Twenty-five incoming football freshmen from around the country signed their letters of intent to Stanford on Wednesday as part of National Signing Day, officially becoming Stanford football’s Class of 2020 after months of speculation and recruitment.
Stanford’s latest haul boasts nine four-star recruits, 13 three-star recruits and three two-star recruits, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings. This gives Stanford the No. 16 recruiting class in the country and the No. 3 class in the Pac-12 behind USC and UCLA, which both made big pushes on Signing Day to push ahead of Stanford, which had most of its class locked down before Wednesday.
The Cardinal added only one commit on Signing Day — four-star Pennsylvania safety Andrew Pryts, who flipped from his prior commitment to Penn State in an announcement early Wednesday morning.
Stanford’s commitment to widespread national recruiting was more evident than ever in this recruiting class, with only three of the 25 recruits hailing from California. The Cardinal’s Texas pipeline was also particularly fruitful in this recruiting cycle as Stanford added six players from the Lone Star State. Stanford also maintained its recruiting momentum in Utah and Hawaii, each of which yielded two recruits for this most recent class.
Even though #CardClass16 was so wide-reaching that Stanford even picked up a recruit from Austria (DE Thomas Schaffer), conspicuously absent from this year’s haul were recruits from Georgia, which has turned into one of Stanford’s most reliable Southern pipelines as of late.
In all, Stanford recruited 13 offensive players, 10 defensive players and two specialists that will be put on scholarship next season.
One of the crown jewels of this year’s class (and one of the Cardinal’s earliest and most vocal commits) was four-star quarterback K.J. Costello, whom the Cardinal hope is the long-term solution moving forward at quarterback once Ryan Burns and Keller Chryst are lost to graduation.
Costello, a native of Rancho Santa Margarita in the greater Los Angeles area, is the No. 3 pro-style quarterback recruit in the country and has scouts raving about his future NFL ability as one of his class’s most polished and strongest passers — a perfect fit for Stanford’s system.
Stanford will also shore up its shallow quarterback depth by adding preferred walk-on Jack Richardson to the fray. Richardson, a double Stanford legacy, has been working out at Stanford camps since his freshman year and is a 6-foot-5 pocket-passer hailing from Salinas, California.
Three-star Texas speedster Trevor Speights is one of the most exciting recruits in this year’s class, combining a 200-pound frame with a 4.38 time in the 40-yard dash while bringing an eye-popping high school resume to the table. A four-year starter at running back at McAllen High School, Speights is the No. 4 all-time high school rusher in Texas and notched a mind-boggling 50 touchdowns during his senior season.
The blow from two highly-touted decommitments from Beau Bisharat and Brandon Stephens was softened when Stanford picked up a late commitment from Baltimore running back Dorian Maddox, who brings a sturdy frame, great patience and a physical skill set well-suited to Stanford’s physical running system to The Farm.
The legacy of #TightEndU at Stanford will continue under the watchful guidance of four-star Texas recruit Kaden Smith and three-star Connecticut native Scooter Harrington. Smith is the No. 2 tight end recruit in the country, already has head coach David Shaw raving about his Zach Ertz-like polished route-running abilities and his Coby Fleener-like speed, and could make an immediate impact if he rehabs well from a torn ACL/MCL that sidelined him for his senior season. Harrington, with his 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame, brings college-ready size and physical tools to the table as well.
Another signee that Stanford is thrilled about is four-star Simi Fehoko, this year’s top recruit out of the state of Utah. The Cardinal are hoping that Fehoko can leverage his 6-foot-4 frame and 4.5 time in the 40-yard dash to become Stanford’s next great possession receiver in the mold of Devon Cajuste in the coming years.
While Donald Stewart and Paxton Segina didn’t have the highest recruiting rankings, both are players that Stanford has been scouting for a long time and were very impressed with when they worked out for the coaching staff in years past. Stewart was a late addition to the class and Segina flipped from an initial commitment to Rice.
This is where things get really fun. The fearsome quintet of Clark Yarbrough (282 pounds), Devery Hamilton (290 pounds), Henry Hattis (270 pounds), Nate Herbig (350 pounds) and Dylan Powell (270 pounds) have already dubbed themselves the #FatBoyFive and bring not just lots of meat but also stellar athleticism and mobility to the table — something that Mike Bloomgren keeps a keen eye out for when he’s on the recruiting trail.
Yarbrough and Hamilton (a late flip from Michigan) have all the tools to be the Cardinal’s next great stalwarts at tackle, while Herbig is one of the rare breed of linemen that might actually have to cut some weight while in college. Hattis and Powell have tremendous upside and should also become solid contributors sooner rather than later.
One guy that might get overlooked but absolutely shouldn’t is three-star Matthew Gutwald, who turned down scholarship offers from Pac-12, Mountain West and Ivy League schools to come to Stanford as a preferred walk-on. Look for the talented Dublin native to make a big impact as well.
Shaw is absolutely thrilled about his freshman defensive linemen, and really, looking at the talented haul of Michael Williams (300 pounds), Thomas Schaffer (270 pounds/122 kg. in Austria), Jovan Swann (270 pounds) and Bo Peek (290 pounds), it’s not hard to see why.
These guys are probably bigger than any of the guys Stanford put on its defensive line last year, and given that Stanford is looking at giving heavy playing time to two recent converts to the defensive line (Luke Kaumatule, Eric Cotton) this upcoming season, look for one or maybe even two of these freshmen to come in and make immediate rotation impacts if their technique is college-ready.
Stanford’s only true nose tackle on the roster right now is rising sophomore Wesley Annan, and if the Cardinal want to move Harrison Phillips back to his natural position at defensive end, Williams or Peek could be the immediate answer to provide depth at the very least.
Quality over quantity here. Los Angeles outside linebacker Curtis Robinson was a five-star recruit according to some services and should be the next great Stanford edge rusher in a few years once he’s put on some more size to go along with his stellar mobility and drive that he used to terrorize opposing offenses in high school.
The only other linebacker Stanford added in this year’s class was outside linebacker Loa Kaufusi from Utah, though 2015 commit Jordan Fox will also join the team this season after deferring his enrollment for a year to bolster the corps as well. Stanford did not add an inside linebacker in this year’s cycle.
Stanford won some big recruiting battles to pick up yet another stellar DB class headlined by four-stars Treyjohn Butler (cornerback) and Andrew Pryts (safety), the late flip from Penn State. Combine them with the hotly contested Obi Eboh (cornerback), whom Stanford flipped from Texas late in the game, and Louisiana safety Malik Antoine, and the Cardinal have yet another talented crop of young pupils for Duane Akina that will continue to bolster an already-crowded Stanford secondary that is poised to be one of the best in the country for years and years to come.
With four-year long snapper Reed Miller graduating, look for San Antonio native Richard McNitzky to be the Cardinal’s next go-to option at punt snapper this season (though he’ll almost certainly compete for that job with current field goal snapper C.J. Keller). Punter/kicker Jet Toner (owner of the best name in the nation) should compete for starting field goal duties in 2017 with walk-ons Charlie Beall and Collin Riccitelli once Conrad Ukropina graduates.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.