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August 1, 2012Cardinal Sports Report made the trip to San Francisco on Monday to attend the fifth annual Bay Area college football media day. We returned with a ton of interesting quotes, notes, and tidbits from the event.
Due to the length of the interviews and amount of information gathered, we'll split our recap of the media day festivities into multiple segments. The second item in our series examines the offensive line, wide receiver, tight end, and kick returning situation heading into camp.
Part One: Quarterback and running back notes
Holes to fill up front
Six months after Stanford signed possibly the best offensive line recruiting class in college football history, the freshman offensive linemen will finally get a chance to prove their mettle on the field. Andrus Peat, Joshua Garnett, Kyle Murphy, Nick Davidson, Graham Shuler, and Johnny Caspers (Brandon Fanaika will take an LDS mission before enrolling) will report to training camp this Sunday for the start of their college careers.
Several of those players have legitimate opportunities to earn significant playing time this season as the Cardinal attempts to fill two vacancies along the offensive line, at right guard and left tackle.
At this juncture, the competition at guard appears somewhat more clear than at tackle.
"We've got a really good competition at right guard that I think doesn't have a downside between Kevin Danser and Khalil Wilkes," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "Josh Garnett's going to get a shake coming in there. Josh has come in and he's a house. He's 320 pounds and looks great so we'll see where he is mentally, we'll see where he is physically, but he's going to have a chance to battle those guys at the right guard position."
Shaw was more vague about left tackle. There's been plenty of speculation that the job will either go to David Yankey, who would move outside from left guard, or either Peat or Murphy (with Peat perhaps the more physically mature player at this stage), but Shaw said didn't list names of any possible contenders.
"Left tackle is wide open in my opinion," Shaw said.
Redshirt senior Sam Schwartzstein also declined to speculate if he thought any of the freshmen would be in the mix for early playing time.
"We brought in some guys with ability but have some guys on the team already with a lot of ability as well," Schwartzstein said.
Receiver depth a question
Ty Montgomery will be Stanford's No. 1 receiver this season, but the outlook beyond him is unclear. Shaw singled out Drew Terrell and Jamal-Rashad Patterson as players that could possibly emerge.
"Drew Terrell had a great spring and by all accounts is taking this seriously," Shaw said. "He wants to start. He wants to play a lot. He was our best blocker a year ago, which with the way we run the ball is vital. Maybe he didn't catch a whole lot of passes but he still played a lot last year in some critical situations. I love where he is right now leadership wise. He knows everything, he knows all of the positions, we're going to lean on him a lot."
"Jamal-Rashad Patterson has come back in the best shape of his life. Running track last year I think helped a lot. He's dropped a lot of weight. He's cut his body fat. He's finished spring one of our most explosive guys after he came back from track which is really exciting."
Kick returner uncertain
In addition to emerging as a valuable receiver threat, Montgomery proved to be a capable kick returner during the latter parts of his freshman season. But because of Montgomery's value to the offense, Shaw is hesitant to employ him as a full-time kick returner, leaving the position open for competition.
"That's one of my top five questions for the year," Shaw said. "We've got some young guys that did it in high school, we've got some guys on the team that have expressed interest. Ty Montgomery did a really good job last year. Don't know that I want him to do that all year. We might choose our spots here and there for that, but we're counting on him so much for the offense that that might not be his role game in game out, but it's going to be one of our top special teams competitions all training camp."
Kaumatule on offense
Incoming freshman Luke Kaumatule was recruited by most schools as a defensive end, but Stanford plans to use him on offense - at least to begin his Stanford career. If the experiment works, Kaumatule could bolster one of the nation's most talented - and tallest - tight end corps.
"Luke's 6-foot-7 plus and in the low 250's upper 240's I believe," Shaw said. "We're going to try and find a role for him. I made the decision to flip him over to offense this year nad see where he can play, hopefully help us at tight end. Somewhere down the road he might go back to defense but he's kind of doing me this favor. Just to see the way that we use our tight ends right now to have a big, athletic body like that is really exciting. Paired with Levine Toilolo, who's almost the same size and Zach Ertz is going to be the third biggest guy in the room at 6-foot-6, 250, but it's exciting."
Shaw added that Kaumatule is almost fully recovered from the ACL injury he suffered last season.
"By all accounts he is very, very close to being 100 percent," Shaw said. "Not completely there yet but has been able to do all the workouts all summer. Rehab has been outstanding. He has great flexibility. His knee brace is in, he feels great about it. So we'll see where he is when camp starts and hopefully early in the year he gets the clean bill of health to where he can help us win football games."