Levine Toilolo

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

Record number of underclassmen enter NFL draft

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We’ve been keeping track of underclassmen who have declared for this year’s NFL draft. This morning, the NFL released its list of 73 underclassmen who have been granted “special eligibility” for the draft by being at least three years removed from high school before declaring.

That number is a new record, breaking the one held in 2012 with 65 underclassmen declaring. In 2011, 56 players left early and 53 took off in 2010. In fact, the 73 who declared this year is 30 more than in 2004.

Of the 73 players, 33 come from SEC schools, or began their careers at SEC schools. That’s far and away the most of any conference. LSU has 11 underclassmen with ties to the program represented.

You can view the NFL’s release HEREbut here’s the alphabetized list.

Keenan Allen WR, California
David Amerson DB, North Carolina State
Alvin Bailey G, Arkansas
Stedman Bailey WR, West Virginia
David Bakhtiari T, Colorado
Dwayne Beckford LB, Purdue
Le’Veon Bell RB, Michigan State
Giovani Bernard RB, North Carolina
Tyler Bray QB,Tennessee
Terrence Brown DB, Stanford
Duron Carter WR, Ohio State
Knile Davis RB, Arkansas
Mike Edwards DB, Hawaii
Matt Elam DB, Florida
Zach Ertz TE, Stanford
Gavin Escobar TE, San Diego State
Chris Faulk T, Louisiana State
Sharrif Floyd DT, Florida
Michael Ford RB, Louisiana State
Travis Frederick C, Wisconsin
Kwame Geathers NT, Georgia
William Gholston DE, Michigan State
Johnathan Hankins DT, Ohio State
Jajuan Harley DB, Middle Tennessee
DeAndre HopkinsWR, Clemson
Justin Hunter WR, Tennessee
Jawan Jamison RB, Rutgers
Stefphon Jefferson RB, Nevada
Tony Jefferson DB, Oklahoma
Jelani Jenkins LB, Florida
Luke Joeckel T, Texas A&M
Jarvis Jones LB, Georgia
Jose Jose DT, Central Florida
Joe Kruger DE, Utah
Eddie Lacy RB, Alabama
Marcus Lattimore RB, South Carolina
Corey Lemonier DE, Auburn
Bennie Logan DT, Louisiana State
Stansly Maponga DE, Texas Christian
Tyrann Mathieu DB, Louisiana State
Dee Milliner DB, Alabama
Barkevious Mingo DE, Louisiana State
Kevin Minter LB, Louisiana State
Sam Montgomery DE, Louisiana State
Brandon Moore DT, Texas
Damontre Moore DE, Texas A&M
Alec Ogletree LB, Georgia
Cordarrelle Patterson WR, Tennessee
Bradley Randle RB, Nevada-Las Vegas
Joseph Randle RB, Oklahoma State
Jordan Reed TE, Florida
Eric Reid DB, Louisiana State
Greg Reid DB, Florida State
Xavier Rhodes DB, Florida State
Sheldon Richardson DT, Missouri
Nickell Robey DB, Southern California
Logan Ryan DB, Rutgers
Ace Sanders WR, South Carolina
Darrington Sentimore DT, Tennessee
Tharold Simon DB, Louisiana State
Dion Sims TE, Michigan State
Akeem Spence DT, Illinois
Kenny Stills WR, Oklahoma
Levine Toilolo TE, Stanford
Spencer Ware RB, Louisiana State
Menelik Watson T, Florida State
Bjoern Werner DE, Florida State
Steve Williams DB, California
Marquess Wilson WR, Washington State
Brad Wing P, Louisiana State
Cierre Wood RB, Notre Dame
Robert Woods WR, Southern California
Tom Wort LB, Oklahoma

Stanford loses CB Terrence Brown to the NFL, too

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Hey, at least it’s not a tight end, right?

After losing two players from that position the day before, Stanford announced Tuesday that cornerback Terrence Brown is foregoing his final season of eligibility to apply for early entry into the April NFL draft.  Brown will earn his degree this spring after four years at the school.

“I have decided to forgo my final season at Stanford and make myself eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft,” Brown said in a statement posted on the school’s Facebook page. “I would like to thank the entire Stanford Football program, especially Coach Shaw and Coach Mason, for helping to put me in this position. My admission to Stanford University in 2009 was a life-changing event for me, and all of the faculty, students and staff I have met since have truly blessed and enriched me. I will forever and always be a Cardinal. The past four years have been a great experience for me at Stanford, and I feel well prepared to move on to the next level.

“I am on track to graduate from Stanford University in June with my degree in Science, Technology & Society and feel excited to move on to the next chapter of my life. I would like to thank my family for supporting me throughout my college career, and to thank God for blessing me with my talent and opportunity.”

Brown started all 14 games this season, and 23 the past two years.  He was named honorable mention All-Pac-12 following the 2012 season.

Monday, tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo announced they were leaving early for the NFL as well.

Another Stanford TE takes off to NFL

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Earlier today, Stanford tight end Zach Ertz announced that he was leaving school early.  A short time later, a tight end teammate followed suit.

The Cardinal announced in a Facebook posting of all things that junior Levine Toilolo has decided to make himself available for the upcoming draft.  Toilolo was fourth on the team in receptions (24), third in receiving yards (393) and tied for second in receiving touchdowns (four).

Here’s Toilolo’s full statement on his departure:

After much thought, prayer, and discussion with my family, I have decided to forego my senior season of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. It has been a tremendous honor to be a part of this team and University for the past four years. Academics are a great priority for a Stanford man, and I take great pride in being on track to graduate from Stanford University in June.

