Stanford Football Recruiting: Why David Shaw Will Keep His Team in the Top 25

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
Stanford Football Recruiting: Why David Shaw Will Keep His Team in the Top 25
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
David Shaw coached the Cardinal to the same 11-1 regular season record like Jim Harbaugh despite losing quite a few players to the NFL. Stanford will lose a few more in 2012.

David Shaw took Stanford Cardinal reigns from Jim Harbaugh quite smoothly in 2011. That easy transition was aided by the ability and experience of Andrew Luck, who decided to stay at Stanford for the 2011 season.

The Cardinal put quite a few other talented players on the field in 2011 as well, so their success was not only due to a great quarterback. Some analysts think there will be a drop-off next year with all the departing players. Some even think that Stanford may drop out of the Top 25 altogether. Bunk!

Jim Harbaugh turned the Cardinal around with great coaching and sharp recruiting. The coaching staff changed with some personnel going to the San Francisco 49ers; however, there were still enough coaches remaining at Stanford to keep continuity.

Harbaugh's recruiting has improved Stanford each year and Shaw is carrying on that tradition. Under Harbaugh, Stanford went 4-8 in 2007, 5-7 in 2008, 8-5 in 2009 and 12-1 in 2010. Stanford can go 12-1 again this year under Shaw.

Stanford's recruiting was not even in the Top 50 when Harbaugh took over. They jumped to 50th in 2008 followed by 20th in 2009. Considering a two-year lag in recruiting results, the improvement began to show in 2009 and 2010. A two or three-year lag is the common school of thought, although a study by Lloyd argues a one-year lag. 

Year Grade Avg. Stars National Ranking
2012 A 3.40 22nd
2011 B 3.32 22nd
2010 B 3.13 26th
2009 B 3.27 20th
2008 C 2.71 50th
2007 D 2.60 57th
This graphic from illustrates how regular season wins will generally follow a teams national recruiting rankings.

Stanford's national class recruiting ranking has improved each year since 2007 under Harbaugh and Shaw as the numbers above indicate. The class quality improvement has been a key factor in the increase.

2012 has been no exception in recruiting so far. The Cardinal have landed seven top-rated recruits. Stanford has only given out 60 percent of their scholarships this year so this class can move up the national rankings. That will undoubtedly lead to wins and the Cardinal should be challenging Oregon for the top spot in the Pac-12 North for the next two or three years. 

Total 2012 Verbals: 15

5-Star Verbals: 0

4-Star Verbals: 7

Latest Verbal: 12/21/11 OL Nick Davidson (4 stars)

Three-star players can be coached up, but more often than not, 4 and 5-star players are the "playmakers." They are usually the ones who make it into the NFL. They are the difference between a six-win or a nine-win season. But if any team can coach up a 3-star player, it is Stanford.

Stanford could finish with a 12-1 season which always helps to draw more recruits. There will be some room on offense for new players next year. RB Jeremy Stewart, WR Griff Whalen, WR Chris Owusu, TE Coby Fleener and OT Tyler Mabry are all graduating seniors. QB Andrew Luck, OT Jonathan Martin and OG David DeCastro could all come back next year, but there is a very strong probability that they will all be jumping for the NFL.

If Stanford returns four or five players on offense and defense, how many wins are probable for the team?

Submit Vote vote to see results

DE Matthew Masifilo, LB Max Bergen, CB Johnson Bademosi, S Delano Howell and S Michael Thomas will be graduating seniors on defense. In addition, LB Chase Thomas and LB Shayne Skov could be leaving for the NFL although their departure is more remote.

There will probably be four returning starters on offense and perhaps six returning starters on defense. That would be a severe impact for most teams; however, Stanford has recruited so well, they could likely be the second or third best team in the Pac-12 North next year.

Coach David Shaw will probably see eight wins in his second year.

Follow B/R on Facebook

Pac-12 Football

Subscribe Now

By signing up for our newsletter, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

Thanks for signing up.