Stanford was blessed with a couple of great seasons thanks to quarterback Andrew Luck leading the way, but he is no longer on the roster. In fact, Stanford will spend this entire offseason trying to fill the holes that several players left on both sides of the ball.
Good news is that they've had the entire spring to try and answer some of these questions, and they will have another opportunity when the spring game kicks off on April 14. The Cardinal are going to need many players to take their game to the next level in order to experience even close to the same success they had last season.
Here are three players who have stepped up in the spring and may become "X" factors once September rolls around.
Stanford lost five key members of the offense, including a tight end and a couple of wide receivers. That's why the emergence of wide receiver Drew Terrell is huge. He's only caught 11 passes for 94 yards and only one touchdown in three years, but he's had a terrific spring.
"Drew has had a very good camp so far," said head coach David Shaw. "He's mastering the offense. We can put him anywhere and know he'll catch the ball and do the right thing - kind of like Griff Whalen last year. He's also our best physical blocker."
Terrell could end up having his best season to date for Stanford, especially with their top three receivers from a year ago no longer on the roster.
One of the key players on the defensive side of the ball for the Cardinal this season is the sophomore cornerback Wayne Lyons. He missed a majority of last season due to foot surgery, but he is back on the field and the head coach is holding him to extremely high expectations.
"Before it's all said and done, he'll be up for the (Thorpe Award) for the best defensive back in the nation," coach David Shaw said.
We know he's a very talented player considering he was a 4-star recruit in the 2011 class, but he must be doing something right in practice to get David Shaw to say something that bold. Although he may not be completely healthy in the spring, he has the coaches extremely excited about the season.
"Wayne is playing at about 85 percent," said Shaw. "He's so competitive and is just one of those defensive backs who finds the ball, either stripping it, getting a tip or an interception. We're excited to see him play an entire season this year."
While Stanford has kept the majority of their spring practices under wraps, David Shaw just couldn't keep his mouth shut about Kelsey Young:
He's a great athlete. He could play corner, he could play safety, he could play running back, he could play receiver. Possibly in the return game. What we're going to do is make sure he has some kind of package.
It's not clear where Young will be used in the offense, but with his speed and versatility, he is for sure a much-needed playmaker in the Pac-12.
Young is a 4-star recruit from the 2010 class and was recruited as a running back. He has a great combination of speed and power and should be a fun player to watch this season.