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August 15, 2013

Camp Day Three: Kaumatule earns the nod



Most of Stanford's training camp position battles are still undecided, but the Cardinal has settled on a replacement for Levine Toilolo at the 'Y' tight end position: true sophomore Luke Kaumatule.

"Right now (Luke) is the only defined (starter)," said Morgan Turner, Stanford's tight ends coach.

Kaumatule, a Mackey Award watch list candidate, added mass to his already sizeable frame this summer, and has had a strong beginning to camp.

"Luke is great," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "He's doing really well. He's still a young player, still learning."

"It's been nice to see Luke Kaumatule come off the summer bigger than he was, 265 now, moving really well."

The tight end outlook beyond Kaumatule is less clear. A number of players are competing to earn the starting 'F' tight end spot, a position occupied by Zach Ertz in 2012. Davis Dudchock is the most experienced of the 'F' candidates, but could be pushed by several of the team's younger tight ends, including true freshmen Eric Cotton and Greg Taboada.

"The rest of the guys (aside from Luke Kaumatule) are doing OK," Shaw said. "They're all new to a certain degree. Davis Dudchock has his role and is doing pretty well. The rest of the guys are still trying to figure it out. There's still a lot to learn. I think it's one of those deals where we're going to keep dumping things on them and hopefully in a week we'll see whose head is still above water."

Lueders, Vaughters still even

Neither Blake Lueders nor James Vaughters has separated himself in the competition to start at outside linebacker opposite Trent Murphy.

"It's still very competitive, neck-and-neck," said Lance Anderson, Stanford's outside linebackers coach. "Those two guys have both done a really good job of playing physical, setting great edges for us. They're a real physical presence on the edge. They're doing some good things pass rush wise. Both have a pretty good understanding of the defense, so it's a great competition."

Shaw has also been pleased with the performance of each player.

"I've seen two human beings that are extremely hard to block," Shaw said. "Both (are) very physical. Both play with the attitude that we want to play with. They know I personally don't care. I don't care who starts, because they're both going to play. We're going to need both of them. They're both great pass rushers, they're both great against the run. They're both extremely physical. So I love them both. We're going to need them both."

Trio rotating at center

Fifth-year senior Kevin Danser took first-team reps at center on Monday, the first day of Stanford's training camp, but will rotate with Khalil Wilkes and Conor McFadden for the foreseeable future, presumably until a starter is named. McFadden took the first team snaps on Wednesday.

While not technically part of the center competition, redshirt freshman Graham Shuler, a touted recruit in Stanford's historic 2012 offensive line class, could be a player to watch at the position in future seasons.

"He's working with the young guys right now and I'm cautiously optimistic," Shaw said. "He's obviously bigger, he's stronger. He's more comfortable knowing what to do. He's always been our most athletic center since he walked onto campus. Now he's got more size and if he can be consistent he could start to crack that competition. But we're very pleased with where he is right now. You can put it down: He's going to be extremely good. Whether or not he gets in the competition this year we'll see, but he has a chance to be very, very good."

First padded practice standout

Wednesday's practice was the first in which Stanford donned shoulder pads, and defensive lineman David Parry took full advantage of the opportunity for more contact.

"David Parry had a heck of a day today," Shaw said. "He's so powerful and quick off the ball. He's gained 10 pounds, so he's over 300 pounds now. And he's hard to keep out of the backfield. So he had an outstanding day today."

Kalambayi continues to earn praise

Though it's difficult to make any definitive conclusions after three days of training camp, freshman outside linebacker Peter Kalambayi has continued to build on an impressive summer in the Cardinal's strength and conditioning program.

"I think Peter Kalambayi is running around really well," Shaw said. "You can really see his athleticism and his sized and his speed."

Stanford has not determined whether Kalambayi will play this season - that decision could be based in large part on Kalambayi's role on special teams - but the Cardinal expect Kalambayi to make a significant impact on its defense in years to come.

"(I'm) very pleased with Peter," Lance Anderson said. "(He's) very athletic, He's just a great fit for what we do at outside linebacker. He's athletic so he's been really good in the drops, playing in space. He's get some real good pass rushing ability too. So that combination that we're looking for, he's there."

"He has a lot of ability and it looks like he's going to do some real good things for us in the future."

Cover Cardinal

Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov became the third current or former Cardinal to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated in the last year when the magazine was released on Wednesday. In addition to appearing on the cover, Skov was the subject of an extensive feature authored by Pete Thamel. The article chronicled Skov's Cardinal career and the adversity he has encountered in his personal and family life.

Shaw has yet to read the article, but he is familiar with the fifth-year senior's journey.

"I haven't seen the article yet, (but) I've seen the cover," Shaw said. "I think it's outstanding. I've talked to people at SI. They were really excited about the article. I've heard from multiple people that they would love to make it in to a book. They would love for it to be a book. That's how much information they got. They had to cut it down to fit into an article. The young man has a fascinating story and he's a guy that you root for."

For access to complete Stanford camp coverage and the best Cardinal football recruiting information on the web, considering signing up for a seven-day free trial to Cardinal Sports Report today.


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