Sam Roush has already taken classes at Stanford for two quarters. He’s gone through the struggles of PWR and THINK and figured out which Arillaga around campus is which. He’s even played in a football game for the Cardinal. But his official freshman year still hasn’t begun.
In winter quarter of 2021, Roush was one of three players on the Stanford football team to get a jumpstart on their collegiate career and enroll at Stanford. One year after Stanford’s first-ever group of early enrollment student-athletes arrived on the Farm, making Stanford the last non-service academy FBS school to allow early enrollees, Roush was joined by David Bailey and Mudia Reuben, making a trio that has gained serious praise from the coaching staff.
“These guys have come in and done extremely well academically, which is first and foremost. We wanted to make sure they had the opportunity to come in early and have success academically,” Shaw said of the early enrollee class. “And coming in spring also gave them the opportunity to get ahead football wise. And now [they’re] three guys that are true freshmen [but] don’t feel like freshmen. They don’t feel like freshmen. They don’t look like freshmen.”
After hearing about it from older friends arriving onto the college football scene themselves, the early enrollee process made perfect sense for Roush, who was just 30 minutes south in San Jose at the time of his commitment before moving to Nashville, Tenn. for the end of high school.
“I liked the idea of getting a head start, going early,” he said. “I was just really stoked to get there early, meet the team and get prepared for the season.”
Roush arrived on The Farm and was immediately able to take advantage of the early enrollee program. Despite falling in an in-between category — he has yet to experience NSO or freshman fall, but the Class of 2025 was still barely getting settled in by the time of his arrival — he has enjoyed a warm welcome. In his first two quarters, Roush was able to get ahead athletically and academically. As many Stanford newcomers find out, however, the latter was more challenging than anticipated.
“I knew it was going to be difficult but I just didn’t really process it,” Roush said. “So coming in, after about a week I realized I was gonna have to do a lot more work than I did in high school.
Although he felt the challenge, Roush still exceeded in the classroom. Earning strong grades in a winter quarter courseload that included the dreaded PWR, he took on a more difficult set of classes in the spring — and still succeeded. As he does on the field, Roush adjusted quickly. And with a grasp on academics, the tight end has been able to avert more attention to football.
Nine months after stepping foot on campus as an official student, Roush still bears the freshman title. But as the coaching staff has alluded to, he’s shown no indication of playing like one.
Particularly in the spring football game, where he showed a rapport with Stanford’s quarterbacks and hauled in a touchdown, the four-star recruit showed his potential to be the next great Stanford tight end. The position at Stanford, which has bred NFL talent like Zach Ertz and Dalton Schultz, is one that Roush does not take lightly.
“It was definitely a big part of my decision making,” Roush said about Stanford’s reputation for producing tight end talent. “I didn’t come to Stanford just because of great academics and it’s a great football school, but I knew if that if I was good enough, then they were be able to use me well as a tight end.“
However, Roush enters a crowded tight end room. The freshman is just one of six players rostered at the position, and the team has secured commitments from two four-star tight ends for next year. Nonetheless, Roush views the competition as a positive.
“At the end of the day, we’re all gonna push each other and get better,” he said. “It’s not just about being better than the guy next to you, but it’s about being good enough to play on the offense and make contributions.”
The rest of the Class of 2026 will join him on The Farm in just a couple weeks. But in the meantime, Roush hopes to add to the team’s efforts to turn things around this fall after turning in a 3-9 season last year. And after Saturday’s 41-10 win, things are looking good for the Cardinal.
“I feel like we’re on a great path. I think everybody’s working hard and we’re going to be able to do something great this year.”