Sunshine, academics, and linebackers. That might be the holy trinity of Stanford University. Of all the Pac-12 linebacking units in the coming 2012 season, there may not be a more heralded group than the one wearing Cardinal red. From what head coach David Shaw is putting together, the future is just as bright as the present.
If the Cardinal are to keep the recent success of BCS bowls and winning seasons alive, than it will do so with an elite Pac-12 defense. First round draft pick, Andrew Luck, had a lot to do with an Orange and Fiesta Bowl appearance over the past two years respectively. Quarterbacks like Luck do not grow on trees. However, in Palo Alto, it would appear talented linebackers are grown like grapes in Napa Valley.
Of the six 2013 commitments Stanford has compiled, three are four star linebackers as rated by Rivals. Doug Randolph is the most recent verbal and has all the tools needed to be special. Scouts have pegged Randolpoh as a big time outside backer with pass-rush speed, explosiveness, and an ability to defend the run.
The 2013 Cardinal class also includes Peter Kalambayi out of Mathews North Carolina, and Isaac Savaiinaea from Honolulu Hawaii. Both had offers to play close to home. Of the incoming 2012 freshman class Blake Martinez and Noor Davis are more than capable of continuing the fine tradition of tough-nosed defense.
Martinez is from Arizona, and Davis hails from Florida. The Cardinal are a national brand. When it comes to recruiting linebackers, Stanford can go into the backyard of other big time conferences and pick off linebacking talent. On the current Stanford roster 10 linebackers are from outside the Golden State.
Coach Shaw is still building the 2013 class so there is much more to come. De-commitments are always a fear as signing day draws closer. The Cardinal defense was 26th in the nation in 2011 and third against the run. It is hard to ignore the talent being assembled between the line and the secondary as a huge contributor to such numbers.
In an age when programs are built on spread offenses with multiple receiver sets, Stanford is doing it the old fashioned way. A bruising running game coupled with a stingy defense goes against the grain of the rest of the Pac-12. What this strategy does flow well with, is BCS National Championships (See the SEC).
With the future at quarterback uncertain for Stanford, there is no question the linebacking corps will continue bear fruit.