It was a heck of a run. No one can dispute that. Four straight years of double digit wins and four straight BCS bowl games is pretty damn good for any program. For Stanford? It's miraculous.
That run is coming to an end this year though. Stanford is 5-5 and in danger of not qualifying for a bowl game if they fall short against Cal in the Big Game this weekend and UCLA next week. That's a pretty steep drop off no matter how you spin it.
As disappointing as the season has been on the field, it's been as equally as disappointing in recruiting. The Cardinal currently only have nine players committed and have missed out on some top prospects like defensive lineman Canton Kaumatule, whose brother plays for Stanford, and have had decommitments from defensive tackle Rex Manu and linebacker Christian Folau.
Even though the class is desperately lacking numbers right now, they do have some very good players committed. If they end up finishing strong down the stretch, then this class can end up being a lot better than it is right now.
Instant impact commit(s)
Two players stand out to me that can make an impact right away in the conference. It might not be the obvious choice, but 3 star wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside has the skills to come in right away and contribute. He's not an explosive player like Ty Montgomery. He's a player with solid speed, a good route runner, and has great hands. He is capable of making the spectacular catch and will go up and attack the ball in the air.
Stanford is in desperate need of better quarterback play next season and if they get it, Arcega-Whiteside can help them out right away.
The other player is 4 star safety Arrington Farrar. Farrar is the highest ranked commitment in this class thus far.
As an athlete, he doesn't wow you with what he can do. He's just a heck of a football player that makes plays in coverage with his length and attacks aggressively versus the run. He's a great fit for Stanford's defense and should be someone that can get into the mix of the two-deep right off the bat.
Don't sleep on _______
3 star outside linebacker Casey Toohill is the lowest rated commitment in this class right now, but I really like his potential. Much like guys like Trent Murphy and Chase Thomas, he's a good, but not elite, athlete with the kind of length Stanford is looking for in a pass rusher. He's good at the point of attack and can set the edge versus the run. I look at him and see a perfect scheme fit for Stanford's defense.
Speaking of a scheme fit, I see the same kind of thing in 3 star inside linebacker Mustafa Branch. He's a downhill player that is extremely physical and plays bigger than his size. I think he can develop into a really good one down the line. Like I said on Pacific Takes when he committed, he's a Stanford kind of football player.
Big fish still on the reel
Stanford is still in on plenty of big time players. They have had visits from and are in the hunt for stud defensive lineman Christian Wilkins and 4 star wide receiver Trent Irwin. Those two are going to be tough to pull, but it would not be shocking to see them ultimately land in Palo Alto.
Scarlett is the kind of weapon that the Cardinal have not really had at running back. He's a player that is equally good at catching the ball and making plays in the open field as he is running the ball inside. I watched him against national power St. John Bosco earlier this year and he ran with a lot more power as a senior than I saw from him as a junior.
Buncom has been considered a Stanford lean for a long time and is similar to Farrar in terms of his mentality for the position. He's a versatile player with the instincts to play safety, but has the skills to cover like a corner too.
The players who are committed right now all fit the Stanford profile of football players. Big. Physical. Tough.
The perfect examples of that are two players I didn't mention above in offensive guard commit Nick Wilson and center commit Brian Chaffin. They are my two favorite players they have committed in this class and I think both are going to eventually develop into outstanding offensive linemen.
If David Shaw and his staff can land a good chunk of the players left on their list, then this recruiting class could go from disappointing to good rather quickly. Missing out on some players earlier is what is going to prevent this class from being as great as it could have been.