Stanford signs 12 to National Letters of Intent

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(Below is Stanford’s press release on the players added as part of its 2013 recruiting class.)

STANFORD, Calif. – Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football David Shaw announced today the members of the 12-man 2013 recruiting class who have officially signed their National Letter of Intent and Financial Aid Agreement to play football at Stanford University.

“When you look at our 2013 class, you will see size. You will see athleticism. You will see toughness,” said Shaw, the two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year. “We made it a point in this class to find tight ends and linebackers who can physically do what we need, and we’re excited about the guys we found.”

A class mirroring Stanford’s on-field prowess built upon big athletes, today’s signees average 6’4” and 235 pounds. That comes in a class with no defensive linemen and just two offensive linemen.

The 12 newest Cardinal hail from eight different states. Five come from California, plus one each from Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah and Virginia.

While the number of available scholarships due to a small graduating senior class limited the size of Stanford’s recruiting class, the quality stands strong. As of the completion of today’s final signing, the 2013 Cardinal class ranked 16th in the nation for average player rating and 17th by 247Sports.com.

Among Stanford’s 12 signees, five were named PrepStar All-Americans and five were members of the ESPN 300. Nine of the 12 members of Stanford’s 2013 signing class were rated at least four stars by various recruiting services, including two five-star selections. Nine signees were also selected to play in an All-American game, while 10 were ranked top-25 in the nation at their respective positions by various services.

Seven of these signees are slated for offense – three tight ends, two offensive linemen, a quarterback and a wide receiver – with a quartet on defense – two each at outside linebacker and inside linebacker. One player is listed on both sides of the ball at wide receiver / cornerback. Following several successful recruiting classes at the positions, Stanford passed on signing a running back or defensive lineman for 2013.

“Offensively, we believe that we’ve added exciting firepower,” said Shaw. “Ryan Burns is a big, athletic, strong-armed quarterback, and he is joined by Francis Owusu, who is one of the most explosive wide receivers in the nation. Up front, we have added two physical, aggressive and versatile offensive linemen who fit our style and temperament of play.

“People have asked me the last few years, ‘Where do you find those tight ends?’ We believe that we have three guys in this class who can be as productive in the running game and passing game as Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo were for us.”

Stanford’s three-man tight end haul is a leading strength of the 2013 signing class. Austin Hooper (San Ramon, Calif./De La Salle HS) is a First-Team All-State two-way standout, captain of the CIF Open Division State Champions and No. 1 ranked team in the nation. Greg Taboada (Atlanta, Ga./Marist HS) also earned First-Team All-State honors and was ranked the 167th overall prospect in the nation and 18th overall player in Georgia by ESPN.com. A talented receiving threat and athlete in the mold of Ertz, Eric Cotton (Nampa, Idaho/Columbia HS) may be a sleeper in this class, unranked in any category by Rivals.com and holding one other Pac-12 scholarship offer, though ranked 227th overall in the nation and first overall in Idaho by 247Sports.com.

The Cardinal signed one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Ryan Burns (Leesburg, Va./Stone Bridge HS), a PrepStar Dream Team selection and U.S. Army All-American who can throw and run at 6’5” and 225 pounds. Burns came to the forefront of Stanford’s recruiting in the summer of 2011, when he thrilled at the Cardinal’s Quarterback Academy camp. He ranked top-six in the nation among pro-style quarterbacks in the 2013 class by PrepStar, ESPN.com and Rivals.com.

A familiar name to Stanford, wide receiver Francis Owusu (Oxnard, Calif./Oaks Christian School) is the younger brother of former Cardinal wideout Chris Owusu (2008-11), now playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The younger Owusu is a taller version at 6’3” who broke his high school’s receiving records and ranked among the top 20 wide receivers in the nation by PrepStar and Rivals.com.

A year after signing what was hailed as the top offensive line recruiting class in the history of college football, Stanford selectively and patiently targeted versatile and athletic linemen to fit the Cardinal’s culture. Both were found in Southern California, after standout performances at Stanford’s summer camps. David Bright (Yorba Linda, Calif./Mater Dei HS) can play tackle or guard and rated as a PrepStar All-American. Thomas Oser (Los Angeles, Calif./Harvard-Westlake School) is an experienced center ranked 11th in the nation by 247Sports.com who can also play offensive guard.

“Defensively, with the depth of young talent in the defensive backfield and the returning strength of our defensive line, we’ve added four linebackers in this class who can run and hit and play the aggressive style of defense for which Stanford has come to be known,” said Shaw. “Each of these linebackers has unique abilities in pass rush and in coverage, and they will add to the strength and depth of our front seven.”

Outside linebacker Peter Kalambayi (Matthews, N.C./Butler HS) is one of the most decorated players in the nation, earning First-Team All-American honors by USA Today, selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and one of five finalists for the high school Butkus Award. Kalambayi is ranked top-100 among all players in the nation by PrepStar and Rivals.com and consensus top-10 nationally at various linebacker positions. He is joined by Mike Tyler (Brecksville, Ohio/Brecksville-Broadview Heights HS), an All-Ohio performer who recorded 18 sacks his senior season.

