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Hogan: Duck season in Nov., Badger season in January
The value of a Stanford degree, referred to by some of the program's followers as the 40-year decision, has always attracted talented high school athletes to The Farm.
Coach Harbaugh took things up a notch, highlighted by his recruiting of Andrew Luck. That alone would elevate any college football program. But Harbaugh also relentlessly recruited linemen, tight ends, full backs and linebackers. Tall, large, fast football players who wanted to play BCS football and also benefit from a Stanford education.
Not all of these recruits were rated as 4 or 5-star players in high school, but they were athletic enough for Stanford's power running game and a defense designed to stuff the run and rush the passer.
Sometimes, as in the case of Owen Marecic (now on the Cleveland Browns), a player ended up as both a fullback and linebacker. Marecic famously scored touchdowns at Notre Dame in 2010 on both offense and defense.
Coach Shaw has continued that recruiting strategy, and the Cardinal roster is now as deep as any in the nation. In 2011, Stanford had three of the nation's top tight ends, in Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo.
This season, Stanford has enjoyed a stockpile of talent at running back that enabled Coach Shaw the luxury of redshirting heralded freshman Barry Sanders.
Nowhere was the depth on offense better illustrated this season than at quarterback. A year ago, we speculated on who might replace the amazing Andrew Luck.
Turns out, the best guy for the job, Kevin Hogan, whose physicality, athleticism and instincts were on display at Oregon and twice against UCLA, wasn't even on our radar.
He is now.