Programming note: For more on National Signing Day, tune in to SportsNet Central tonight and every night at 6, 10:30 p.m. and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
The Stanford Cardinal (11-3, 7-2 Pac-12) had a strong season last year, just shy of greatness with close losses at Utah and USC. Stanford continued its brand of football with stout defense and a tough run-based offense.
The Cardinal saw some coaching changes this offseason, most notably former defensive cordinator Derek Mason left to become the head coach at Vanderbilt and former running back coach Mike Sanford was hired as the Boise State offensive coordinator. Stanford also lost a bevy of talent that included star defensemen Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov along with 80 percent of their offensive line.
But David Shaw has recruited the No. 2 Pac-12 class behind USC:
Full commitment list
Solomon Thomas -- No. 3 DE; No. 37 overall; 6-foot-3; 263 pounds; Texas
Keller Chryst -- No. 2 PP-QB; No. 64 overall; 6-foot-4; 234 pounds; California; 4.75 sec 40-yrd dash
Casey Tucker -- No. 5 OT; No. 74 overall; 6-foot-6; 290 pounds; Arizona
Christian McCaffrey -- No. 3 ARB; No. 77 overall; 6-foo; 195 pounds; Colorado; two-time Colorado Player of the Year
Dalton Schultz -- No. 3 TE; No. 122 overall; 6-foot-6; 235 pounds; Utah; 4.79 sec 40-yrd dash
Bobby Okereke -- No. 10 OLB; No. 158 overall; 6-foot-1; 213 pounds; California; 4.68 sec 40-yrd dash
Joey Alfieri -- No. 11 OLB; No. 171 overall; 6-foot-4; 225 pounds; Oregon; 4.5 sec 40-yrd dash
Reilly Gibbons -- No. 19 OT; No. 216 overall; 6-foot-6; 278 pounds; Florida; 4.92 sec 40-yrd dash
Brandon Simmons -- No. 22 S; 5-foot-11; 171 pounds; Texas; 4.6 sec 40-yrd dash
Terrence Alexander -- No. 32 CB; 5-foot-10; 178 pounds; Louisiana; 4.4 sec 40-yrd dash
Jordan Perez -- No. 38 OLB; 6-foot-2; 220 pounds; California; 4.77 sec 40-yrd dash
Austin Hall -- No. 41 OT; 6-foot-5; 295 pounds; Arizona
Isaiah Brandt-Sims -- No. 46 ATH; 5-foot-11; 185 pounds; Washington; 4.4 sec 40-yrd dash; Reigning two-time Washington state champion in 100m and 200m
Alameen Murphy -- No. 63 CB; 5-foot-10; 181 pounds; Maryland
Alijah Holder -- No. 64 CB; 6-foot-1; 165 pounds; California; 4.65 sec 40-yrd dash
Harrison Phillips -- No. 30 DE; 6-foot-4; 259 pounds; Nebraska; 4.89 sec 40-yrd dash; Nebraska 2014 State Player of the Year; Nebraska State Champion in Wrestling
Daniel Marx -- No. 3 FB; 6-foot-3; 238 pounds; California
Lane Veach -- DE; 6-foot-6; 215 pounds; Arizona
Denzel Franklin -- ATH; 5-foot-11; 180 pounds; Georgia; 4.75 sec 40-yrd dash
Jesse Burkett -- OT; 6-foot-5; 290 pounds; Florida; First signee at 4:03 am Pacific Time
*Stanford did not sign any 1-, 2- or 5-star players in their 2014 class
*All rankings are from Rivals.com
Best Player – DE Solomon Thomas
The dominant five-star defensive end chose Stanford over Arkansas and UCLA on Wednesday in a move that helps the Cardinal defensive front for years to come. Ranked as the No. 37 overall prospect, and No. 3 strongside defensive end, Thomas enjoyed an outright dominant senior season for Coppell High School in Texas with 26 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. In the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Thomas showed his superior ability with three tackles for loss. He plays low, and uses quick hands as a plus defender against the run. While he isn't a freak athlete, Thomas has more than enough burst and speed to get after the quarterback from the edge.
Surprise Signing – OT Casey Tucker
Originally committed to USC, the 6-foot-6, 290-pound Tucker announced Thursday on Twitter that he would sign with the Cardinal. Stanford is losing 80 percent of its offensive line heading into next season, but David Shaw has recruited nicely in recent years up front. In 2012, he signed five-star tackles Andrus Peat and Kyle Murphy, four-star tackles Nick Davidson and Graham Shuler, the No. 2 overall guard Joshua Garnett and four-star guard Brandon Fanaika.
Keep an eye on – TE Dalton Schultz
Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz, Jim Dray, Levine Toilolo…those are the names of a few Stanford tight ends that are currently playing in the NFL on Sundays. It’s well known that Stanford likes to run the ball with two and sometimes three tight end sets, but last year the Cardinal didn’t have the luxury of an abundance of tight ends. Enter Shultz. At 6-foot-6 and 233 pounds, the four-star prospect has the frame to put on weight, along with his 4.79 40-yard dash speed. He could very well be the next great Cardinal tight end.
Biggest miss – DE Nifae Lealao (No. 10 SDE, No. 130 overall)
The massive defensive end from Sacramento originally committed to Stanford in September 2013, but decommitted once former Cardinal defensive coordinator Derek Mason left to become Vanderbilt’s head coach. With his obvious size –- 6-foot-6, 280 pounds -- Lealao would have been a prototypical 3-4 defensive end for the Cardinal in the mold of former starter Josh Mauro. Lealao ranks as the No. 130 overall prospect and the No. 10 strongside defensive end.
Last year’s top freshman – WR Francis Owusu (No. 20 WR, No. 178 overall)
Owusu was the only true freshman to play for the Cardinal in 2013. He played in 12 games and had two catches for 56 yards and a touchdown on the season (both against Cal). Coming out of high school, Owusu was a consensus four-star recruit and a PrepStar All-American. His older brother Chris played wide receiver at Stanford from 2008-11 and now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.