Kevin Palma (Pixley, Calif./Mission Oak HS) is ranked the 10th best middle linebacker in the nation and 196th overall player by Scout.com. He earned First-Team All-State honors following a senior season that saw him record 19 tackles for loss including a school-record eight in one game. Paired at inside linebacker in this class is Sean Barton (North Salt Lake, Utah/Woods Cross HS), a PrepStar All-American and consensus top-three player in Utah who played myriad positions on both sides of the ball. Barton totaled 43 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 receiving yards on offense plus more than 200 tackles and 36 tackles for loss on defense in his career but will wait until 2015 to enroll at Stanford University, following his two-year LDS church mission in Africa.

Three-way threat Taijuan Thomas (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish HS) has prospects at both wide receiver and cornerback plus special teams for Stanford, with demonstrated track speed and playmaking football ability that earned him top-35 prospect rankings in Louisiana by ESPN.com and Rivals.com and Honorable Mention All-State honors.

“Taijuan Thomas is one of those explosive athletes who could help us on offense, defense and special teams,” said Shaw. “We can’t wait for his playmaking ability to impact our team.”

For detailed bios and highlight videos on all 12 Stanford Class of 2013 signees, visit SigningDay Central.

The Cardinal kicks off spring practices in less than three weeks on Feb. 25, with the Cardinal & White Spring Game returning to Stanford Stadium – for the first time since 2009 – on April 13 at 3pm.

2013 Stanford National Letter of Intent Signing Class

* PrepStar All-Americans (5): ILB Sean Barton, OG/OT David Bright, QB Ryan Burns, OLB Peter Kalambayi, WR Francis Owusu

* USA Today All-American (1): OLB Peter Kalambayi

* ESPN 300 (5): QB Ryan Burns, TE Austin Hooper, OLB Peter Kalambayi, WR Francis Owusu, TE Greg Taboada

* Scout 300 (3): OLB Peter Kalambayi, WR Francis Owusu, ILB Kevin Palma

* Rivals 250 (3): QB Ryan Burns, OLB Peter Kalambayi, WR Francis Owusu

* 247Sports 247 (4): QB Ryan Burns, TE Eric Cotton, OLB Peter Kalambayi, ILB Kevin Palma

* Tacoma News Tribune Western 100: ILB Sean Barton, TE Eric Cotton, TE Austin Hooper, WR Francis Owusu, ILB Kevin Palma

* U.S. Army All-American Bowl selections (2): QB Ryan Burns, OLB Peter Kalambayi

* Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl selections (4): ILB Sean Barton, TE Austin Hooper, OG/C Thomas Oser, WR Francis Owusu

* Offense-Defense All-American Bowl selections (3): ILB Sean Barton, ILB Kevin Palma, TE Greg Taboada

* International Bowl selection by Team USA (1): TE Eric Cotton

Barton, Sean … ILB … 6-3 … 220 … North Salt Lake, Utah … Woods Cross HS
Bright, David … OT/OG … 6-5 … 290 … Yorba Linda, Calif. … Mater Dei HS
Burns, Ryan … QB … 6-5 … 225 … Leesburg, Va. … Stone Bridge HS
Cotton, Eric … TE … 6-6 … 235 … Nampa, Idaho … Columbia HS
Hooper, Austin … TE … 6-4 … 245 … San Ramon, Calif. … De La Salle HS
Kalambayi, Peter … OLB … 6-3 … 240 … Matthews, N.C. … Butler HS
Oser, Thomas … OG/C … 6-5 290 … Los Angeles, Calif. … Harvard-Westlake School
Owusu, Francis … WR … 6-3 … 193 … Oxnard, Calif. … Oaks Christian School
Palma, Kevin … ILB … 6-2 240 … Pixley, Calif. … Mission Oak HS
Taboada, Greg … TE … 6-5 … 235 … Atlanta, Ga. … Marist HS
Thomas, Taijuan … WR/CB … 5-10 … 185 … Monroe, La. … Ouachita Parish HS
Tyler, Mike … OLB … 6-5 … 225 … Brecksville, Ohio … Brecksville-Broadview Heights HS

BYU RBs coach AJ Steward takes same job at Arizona

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The revamping of Kevin Sumlin’s Arizona football coaching staff continued late last week. This time, though, the revamping is on the offensive side of the ball.

Friday, the Wildcats announced that AJ Steward (pictured) has been hired by Sumlin as running backs coach. Steward will replace DeMarco Murray, who left earlier this month to take the same job at his alma mater Oklahoma.

At 29, Steward will be the youngest member of Sumlin’s staff. The 32-year-old Murray had previously held that title.

“We couldn’t be happier to be welcoming AJ to the Arizona Football Family,” the Arizona football head coach said in a statement. “AJ brings a work ethic and experience that will impact the development of our student-athletes in a very positive way. His passion for the game, passion for making a difference and his recruiting background make him a great fit for our staff.“

The past two seasons, Steward was the running backs coach at BYU. Prior to that, Steward had served in the same capacity at Rice for three years (2014-17).

Steward, who played his college football at Kansas, began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Rice in 2012-13.

