February 3, 1999
STANFORD, Calif. - Sixteen high school student-athletes today signed national letters-of-intent to enroll at Stanford University in the Fall of 1999 and join the Cardinal football program.
Head coach Tyrone Willingham, now in his fifth season at the helm, not only recruited student-athletes on a national basis, but this time the Stanford football program went international, signing two of the top players from Canada. As usual, Stanford's recruiting class came from across the nation as the 16-member class includes players from two countries and 11 states. Only two players came from California.
"What's impressive about this class is that opposing coaches across the country have spoken highly of these young men and felt that these were some of the most highly sought-after recruits in the nation," said Willingham. "What that tells us at Stanford is that we've done a good job with the young men we're adding to our program.
"It is always our desire to judge a recruiting class once they hit the field at Stanford," he continued. "But, it's always impressive to have others say so many positive things about the class. We fought hard to get these young men to Stanford. They were recruited by the likes of Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan, Arizona, Notre Dame and some of the other top programs in the country.
"Overall, we're very pleased with the quality of student-athlete we're bringing to the Stanford football program," said Wilingham.
Indeed most analysts have Stanford's recruiting class among the nation's top-20 and among the best in the Pac-10 Conference. Although small in size with just 16 recruits, 13 were named prep All-Americas and several are considered to be among the best at their position in the nation. By position, Stanford added eight offensive players (two running backs, three lineman, QB, TE, WR), six defensive players (three lineman, two linebackers, CB) and two who may play on either side of the ball.
One of the most honored players in the country is quarterback Chris Lewis from Long Beach Poly High School. Lewis, whose sister Robyn is a member of the Cardinal volleyball team, was not only a consensus All-America, but he was also named the Gatorade National Player of the Year. He threw for 3,170 yards and 43 TDs a year ago and set a new California state prep record by throwing 107 TD passes in his career.
"In Chris Lewis, we have added an outstanding player with tremendous stature, skill and poise for a young quarterback," said Willingham of the 6-3, 205 pound Lewis.
Stanford also added one of the top running backs - and one of the best in all of Canada - in Kerry Carter. Carter, who along with Louis Hobson are believed to be the first Canadian players recruited by Stanford, is a 6-2,225 pound running back who helps fill an immediate need for the Cardinal. He was ranked among the top-35 prep players and among the top-five running backs.
"We felt that with this class we had to go out and get some help at the running back position," said Willingham, who also added Justin Faust from Arlington, Tex. "We think that with Kerry Carter and Justin Faust, we've added to the skill level at the running back position."
Carter, from Vaughn, Ontario, and Hobson, from Toronto, were considered to be among the top five players in Canada. Hobson is a 6-3, 230 pound defensive end who was rated as one of the top prep defensive lineman in 1998.
An area of concentration among the recruiting class was the tight end position. Stanford landed three potential tight ends in Darin Naatjes (Alvord, IA), Brett Pierce (Vancouver, WA) and Eran Landry (Pass Christian, MS). Naatjes is a prep All-America who was ranked as the No. 26 recruit in the nation by the National Recruiting Advisor while both Pierce, also a prep All-America, and Landry could play tight end or defense for Stanford.
"We felt we needed help at the tight end position and with the three players we brought in, the future should be bright for us at tight end," said Willingham.
Defensively, the six players recruited are all prep All-Americas. The list includes linemen Drew Caylor (Kensington, MD), Dustin Stimson (Colleyville, TX) and Hobson, linebackers Jake Covault (Tarpon Springs, FL) and Brian Gaffney (Phoenix, AZ) and cornerback Jim Johnson (Abington, PA). Add to that list potential defenders Landry and Pierce and the Cardinal has added a quality group for the 1999 season.
Prep All-America Luke Powell (Smyrna, TN), a 5-8 speedster who was an option quarterback in high school, will be converted to wide receiver at Stanford. He brings with him a break-away threat every time he touches the ball.
The three offensive lineman joining the Cardinal football program include All-America Mike Sullivan (Vista, CA), Edmond O'Neal, III (Flint, MI) and Mike Holman (Houston, TX).