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February 8, 2013

From QB to Coach

Stanford's newest assistant coach is very familiar to most Cardinal fans. Tavita Pritchard, the program's new running backs coach, was a Stanford quarterback from 2006-2010. He led the Cardinal to one of the greatest upsets in college football history, a 24-23 win over USC in 2007.

After spending two seasons as a defensive assistant for Stanford, Pritchard was promoted last month to the running backs post. Pritchard spoke with Cardinal Sports Report about the promotion and what it will be like to recruit for his alma mater.

Cardinal Sports Report: I know you've been out on the road recruiting already, saw Francis Owusu, Greg Taboada, a few of those guys. How was that for you?

Tavita Pritchard: It was extremely insightful. I actually got the opportunity to go out with the best, with Mike Sanford. I went to go see Greg in Atlanta. I saw Francis in L.A. And the biggest thing is the logistics, seeing how that world works logistically, the flights, the hotel and the rental cars and all that. Because when it comes to just recruiting this place and selling this place, I feel like there aren't many better suited than me, who like Coach Shaw, has a relatively unique opportunity to sell my alma mater, a place that I really believe in, that's easy for me to sell. I'm extremely biased when it comes to that. And can tell any parent, any kid how amazing this place is and the people that work here.

CSR: How did the whole promotion to running backs coach come about? What was that like for you when you found out that was an opportunity you would be receiving?

TP: Kind of as you guys can see there's just a lot of movement that happens in the coaching world. You'd like to think there are just a lot of opportunities out there, and for sure a possibility was me staying here and being elevated in some capacity, whether it be on defense or offense. I was all for any of those, and so while there were some opportunities elsewhere, this is my No. 1, this is where I want to be, and Coach Shaw knew that. And Coach Shaw and I obviously have a good relationship and he knows my offensive knowledge, and most of it's from him, so that's the good thing, this transition will be fairly seamless. To answer your question it all happened very quickly for all of it.



CSR: How has working on the defensive side of the ball with Coach Mason added to your skillset as a coach?

TP: Huge. It was invaluable for me to have spent the time I did with him and when Coach Tarver was here with him. Coach Koutulski is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to defensive philosophy. Spending time over there just learning the defensive side of the ball, how they game plan, how they teach defense, was so good for me because now as I transition and go to to offense when I'm looking at defenses, when we're scouting, I know what they're looking for. And I'm not the only one and I don't begin to think that because these guys have spent a lot of time studying football as well, but it just gave me insight, having spent these last two years really on that side is really going to help me down the road.

CSR: In 2009 when you were starting the Sun Bowl, Shayne Skov was making 16 tackles. Is that at all a strange dynamic now coaching some of the guys you played with?

TP: It's not strange. The first year I was on staff was 2010 and then I played with all of those guys, so that was a little different. But I think me now being in this role with those players is a testament to this place. It's a testament to Stanford, it's a testament to the kind of preparation you get here, whether you go in the tech world, whether you go into finance, you really are equipped to progress quickly because we try to be the best. So the fact that I'm able to be in this position to work with… and maybe it's because I look at it as working with those running backs. I'm not above them. I'm not going to tell them what to do, but I'm going to encourage them and try to be a resource for them as they try to navigate this thing. And the good thing is I've been in their shoes. I can empathize with them to a certain extent. I'm extremely excited to be working with the Shayne Skov's and Ryan Hewitt's, all of which I played with, but also with the younger guys and just still to be a part of this team.

CSR: With the RB situation, that's obviously going to be a major competition. Are there any leaders in the clubhouse for that spot, and kind of what are you looking to accomplish for the next few months?

TP: As you can imagine right now it's all about competition. They're all guys that want the all in their hands and that's how we want it. It will look a lot like 2010, even when Stepfan was having to share some carries. That's what this year will look like. There will be different guys touching the ball. There will be guys that kind of find their niche in the offense. We'll try to get, as coach has always said, the guys that give us the best chance to win are going to play, and the guys we trust are going to be the ones carrying the rock, but we're excited about each and every one of them. They all have potential to help us in different ways. We're excited about all of those guys.

CSR: Finally, on the recruiting trail, how many of the guys have brought up that 2007 SC win when you've been talking to them?

TP: It's been brought up a couple times. And it's always fun. It's always fun to bring back.

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