Hometown: Camp Hill, Penn.
High School: Cedar Cliff
One of the most symbolic moments in Coy Wire's life may have come early in his childhood when he took an IQ test. Wire, who was taking the test in an attempt to gain entrance into his elementary school's Special Interest program, remembered that the doctors told him he had a "Genius IQ". However, the most astonishing thing was the speed in which Wire completed the test.
"I think I finished it in seven minutes or something like that," Wire remembered. "My parents were a half-hour late picking me up."
Wire's ability to change and adapt quickly has been a key factor for the Stanford football team early in the 2000 season. After spending his first two seasons of action as a part-time starter at halfback, Wire was moved to strong safety just prior to spring football last April.
The move was initiated by Wire after he discussed the idea with Cardinal head coach Tyrone Willingham during an annual post-season individual meeting that Willingham traditionally conducts with his players.
"I just let Coach Willingham know that I felt like I could help the team more than I currently was at running back, where I was splitting the job with two other players," said Wire. "I brought up the switch to defense. If defense was one of the ways to help, then I would love to do it."
After talking it over with his coaching staff, Willingham agreed to give Wire a shot at a safety position during spring football. Wire, who had not played defense since high school, spent spring football working out in the secondary and began official practice for the 2000 season this August at safety. He was hoping to be part of the team's plans at the position before a big surprise came his way about a week and a half before last Saturday's season-opener at Washington State.
"I was learning the strong safety position and things were going well when they told me they were going to try me at linebacker," recalled Wire. "I had never played the position before at any level."
Picked up six tackles, including a sack and two tackles-for-loss in first game as a starting linebacker at Washington State (9/2/00) ...Had played running back in each of his first two seasons at Stanford, totaling 615 yards and six touchdowns while starting seven games ...Stanford's leading rusher as a redshirt freshman in 1998 despite missing the final five games with a dislocated thumb ...Rushed for a career-high 77 yards in Stanford's 37-34 win over North Carolina (9/19/98) during his redshirt freshman season, while adding 76 yards versus Notre Dame (10/3/98)...Rushed for a season-high 72 yards and added a TD last year versus Washington (10/30/99).
Wire adapted quickly, thanks in part to a late-night training session by current Cardinal linebacker Riall Johnson, and in the short time span of a week and a half found himself as one of two starting linebackers last Saturday night at Washington State in the Cardinal's nickel defense. A feat arguably more amazing than finishing that I.Q. test in seven minutes.
Wire excelled in his new role as he recorded six tackles, including a sack and two tackles-for-loss.
"I don't know if putting Coy at linebacker is a grand solution," said Stanford defense coordinator Kent Baer following the game, "but it added a lot of speed. Coy is so talented we had to find a way to get him on the field."
Wire had already shown his talent and versatility earlier in his Stanford career by excelling on Cardinal special teams at some of the most difficult positions. Wire's special teams duties have included returning kicks, blocking on kickoff return teams and being the "gunner" on the punt team. The "gunner" is the player who lines up on the outside and tries to be the first player to reach the punt returner despite focused efforts to keep him away from doing that by the punt return team. Wire has recently added the infamous "wedge buster" on kickoff teams to his special teams duties.
"You run full-speed ahead and basically hit a brick wall as hard as you can," described Wire about this new duty.
"I'll have to talk to coach about that one," he added half-jokingly.
Given all of his exploits, it is easy to forget about the contribution Wire made during his two seasons as one of the primary members of Stanford's offensive backfield. Wire was the team's leading rusher as a redshirt freshman in 1998 despite missing the final five games of the season with a dislocated thumb. Wire totaled 615 yards and six rushing touchdowns in two seasons.
The fact that Wire even ended up on The Farm at all was also a last minute change. Wire had narrowed down his choices to North Carolina State, Maryland and Pittsburgh because he decided that he wanted to stay near his Pennsylvania home. Then, one day a letter from Stanford arrived in the mail.
"What's Stanford?" Wire remembered asking his parents. "I also asked my parents if they had football."
His parents reminded him that Pennsylvania native Jon Ritchie, who Wire had watched play in high school, had attended Stanford.
Wire decided to take an unofficial visit to Stanford and immediately fell in love with the campus, the athletic facilities and the Bay Area in general.
"I had never seen anything like it. I just fell in love with everything about the campus, the athletic facilities and especially the entire Bay Area," said Wire, who claims to go out on road trips all over California as often as he possibly can with his busy schedule.
Wire soon committed to Stanford and his father, Rick, even got into the family act of adaptation by deciding to change his career path. The senior Wire founded his own company - "The Student-Athlete and College Recruiting" - after Coy's recruiting experience.
"My going through the recruiting process gave him the idea for the company," said Coy.
Rick Wire now speaks all over the nation at a variety of functions, even speaking at Stanford youth camps last summer. He has also published a book with the same name as his company.
Wire's younger brother, Casey, may be the greatest change artist of all in the family. The 18-year-old Arizona State student is a professional magician.
by Kyle McRae