For even the most diehard of Dallas Cowboy fans, the name Isaiah Stanback is still a bit of a mystery.
What is known of Stanback is that he played in the Pac-10 conference as a QB for the Washington Huskies. He's got a cannon of a throwing arm, speed, quick feet, a certain "it" factor, and is dripping with potential.
However, in the two seasons since being selected as the 103rd player overall in the 2007 draft, fans have yet to see more than just a few glimpses of production over promise.
Injury has played a large role in keeping Stanback off the field. His rookie year amounted to a red shirt season, as a lingering foot injury (Lisfranc) kept him from challenging for playing time.
In 2008, the injury bug continued to plague Stanback as he suffered a chronically dislocated shoulder that kept him from seeing the playing field on a regular basis.
Tom Landry was known for his "three year" player evaluation rule, which essentially said that if a player hasn't shown you anything by year three, it's probably not going happen.
Jerry and company will be hoping Stanback shows significant improvement, as he enters into his third season with the Cowboys.
A faint endorsement of Stanback could be inferred by the fact that Dallas decided to go against conventional wisdom and opted not to draft a wide receiver high. They did, in fact, draft a wide receiver when they selected Oklahoma's Manuel Johnson with the their last pick in the seventh round. But Johnson is hardly expected to come in and take a receiving spot from the incumbents.
Stanback's time is now.
He's a tremendous physical specimen, standing at 6'2", 210 lbs of lean muscle. What intrigued Cowboys' GM Jerry Jones and director of scouting, Tom Ciskowski, the most though, was what Stanback could do with the ball once it was in his hands.
Stanback possesses fluid hips which allow him to change direction without losing much speed. It's that speed which is Stanback's game.
His rather pedestrian forty time (4.6) prior to the draft might fool some who just take a cursory look at scouting reports. Stanback was still in the early stages of recovering from his foot surgery, when he decided to run for scouts. Those in the know will refer you to his game tapes as a Huskie when he was deftly dodging and running past would-be tacklers as a QB.
Without stating the obvious, his development and performance in this upcoming training camp will be crucial to his future with the Cowboys.
The Cowboys will be looking for him to put his considerable talents into a useful package that can contribute on the field this season.