He's not moving from offense to defense or assuming a completely foreign role, but Kelsey Young and Stanford hope a subtle position switch pays major dividends for the Cardinal offense. Stanford moved Young from wide receiver, where he was often used as a receiver/running back hybrid, to a more pure running back spot this offseason.
"One day Coach Shaw sent me a text and asked me to join him in his office for a quick meeting," Young said. "(When) I went, he just asked me if I would like to play running back again. Of course I didn't hesitate to say, 'Yes,' because that's my first position."
So far, the Young hasn't encountered many hurdles.
"It wasn't much of a transition because I was recruited as a running back and I've been playing running back my whole life," Young said. "More of the transition went from going from running back to receiver."
Still, there are differences between the two positions.
"It's definitely more physical than receiver because you're going up the middle and you have to account for pass protection with guys that are 230, 240, 250 pounds," Young said. "And that's definitely something different with receiver where you have defensive backs that are 190 to around 200."
Young is being guided in his transition by Stanford's new running backs coach, Lance Taylor.
"He's very intelligent," Young said of Taylor. "He definitely knows what he's talking about. I understand what he's saying and I understand why he's saying it. He's down to earth. I can understand why he says what he says and that really helps me to tone my game because I understand why I'm being told the coaching."
While for the time being Young is focused on re-learning some of the ins and outs of the running back position, he hopes that his role within Stanford's offense eventually expands.
"I feel like nowadays it's more lethal, per se, to be able to run out of the backfield and be considered as a receiver," Young said. "So I like to be that hybrid kind of guy so I can get the rock in the backfield and do the pass pro and then also go out and run a couple of routes. I think that's the most dangerous.
"So far during spring ball it's just been reiterating the foundations of playing running back. But hopefully as I can prove that I can hold that role then I can expand it more and be used in the receiver role as well."
Senior linebacker A.J. Tarpley is currently participating working with his fourth inside linebackers coach in five years, but the Minnesota native doesn't view all of the coaching turnover as a negative.
"(Coach Hansen) being my fourth inside backers coach since I've been here, I try and just learn from everybody," Tarpley said. "Every coach has some things that they bring to the table and Coach Hansen has been as good as we've had here coming from the 49ers (working) with technically the two best inside backers in the NFL, in the world. He's bringing a lot of good stuff to the table that we're just trying to take in. he's really done well with teaching us. Each guy is going to need different coaching. He's direct with us, which is a big thing in college sports. He's very direct as far as what's going right, what's going wrong. He tells it like it is, so I'm excited."
Though Tarpley has started at inside linebacker for Stanford for three season, the 2014 campaign will be his first as the unit's most veteran - and most visible - player. In past seasons, Tarpley was overshadowed to a degree by Shayne Skov.
However, inside the locker room, that wasn't necessarily the case.
"I think there's a misconception that I've been in the back seat," Tarpley said. "I've been A.J. Tarpley since I've been here. And there's good and bad with that, but I'm not going to change completely as a person. I feel I've been a leader for this team over the years. This is going to be my fourth year starting if I earn that job. And I really just trying to be myself, continue to be myself. Everybody leads in a different way and I really do feel like the guys we have in this locker room know who the leaders are, we're very comfortable with each other. We have so many leaders on this team. We're all excited."
Added Shaw: "The big thing with A.J. is still being within himself both football-wise and personality-wise," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "Not trying to be like Shayne Skov, which he's been great. He's a natural leader. He may not be as loud, he wouldn't have the same speeches like Shayne has, but his production speaks for itself. He's extremely smart. He knows the defense backwards and forwards and makes all the great calls inside. And he's a playmaker."
Earlier this week, former Stanford and Cal basketball coach Mike Montgomery announced his retirement, concluding a heralded coaching career highlighted by a Final Four appearance on The Farm. Shaw, who had a brief stint on the Stanford basketball team, spoke highly of his former coach.
"I think Monty's record speaks for itself," Shaw said. "I love him. I have a lot of respect for him. He's been great here, he was great at Cal. Guys that played for him have a lot of respect for him. I'm happy to see he goes out on his own terms to a certain degree. I always look up to him. I know I'll see him around here in the Bay Area and hopefully we'll be able to have some lunch periodically. He's just a great person to talk to."
Stanford is hosting its second Junior Day of the 2015 recruiting cycle this weekend. Check out the visit list on the Cardinal Sports Report premium forum. Seven Rivals 250 members (including one five-star) and eight prospects who currently hold Stanford offers are expected to attend.
Stanford will hold its third open practice of the spring (and first of the second session) at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.