Stanford football began to recruit really well under Jim Harbaugh. Nothing has changed since David Shaw took over control of the program two years ago, and the Cardinal are looking at bringing in another highly-regarded class for 2014.
According to 24/7 Sports and their composite team rankings, Stanford's recruiting class of 16 players thus far is ranked No. 22 in the country. That's second-best in the Pac-12 behind only Rich Rodriguez and the Arizona Wildcats, who sit 18th. The only other Pac-12 team ranked in the top-40 is Arizona State at No. 37. Oregon and USC were expected to be towards the top of the rankings and could still make a push, although shaky coaching situations in Eugene and SoCal have likely kept a handful of prospects from giving their early pledges.
Stanford received a boost in the team rankings after securing commitments from a couple high-profile recruits in August. Three-star athlete Denzel Franklin got things rolling when he gave his pledge on Aug. 1. Franklin, who currently resides in Atlanta, is projected to play running back in Palo Alto next season. Then, on August 10, the Cardinal landed three big-time prospects: Joey Alfieri, Bobby Okereke and Kirk Tucker. Alfieri is rated as a four-star outside linebacker out of Oregon and is ranked by 24/7 as the 20th-best OLB in the 2014 class. Okereke plays all over the field as a three-star athlete and will likely play wide receiver in college, while Tucker is another three-star linebacker from Georgia.
Cream of the crop
The gem of the Cardinal's class is five-star pro-style quarterback Keller Chryst. Chryst could've gone to just about any school in the country, though the 6'4, 220 pound signal caller out of Palo Alto decided to stick with his hometown team. 24/7 Sports rates him as the second-best QB in the class.
Four-star running back Christian McCaffrey out of Colorado is another offensive weapon for Stanford. Rated as the sixth-best all-purpose back in 2014, McCaffrey could see plenty of early playing time next season.
Bud Elliott, SB Nation National Recruiting Analyst:
Stanford is heavily targeting a five-star and three four-star prospects.
The five-star is Solomon Thomas, an explosive defensive end out of Coppell (Texas). He is a five-star, and Stanford has the difficult task of pulling him away from the Texas Longhorns.
The Cardinal may have a better chance of grabbing Nifae Lealao, a defensive end out of Sacramento (Calif.) Capitol Christian. Lealao has tremendous size at 280 pounds, and is a perfect fit for Stanford's three-four defense.
Tight end Dalton Schultz, of South Jordan (Utah) Bingham, is a four-star tight end who is no doubt attracted to Stanford's education and strong use of its tight ends.
Speaking of tight ends and defensive ends, Garrett Dickerson, of Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic could play either for Stanford (though he could also be a rush outside linebacker). Michigan and Northwestern are also pushing for Dickerson.