Jim Harbaugh is credited with bringing the Cardinal football program back from the dead, as the current 49er coach compiled a record of 29-21 over his four years manning the sidelines. In Harbaugh’s last season he led Stanford to a 12-1 record and a trip to the Orange Bowl, that saw them crush the Virginia Tech Hokies 40-12. As Harbaugh departed though, his longtime offensive coordinator David Shaw would take over, and the program has continued to grow into one of the nation’s elite programs. Shaw is now 23-4 as the Cardinal head coach, which also includes consecutive trips to BCS bowl games, a first for any Stanford coach.
When current Indianapolis Colt quarterback Andrew Luck graduated , it left a pretty large void in the Cardinal offense, a hole that was seemingly plugged mid-season when freshmen Kevin Hogan took over as starter. In three games as a starter, Hogan threw for over a 1000 yards, 9 touchdowns, and just 3 interceptions, while completing a whopping 71.7% of his pass attempts. Hogan replaced Josh Nunes, who was inconsistent enough for Shaw to feel the need to give the freshman a chance, and he didn’t disappoint.
Coming off another successful season that saw a dominant Stanford defense, and an offense that that continued to grow stronger as the year progressed, Shaw and Co. found themselves in a position of strength when it came to recruiting top talent on national level. Stanford and Notre Dame struggle with the same difficulties of trying to recruit prospects who are not only athletically gifted, but understand and embrace the high academic standards set by their respective institutions. While the 2013 Cardinal recruiting class only consisted of 12 kids, there are some gems that should have an impact early and often.
Peter Kalambayi (4* LB) Matthews, NC
The 6’3 240lb linebacker has the chance to step in where Chase Thomas left off after graduation. Strong hands, quick feet, and great instincts will serve Kalambayi well, and should see him as a cornerstone of the Stanford defense in a short time.
Other Offers (18 total) Florida, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma
Eric Cotton – (3*TE) Nampa, ID
Please do not let the 3 star rating fool you, Cotton possesses the skills to succeed at this level of competition. Comes from a spread offense where he was utilized often, and succeeded just as much. If he came from a larger metropolitan area, he would been a 4 star. At 6’5 235 he is a tall target who understands how to use his size and hands.
Other Offers (7 total) Missouri, Washington St., Idaho, Harvard
Francis Owusu –(4*WR) Westlake Village, CA
Physically impressive, with tools to match. He is still raw in some areas but should learn how to compete at this level quickly. Quick off the line, and very physical, at 6’2, Owusu is expected to be a favorite target of Hogan. He possesses big hands and can grab the ball from all angles, and will be a real threat in the red zone.
Other Offers –(6 total) Wisconsin, Florida, Nebraska, Notre Dame
Jordan Cunningham(WR) – Signed with Vanderbilt Cunningham would have been a great fit for Shaw, and he knows it. The Fort Lauderdale wide-out has the ability to catch in traffic, and leave his opponent behind
Isaac Savaiinaea(LB) – Signed with UCLA Stanford thought they had a real shot with the linebacker out of Honolulu after his visit. He a physical kid, that can be explosive to the ball.
Durham Smythe(TE) – Signed with Notre Dame Obviously the Cardinal love to use their tight-ends in their offensive attack, and Smythe would have been a nice weapon to have. At 6’5 Smythe most likely would have been flexed out and used very similarly to how the Irish used Tyler Eifert.
Notre Dame and Stanford recruiting battles
While both schools deal with similarly rigid academic guidelines, surprisingly there were not a lot of kids that both schools had mutual interest in. The Irish did come out on top though, as they grabbed 5 of the 7 kids that had offers from both schools.
We would be remised if we didn’t mention the epic battle that took place in South Bend between these squads in 2012. It produced arguably one of the greatest goal-line stands in Notre Dame history and will be talked about for years to come.
While 2013 may be a different year, both teams look to be very solid again. Hogan should continue to prosper behind center, and while running-back may be a question, many feel they will be fine as they trot out a former Orange County Register’s High School Running Back of the Decade, Anthony Wilkerson.
Stanford has a lot of depth and experience coming back, and were able to add some very nice pieces in the 2013 recruiting class. This game has the potential to the Notre Dames most difficult challenge of the year, and this time it’s in their house. The two teams meet on November 30th, and it is the last regular season games for both schools. It has the potential to be a top 5 match-up of undefeated teams, and Fox Sports has acquired the rights to broadcast the game.