander picked Stanford over Notre Dame.
“We were amazed at how much of a natural cover corner he is, but at the same time he is a tough, physical kid,” said defensive coordinator Lance Anderson about Alexander.
Some of the other key recruits who officially signed their letters of intent on Wednesday after having previously committed to Stanford included four-star quarterback Keller Chryst, five-star offensive tackle Casey Tucker and four-star tight end Dalton Schultz, who each ranked in the top-five recruits at their respective positions, according to Scout.com.
Chryst, a product of Palo Alto High School, announced his intentions to sign with Stanford back in June. Chryst is the highest-ranked quarterback to commit to Stanford since Andrew Luck in 2008. Alabama and USC, among other schools, recruited Chryst before he decided to commit to Stanford.
Tucker could become Stanford’s most prized recruit from this recruiting class for several reasons. The 6-foot-6, 290-pound tackle from Chandler, Ariz., ranks 22nd in Scout.com’s prospect rankings and originally committed to USC before de-committing in April. He then declared his intention to sign with the Cardinal in January.
Stanford’s tradition of producing talented tight ends should continue with the commitment of the nation’s top tight end, Dalton Schultz. Schultz, who hails from Bingham, Utah, brings his 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame to the Cardinal and could potentially see playing time as early as his freshman year.
“Dalton is a kid that all the recruiting services had as the number-one tight end in America,” said offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren. “When we evaluate kids and put them on our board, sometimes we are going to agree with them and sometimes we are not. In Dalton’s case, we absolutely did.”
The offensive line received added depth with Stanford signing Scout.com three-star tackle Reilly Gibbons, three-star guard Jesse Burkett and three-star guard Austin Hall in addition to Tucker. Gibbons, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., had previously verbally committed to Miami (FL) before he changed his mind and committed to Stanford earlier this week.
The defensive front seven should be greatly strengthened by the numerous players on the defensive line and the linebacking corps in the new recruiting class. Scout.com four-star linebacker Joey Alfieri, four-star linebacker Bobby Okereke and three-star linebacker Jordan Perez all signed their letters of intent to play for the Cardinal and will boost a group that is losing stars in fifth-year seniors Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy. Three-star defensive ends Harrison Phillips and Lane Veach pair with Thomas to form a dynamic defensive-line class as well.
Stanford’s backfield gained three new contributors in four-star running back Christian McCaffrey, three-star running back Isaiah Brandt-Sims and three-star fullback Daniel Marx. McCaffrey, the 16th-ranked running back according to Scout.com and son of former Cardinal wide receiver Ed McCaffrey ‘91, was also recruited by Florida State, Ohio State and Oregon and brings his quickness and agility to the Cardinal. Marx also played linebacker and tight end in high school and elicits comparisons to former Stanford fullback and linebacker Owen Marecic ‘11.
The secondary also improved significantly with Stanford’s class of 2014, as Scout.com four-star safety Brandon Simmons, three-star safety Denzel Franklin and three-star cornerbacks Alijah Holder and Alameen Murphy signed their letters of intent to play for Stanford in addition to Alexander. Simmons, an Arlington, Tex. native and the 15th-ranked safety in the nation, was the first recruit to announce his intention to sign with the Cardinal back in April 2013.
Overall, Stanford’s recruiting class consists of players from every position group other than wide receiver and from 12 different states across the nation.
Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.