“My wife Virginia and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to come to Tucson and make the University of Arizona our home,” Steward said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to continue my coaching career under someone like Coach Sumlin, and I can’t wait to get to work with our young men!”

Four-star 2017 DB Deon Jones tweets transfer from Maryland

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A once highly-touted member of the Maryland football program is on his way out. Probably.

Late last week, Deon Jones took to Twitter to announce that he has decided to enter his name into the NCAA transfer database, the first step in a likely move away from Maryland football. According to the defensive back, he will graduate from the university in May.

Not only will he be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school in 2020, he will have another season of eligibility he can use in 2021 as well.

“I will forever be a TERP and I cannot thank this university enough for all of the opportunities they have afforded me over the past 3 years,” Jones wrote.

A four-star member of the Terrapins’ 2017 recruiting class, Jones was rated as the No. 3 player in the state of Maryland regardless of position. Only one signee in the Terps’ class that year, running back Anthony McFarland, was rated higher than Jones.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Jones appeared in 21 games the past two seasons. He started six of those contests, with all six of those starts coming this past season.

Jones will finish his time with Maryland football with 51 tackles, two forced fumbles, one tackle for loss and one pass defensed.

More than a dozen players have left the Maryland football program since last season began, including a pair of quarterbacks.

Ex-Wisconsin WR Marcus Randle El arrested, charged in double homicide

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A former member of the Wisconsin football program is at the center of a very sad and disturbing situation that began developing early last week.

According to multiple media outlets, Marcus Randle El turned himself in to police in Chicago Saturday afternoon after a warrant for his arrest had been issued in connection to a double murder in Janesville, Wisconsin. The 33-year-old Randel El is facing two counts of first-degree intentional homicide.

From the NBC television affiliate in Madison, WI:

Early Monday morning, 30-year-old Seairaha Winchester and 27-year-old Brittany McAdory were found shot near the intersection of Midvale Drive and Deerfield Drive in Janesville. They were taken to a hospital where they died.

During the news conference announcing the arrest, Lt. Charles Aagaard said investigators recovered video footage confirmed Winchester and McAdory went to the T.A. Express gas station around 2 a.m. that morning and left the store in McAdory’s black Jeep Cherokee. Investigators say their evidence indicates they planned to meet with Randle El, who was also in the area.

A little more than an hour later, a passing motorist spotted the victims lying in the road, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, Aagaard explained. They were both taken to Mercy Hospital for treatment where they both later died as a result of their injuries.

According to police, a murder weapon hasn’t yet been recovered.  Randle El has also denied responsibility for the murders.

From 2004-07, Randle El, whose brother, Antwaan Randle El, was a star quarterback at Indiana, played wide receiver for the Wisconsin football program.  He caught four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown during his time with the Badgers.  He also ran for another 29 yards on 11 carries as well.

Randle El also has an extensive criminal history dating back to his time as a member of the Wisconsin football team.  In 2005, he was arrested twice — once on a battery charge involving a female and another incident of battery involving a teammate.  In 2018, he finished serving what was originally a six-year sentence after allegedly kidnapping his three-year daughter at gunpoint.

Antwaan Randle El, incidentally, is entering his second year as an offensive assistant for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Vanderbilt QB Mo Hasan tweets transfer to USC

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For Mo Hasan, the quarterback is hoping that USC football, his fourth school, will be the charm.

In December, Hasan took the first step in transferring from Vanderbilt by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database. Nearly two months later, Hasan took to Twitter to make the surprising announcement that he has decided to transfer to USC football and continue his collegiate playing career with the Trojans.

The 2020 season will serve as the graduate transfer’s final year of eligibility.

Hasan, who began his career at Syracuse as a walk-on, came to Vandy from Coffeyville Community College in 2018.  His first season with the Commodores, the Florida native played in five games.  This past season, he played in two, including his first career start. That start, though, proved to be his last appearance as Hasan suffered a concussion in the Missouri loss and missed the last five games.

In his seven appearances, Hasan completed 11-of-17 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown.  He also ran for 79 yards on 16 carries.

In Nashville, Hasan will likely be missed most, though, off the field.

Hasan, a Miami native, also gained national exposure for spearheading Second Spoon, a non-profit organization that distributes extra food from the athletes’ dining hall to the homeless living on Nashville’s streets. He appeared on various national TV programs to promote Second Spoon, including NBC’s Today Show.

Given the makeup of the quarterback room, Hasan’s decision to transfer to USC football is surprising. To say the least.

JT Daniels, who opened the 2019 season as the starter before suffering a torn ACL after starting in 2018, and Kedon Slovis, who replaced Daniels and went on to set a slew of school records as a true freshman, both return in 2020 (probably). Fifth-year senior Matt Fink, who started in place of a concussed Slovis in one game last season, is expected to return as well.

Fink, though, flirted with a transfer to Illinois in the spring of last year. The quarterback ultimately opted to remain with USC football. Obviously, a move away from the Trojans at some point before the 2020 campaign kicks off on Fink’s part is not out of the equation.

For what it’s worth, Daniels’ dad stated in December that his son has no intention of transferring from USC football.