By Samuel Curry
Quality over quantity.
The 2017 Stanford football recruiting class adequately embodied the old adage Wednesday, as 14 of some of the best recruits from all over the nation signed a National Letter of Intent to play college football in a Cardinal uniform.
It all started at 4:12 a.m. PT, when three-star safety Stuart Head signed on after verbally committing in December of 2015.
The 6-foot-4 safety from Georgia was the first of many to make their verbal commitments official and cement the 2017 Cardinal class as one of the best in the nation.
While the class is ranked 24th in the nation per Scout.com, rankings like these cannot do justice for a class as unique as Stanford’s. The rankings of schools such as Oklahoma and Michigan are undoubtedly bolstered by the sheer size of their classes, with 27 and 28 signing on to the programs, respectively. But what stands out about the Cardinal class is its quality, as Stanford’s small class is ranked fourth in per-player average ranking.
That excellence comes from players such as offensive tackles Walker Little and Foster Sarell, two giants who have a chance to make an immediate impact on a Stanford offensive line that didn’t quite meet expectations last season despite late success.
Sarell, at 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds, is the No. 1 offensive tackle in the nation, while Little, at 6-foot-8 and 305 pounds, is listed at No. 2.
Little, from Bellaire, Texas, verbally committed to Stanford in December, and Sarell, from Graham, Washington, announced his decision to come to the Farm at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January.
The two may be protecting the top-ranked quarterback in the nation in future seasons, as quarterback Davis Mills from Norcross, Georgia, made his commitment official on Wednesday. Mills, lauded for his accuracy and football IQ, has been verbally committed to Stanford since March.
“We needed to add a top-flight quarterback,” head coach David Shaw said. “We wanted to add some special players to our offensive line. And we needed to add dynamic football players who can score touchdowns for us at the skill positions.”
Mills was not the only weapon acquired by the Cardinal offense Wednesday by a long shot. The nationally top-rated tight end from Westlake Village, California, Colby Parkinson, will join the Cardinal, along with Connor Wedington, a four-star athlete from Sumner, Washington, who decommitted from Washington just weeks ago, and four-star receiver Osiris St. Brown from Santa Ana, California.
The list goes on for the Cardinal offense, as they also added four-star athlete Sione Lund from Salt Lake City, Utah, who at 6-foot-1 and 237 pounds will add to the Stanford rushing attack at the fullback position.
The 2017 class is rounded out on offense by two sons of former Stanford football players. Drew Dalman, the No. 7 center in the country and son of Chris Dalman, will join Sarell and Little on the offensive line, and tight end Tucker Fisk, son of former NFL defensive tackle and Cardinal alum Jason Fisk, will join Parkinson on the typically stellar Stanford tight end unit.
On the defensive side, the Cardinal added four-star recruit Paulson Adebo from Mansfield, Texas, along with Stuart Head to the secondary and strengthened the defensive line by landing another recruit from the SEC’s backyard in four-star defensive end Ryan Johnson from Mobile, Alabama, and adding three-star defensive tackle Dalyn-Wade Perry from Sparta, New Jersey.
Shaw also strengthened the linebacking corps for the future by landing three-star outside linebacker Levani Damuni from Millville, Utah, who will serve a two-year LDS mission before joining the Cardinal squad in 2019.
“We sought to add defensive linemen with size and pass-rush ability who can also stop the run,” Shaw said. “We needed more athleticism at linebacker and defensive back to continue to play the high-level defense we have played here for years.”
The Cardinal will be adding two 2015 signees to the team as fullback Houston Heimuli and outside linebacker Gabe Reid will be returning from their LDS missions.
Defensive end Dylan Boles from Adel, Iowa; long snapper Will Sweeney from Larkspur, California; safety Joe McGrath of San Antonio, Texas; tight end Kyle McCombs from Laguna Beach, California; and outside linebacker Thunder Keck from Northfield, New Hampshire, will also join the team as they all confirmed their enrollment at Stanford.
“We’re very excited about how this class came together,” Shaw said. “We believe we have a great group of young men who are also very good football players.”
The future looks bright for Stanford football.
Contact Sam Curry at currys ‘at’ stanford.edu