Stanford football officially formed its newest class of recruits on Wednesday, receiving National Letters of Intent from 22 high school seniors. Twenty recruits had already committed to Stanford prior to Wednesday, and the Cardinal gained two more last-minute decisions through National Signing Day announcements to round out their class.
The Cardinal’s recruiting class, which includes five four-star recruits and 16 three-star recruits according to recruiting service Scout, is ranked 25th in the nation and sixth in the Pac-12 conference behind USC, UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon and Washington. The class consists of 11 offensive players, 10 defensive players and one kicker, including five players ranked in the ESPN 300.
“With this class, we’ve been able to find, first and foremost, some of the best student-athletes we can find here at Stanford,” said head coach David Shaw. “This is a place for great students who want to play great football.”
The 22 recruits will converge on the Farm from 12 different states, with seven recruits coming from California and many coming from the East Coast, as Stanford continued to make its presence felt across the nation.
The only position that Stanford didn’t address in this recruiting cycle was quarterback, where it didn’t sign any recruits. Meanwhile, Stanford had a fantastic class of defensive backs, where it signed two four-star recruits and two three-star recruits, including cornerback Quenton Meeks and safety Justin Reid, who both committed on Wednesday. Those two, along with cornerback Frank Buncom IV and safety Ben Edwards, whom Shaw described as the hardest-hitting safety in this year’s class, could make immediate impacts on the team on a secondary that is losing several key pieces.
Stanford also picked up four linebackers in this year’s class, headlined by outside linebacker Gabe Reid, who played defensive end in high school and who has been highly praised for his pass rushing ability. He’ll be joined on the outside by Casey Toohill of San Diego, California and Jordan Fox of Plainfield, New Jersey — two prospects that already have the size to play the demanding position at the collegiate level. Inside linebacker Mustafa Branch, a unanimous top-40 player at his position, will round out the linebacker class.
The only potential weakness of this year’s class lies in the defensive line, where Stanford will be hard-pressed to reload after it loses the entirety of this season’s starting defensive line to graduation. Stanford only picked up two defensive line recruits in this cycle: three-star defensive tackle Wesley Annan and three-star strong-side defensive end Dylan Jackson, who will likely both need to bulk up before making an impact in the physical Pac-12 conference.
The defense as a whole closed on a very strong run in the recruiting campaign, particularly in the defensive backs department, likely due to the added influence of defensive backs coach Duane Akina in both the recruiting and coaching process. Shaw noted that many of the players that he and the staff recruited were sought more for how they would fit within Stanford’s system than for their prospect rankings. And given Stanford’s propensity to turn two-star or three-star defensive recruits into plus players at the collegiate level, Lance Anderson’s squad should still be in good shape moving forward.
Meanwhile, on the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver Trent Irwin from Southern California headlines a class full of solid players well suited to Stanford’s offensive system. Irwin is the highest-ranked member of Stanford’s recruiting class at No. 160 nationally in ESPN’s recruitment rankings. Irwin is also the highest-ranked wide receiver that Stanford has ever signed, having chosen Stanford over Arizona State and a bevy of other Pac-12 schools.
Irwin will be joined by three-star recruit JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who was the other starter at wide receiver on the Parade All-America team and the top wide receiver from South Carolina. Rounding out the receiving corps is Jay Tyler, who played quarterback in high school but will act as a wide receiver and kick returner at Stanford.
Stanford will also look to remain true to its power running identity with the addition of four-star running back Cameron Scarlett, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds and whom Shaw has compared to Tyler Gaffney ’14 in athleticism. The Cardinal also picked up a late commitment from four-star Bryce Love from North Carolina, who will offer a lighter running back option to complement Scarlett’s physicality.
And true to form, Stanford also recruited two fullbacks — two of the top three fullbacks in the nation, according to some recruiting metrics — in Houston Heimuli from Woods Cross, Utah and Reagan Williams from Jackson, Ohio.
Of course, none of this would be possible without replenishing the Tunnel Workers’ Union, which Stanford also did by recruiting four more offensive linemen to supplement the current depth at each position.
Three-star center Brian Chaffin headlines this position group as the eighth-ranked center in the nation and likely the next man up after current Stanford center Graham Shuler departs the school. Local kid Jack Dreyer, a monstrous 6-foot-8, 296-pound tackle from Junipero Serra High School, is also a standout in this year’s class. And guards Austin Maihen and Nick Wilson round out a class that’s not spectacular but very solid.
The final member of Stanford’s class, Jake Bailey, was a highly recruited kicker and punter — the fourth-ranked kicker in the nation — that will look to immediately factor into a competition with Conrad Ukropina and Alex Robinson for the starting role.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.