Posted on: February 1, 2012 4:54 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 6:28 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
After Jim Harbaugh left Stanford for the San Francisco 49ers following the 2010 season, there were plenty of people openly wondering about how successful the program would be, even with Andrew Luck returning for another season. The Cardinal responded to any doubters by returning to the program's second consecutive BCS bowl.
Now that Andrew Luck will be taking his talents to the NFL, there are even more doubters about what Stanford will be on the football field in the future. While we won't know for sure for another seven months, if National Signing Day is any indication, the Cardinal are going to be just fine.
Stanford put the finishing touches on one of the best recruiting classes in the country on Wednesday, a class that is currently ranked #11 in the CBS Sports National Signing Day Top 25.
Throughout the day big name recruits like Andrus Peat (pictured above in black), Aziz Shittu, Alex Carter, Kyle Murphy, Noor Davis, and Barry Sanders sent their signatures through a fax machine on their way to Palo Alto. The signatures of football players who should go on to prove that Stanford football is much more than just Andrew Luck or Jim Harbaugh.
The biggest reason this signing class will have such a positive impact on the program is because of the biggest players -- literally -- that were a part of it. The Cardinal signed six of the top offensive lineman in the country in Peat, Murphy, Joshua Garnett, Graham Shuler, Nick Davidson and Brandon Fanaika.
Stanford head coach David Shaw said his offensive line class "could be one of the best in modern football history," and I'm inclined to agree with him.
Matt Hinton of Yahoo's Dr. Saturday blog joked on Twitter Wednesday that Stanford's haul of offensive lineman was so impressive that whoever ends up playing quarterback behind it will have enough time to finish their homework while standing in the pocket. While that may be true, Stanford's identity the last few seasons, the one that has led them to BCS bowl games, has not been that of a passing team.
No, this is a squad that likes to line up their big men against yours and ram the ball down your throat with a power running game.
A tradition that should continue thanks to this newest class of offensive lineman, plus the running back skills of Barry Sanders. Yes, this Barry Sanders happens to be the son of the running back of the same name who dazzled football fans at both Oklahoma State and in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. So we know of the talent that flows in his blood.
Of course, the Cardinal didn't just pay attention to needs on offense, as it added players like defensive lineman Aziz Shittu, linebacker Noor Davis and defensive back Alex Carter. Three premiere recruits at each level of the defense. The type of defensive playmakers that are needed in a Pac-12 conference that seems ready to explore the very edges of what college offenses are capable of.
So if you were one of the people that were ready for Stanford to fall back to the 2-10 seasons of old and fade from national relevance, it looks like you're going to be waiting a bit longer.
Photo of Andrus Peat by Marc Estrada
Keep up with all the latest from National Signing Day at CBSSports.com's National Signing Day Central.