Stanford has one of the nation's very best groups of linebackers heading into the 2012 season. With potential All-Americans in seniors Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov, as well as a host of budding stars such as A.J. Tarpley, Jarek Lancaster, James Vaughters, Trent Murphy and Noor Davis, the Cardinal's front seven should prove to be dominant in the upcoming season.
On top of all the talent already on the roster, Stanford has received verbal commitments from three of the best linebacker recruits in the 2013 class. While there is, of course, plenty of time for these players to change their destination before National Signing Day, Stanford's 2013 defensive recruits look pretty good for the time being.
Going up against high powered offenses such as Oregon and USC should be a challenge for the Cardinal for years to come. However, with these three commitments, it looks like the Stanford defense is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-12 for quite some time.
So, without further ado, let's meet these three young defensive studs.
Isaac Savaiinaea is an absolute force. The inside linebacker from Punahou High School in Honolulu, Hawaii is widely considered to be the best inside linebacker in the West. Savaiinaea is considered a 4-star recruit by Rivals and a 5-star recruit by Scout.
At 6'3" and 235 pounds, Savaiinaea has a solid body and hits with tremendous power, drive and technique. He is also fast enough to return kicks for his high school. It is this all-around athleticism that allowed Savaiinaea to achieve a very impressive 110.82 SPARQ rating in February.
Watching his highlight tape, it is obvious that Savaiinaea has exceptional range and instincts at middle linebacker. He is always shedding blocks to the correct side, filling the correct gaps, and coming from the other side of the field to make stops with great closing speed and power.
It was rumored last week that he had decommitted from Stanford. However, according to ESPN.com, Savaiinaea recently confirmed that he "didn't decommit" and is only "leaving his options open."
While Stanford is set at inside linebacker for the time being with Shayne Skov, A.J. Tarpley and Jarek Lancaster, Savaiinaea should be an inside force for the Cardinal for years to come, assuming he remains committed.
Peter Kalambayi is an exceptionally strong and powerful outside linebacker. From Butler High School in North Carolina, Kalambayi is one of the most special linebacker recruits in the 2013 class.
Like Savaiinaea, Kalambayi possesses good size at 6'2" and 235 pounds that he uses to his advantage. Watching his highlight tape, his raw strength and power are quite evident, as he often blows through blocks with ease and regularly finds himself making stops in the backfield.
What he lacks in speed and quickness, Kalambayi makes up for in vision, awareness and intelligence. He reads plays well, and understands the best angles he can take to get to the ball carrier.
As an outside pass-rusher, Kalambayi also shows good discipline, making sure to hold the edge and keep outside containment. These are talents that are hard to teach, and they make him a very valuable player to have.
Though he missed part of his 2011 season due to injury, Kalambayi still recorded 79 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and six sacks.
Kalambayi is considered a 4-star recruit by both Rivals and Scout. Remember his name in years to come, as he will likely emerge as a very effective outside pass-rusher for the Cardinal throughout his career.
Doug Randolph is a true athlete and a very exciting player to watch. He seems to have his heart set on playing for the Cardinal, as he committed to Stanford over a year ago on June 25, 2011.
Randolph is considered a 4-star linebacker and ranked the 86th overall player in the 2013 recruiting class by Rivals. He is a tall, but lean player, making him a dangerous pass-rusher on the outside.
The 6'3" and 215-pound stud also has excellent speed. He is so athletic, in fact, that he plays receiver and defensive end for his high school, two positions that rarely go together.
Randolph is too small to play defensive end in college, however, so he should be a nice fit as a speedy outside linebacker in Stanford's 3-4 scheme.
He transferred from Collegiate High School after his sophomore season and spent last season at Woodberry Forest School in Richmond, Virginia.
While Randolph likely won't play right away, he should be a nice compliment to fellow linebackers Savaiinaea and Kalambayi for years to come.