I would like to thank all of the coaches and staff who have shaped me as both a person and a player, allowing me to be in this position. Writing this brief sentiment has caused me to realize how much I will truly miss this extraordinary University, and more importantly the people here – including the professors, students and fans. I will forever cherish the memories I have made with my friends and teammates, and I thank you all for making my time here special.

To all of my teammates, I wish you all the best of luck next season, and I look forward to being able to cheer for you guys during the National Championship Game!

2012-13 Underclassmen Draft Declarations Tracker

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In an effort to keep all of the underclassmen declarations in one handy, easy-to-find location, we’ve created this page and will update it as the official word comes down that a player is leaving collegiate eligibility on the table and making the early leap to the NFL. The deadline for draft-eligible players to officially file their paperwork with the NFL is January 15.

Last year, a record 65 draft-eligible underclassmen left school early.  That shattered the record of 56 set the previous season.

So, without further ado, on to the tracker…

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Tyler Bray, Tennessee (1/4/2013)
Kyle Padron, Eastern Washington (1/13/2013)

RUNNING BACKS (11)

Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State (1/3/2013)
Giovani Bernard
***
, North Carolina (12/14/2012)
Knile Davis
**
, Arkansas (12/12/2012)
Michael Ford**, LSU (1/7/2013)
Jawan Jamison***, Rutgers (1/5/2013)
Stefphon Jefferson**, Nevada (12/31/2012)
Eddie Lacy**, Alabama (1/11/2013)
Marcus Lattimore
, South Carolina (12/12/2012)
Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State (1/10/2013)
Spencer Ware, LSU (1/4/2013)
Cierre Wood**, Notre Dame (1/14/2013)

WIDE RECEIVERS (12)

Keenan Allen, Cal (12/6/2012)
Stedman Bailey**, West Virginia (12/17/2012)
Josh Boyce**, TCU (1/9/2013)
DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson (1/10/2013)
Justin Hunter, Tennessee (12/17/2012)
Brandon Kaufman, Eastern Washington (1/13/2013)
Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee (1/9/2013)
Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech (12/13/2012)
Ace Sanders, South Carolina (1/15/2013)
Kenny Stills, Oklahoma (1/7/2013)
Marquess Wilson, Washington State (1/11/2013)
Robert Woods, USC (12/31/2012)

TIGHT ENDS (6)

Tyler Eifert**, Notre Dame (1/8/2013)
Zach Ertz
**
, Stanford (1/7/2013)
Gavin Escobar
**
, San Diego State (1/7/2013)
Jordan Reed
**
, Florida (1/4/2013)
Dion Sims
**, Michigan State (1/3/2013)
Levine Toilolo**, Stanford (1/7/2013)

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Alvin Bailey**, Arkansas ((12/20/2012)
David Bakhtiari
**
, Colorado (1/9/2013)
Chris Faulk**, LSU (1/9/2013)
D.J. Fluker**, Alabama (1/11/2013)
Travis Frederick
**
, Wisconsin (1/5/2013)
Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M (1/8/2013)
Justin Pugh
**, Syracuse (1/3/2013)
Menelik Watson, Florida State (1/8/2013)
Tom Wort**, Oklahoma (1/9/2013)

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (17)

Sharrif Floyd, Florida (1/3/2013)
Kwame Geathers**, Georgia (1/9/2013)
William Gholston, Michigan State (1/5/2013)
Johnathan Hankins
, Ohio State (12/10/2012)
Brandon Jenkins
**
, Florida State (11/20/2012)
Joe Kruger, Utah (1/2/2013)
Corey Lemonier, Auburn (12/31/2012)
Bennie Logan**, LSU (1/7/2013)
Barkevious Mingo**, LSU (1/7/2013)
Sam Montgomery**, LSU (1/7/2013)
Brandon Moore, Texas (1/11/2013)
Damontre Moore, Texas A&M (12/30/2012)
Sheldon Richardson**, Missouri (11/30/2012)
Darrington Sentimore, Tennessee (1/9/2013)
Akeem Spence**, Illinois (12/21/2012)
Stansly Maponga**, (1/15/2013)
Bjoern Werner, Florida State (1/3/2013)

LINEBACKERS (4)

Jelani Jenkins**, Florida (1/7/2013)
Jarvis Jones
**
, Georgia (1/4/2013)
Kevin Minter
**
, LSU (1/3/2013)
Alec Ogletree
, Georgia (1/1/2013)

DEFENSIVE BACKS (13)

David Amerson, North Carolina State (1/5/2013)
Terrence Brown
**
, Stanford (1/8/2013)
Mike Edwards
**
, Hawaii (1/2/2013)
Matt Elam, Florida (1/3/2013)
Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma (1/7/2013)
Tyrann Mathieu
*
, formerly of LSU (11/29/2012)
Dee Milliner, Alabama (1/11/2013)
Eric Reid, LSU (1/4/2013)
Xavier Rhodes**, Florida State (1/2/2012)
Nickell Robey, USC 1/13/2013)
Logan Ryan**, Rutgers (12/31/2012)
Tharold Simon, LSU (1/4/2013)
Steve Williams**, Cal (1/8/2013)

PUNTERS/KICKERS (1)

Brad Wing***, LSU (1/4/2013)

(*Mathieu was dismissed by LSU and did not play his true junior season in 2012)
(**denotes fourth-year junior)
(***denotes third-year sophomore)