NCAA Football Stanford Cardinal

Stanford Football’s 5 Most Intriguing Players Heading into 2014

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5 Intriguing Players to Watch for Stanford in 2014

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The Stanford Cardinal have opened up their spring practice session to kick off the 2014 season looking for their third straight Pac-12 title. There are some questions about the Stanford roster heading into this season after losing a wealth of talent to graduation and/or the NFL. As they look for answers this spring, keep an eye out for some very intriguing talents to make a name for themselves.

Often times, future stars just need an opportunity to shine and they can take their team to the next level. Stanford has enjoyed several such difference-makers in their rise to the top of the Pac-12 and will be looking for the next crop of playmakers this spring. There are plenty of potential breakout candidates that you should keep an eye on heading into next fall.

David Shaw has proven that he can build a program that is capable of overcoming the loss of star players. He did it with Andrew Luck, then again with Stepfan Taylor. 2014 will be another opportunity for him to prove that Stanford doesn’t rebuild anymore, they simply reload. Finding those key contributors, the diamonds in the rough, could be the difference between Stanford’s successful Pac-12 title defense or some other Pac-12 power taking home the crown.

While there is plenty riding on finding these new stars, half of the fun is in the journey. As spring practice gets into full swing, look for some lesser known talents to take center stage and show what they’re capable of. With that being said, here are five intriguing players for Stanford heading into the 2014 season.

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5. Barry Sanders, RB

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Steven Bisig - USA TODAY Sports

As the son of one of the most exciting running backs in NFL history, Barry Sanders may have had a bit too much expectation heaped on him when he arrived in Palo Alto. While he contributed here and there for the Cardinal in 2013, fans are clamoring to see him find a regular role in the offense in 2014. He’ll be part of a crowded running back competition this spring as he jockeys for carries with Remound Wright, Ricky Seale, and Kelsey Young. Can the young Sanders capture a bit of dad’s magic and provide a spark to the Stanford attack in 2014?

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4. Kevin Anderson, LB

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Robert Hanashiro - USA TODAY Sports

It’s never easy to replace an outgoing all-conference performer but Kevin Anderson might be the surest bet as Stanford looks to replace Trent Murphy. As a reserve in 2013, Anderson recorded 26 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss, and will be looked to this spring to show he’s ready to step into the starting lineup. Getting consistent production from the linebacker position is a huge piece of Stanford’s formula for success so Anderson will be closely watched to see if he’s ready to take on that responsibility. Will he be able to pick up the slack in the pass rush with Murphy moving on?

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3. Francis Owusu, WR

francis owusu
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As the younger brother of Stanford great Chris Owusu, Francis Owusu has a legacy to uphold with the Cardinal. After catching two passes for 56 yards and a touchdown during his freshman season, Owusu figures to see an expanded role in the receiver rotation in 2014. He’ll have to earn the reps, however, as Stanford welcomes back just about everyone in the receiving corps from 2013, including Ty Montgomery and Devon Cajuste. Owusu has the speed and pass-catching ability to be an asset, however, and could be in store for a monster 2014 season.

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2. Luke Kaumatule, DE

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Luke Kaumatule was originally recruited to Stanford to play defense but spent his sophomore season in 2013 at tight end. This spring, he will switch back over to the defensive side of the ball to help ease the loss of several key contributors in the Cardinal defensive front for 2014. He made the switch during the season to help add depth in 2013 and recorded two tackles and a quarterback pressure. The 6-foot-7 rising junior has impressive raw ability coming off the edge but will need to use the spring practice period to show serious development of his overall game.

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1. Dalton Schultz, TE-Y

Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

After being a staple of the Stanford attack for years, tight end production dipped significantly in 2013. The Cardinal will bring a wealth of young talent into the fold in 2014 to turn that trend around and none have more promise than Dalton Shultz. The 6-foot-6, 235-pound incoming freshman was the No. 1 rated tight end prospect in the 2014 recruiting class and will compete immediately for playing time in the fall. If he can quickly develop a rapport with quarterback Kevin Hogan, the tight end position could see a serious renaissance at Stanford next season.