In all likelihood, Southern California offensive lineman Thomas Oser will wind up as the final verbal commitment in Stanford's 2013 recruiting class.
Oser, the 12th commitment to the Cardinal class, delivered a verbal pledge to Stanford in mid-January while on his official visit to The Farm hours after fellow Californian Austin Hooper did the same. Stanford's class is expected to include 12 recruits.
Oser was contemplating the possibility of playing football Stanford months before he made his college decision, however.
"Schools that were always on my mind just because they're in state were the four California, the big D-1 schools in the Pac-12," Oser said. "I was always thinking it would be awesome to play at UCLA, USC, Stanford or Cal. Just those schools in general would be really cool. The school that really popped out a lot was Stanford. People were always telling me I could be the next Jonathan Martin, a kid coming out of our school, I could be the next Jonathan Martin to go to Stanford. Now he's in the pros and it's even a bigger deal."
Oser earned his first college offer in April, from Colorado. A few months later, his recruitment exploded.
One week in mid-June, Oser made three stops on the camp circuit - at Vanderbilt, Oregon and Stanford. He earned an offer from each school.
"That was a crazy week," Oser said. "I went to camp at Vanderbilt on a Friday. They offered me on the next Monday. And I remember I was at school I was lifting and it was still summer, so it was before even summer practices started and whatnot. I was at school (and) my coach was here. Vanderbilt was on the phone, so I started talking to them. When they offered I was calm and collected on the phone, but as soon as I hung up I went nuts. That was one of my favorites from the start. When I got that I was excited."
Oregon was next on the itinerary.
"I went up to Oregon that Wednesday and camped with them," Oser said. "(Oregon offensive) Coach Greatwood had come out to a practice during the spring ball and he said he liked what he saw. I went up to camp and they offered me there and I was ecstatic there too."
A trip to Palo Alto completed Oser's camp tour.
"Friday that was probably one of the harder camps I think I camped four places. Those three and usc earlier, Stanford was full pads. It was the first time I was in full pads since my junior season. I went out there and just tried my hardest and came away with that offer and then things really just blew up.
"Coming from my high school Stanford is the school to beat. Everyone's dream is to go there. So when I got that offer everyone just went nuts and I thought, 'Wow, I'm on top of the world right now.' I just couldn't believe it."
Oser faced some formidable competition at Stanford's camp to earn the Cardinal offer. Touted linemen Cameron Hunt, Sean Dowling and Jacob Alsadek were also in attendance, while fellow 2013 linemen like Scott Quessenberry also expressed high interest in Stanford.
Oser was the only 2013 lineman at camp to earn a Stanford scholarship.
"They came with all these accolades," Oser said. "I totally respect them. They're all great players. I felt kind of small when I lined up with them and I had just made a name for myself that week and they'd been on the news boards for quite a while. I always looked up to them, I guess, in a way. I was very pleased and very humbled that the Stanford coaches decide to extend their interest me. I didn't think too much more into it. I really, really appreciated what I had… It was truly a surprise. It really showed that hard work does pay off. I was really happy about that."
Upon receiving the offer, Oser gave the possibility of making an immediate commitment to Stanford some thought.
"I thought about it," Oser said. "I would be lying to myself if I didn't say, 'I thought this is it, this is what I want to do.' But I decided I wouldn't be doing myself a service if I didn't explore my other options first and make sure. This is the biggest decision I'm going to make in my life so far, so I wanted to make sure I'm going to pick the right spot so I wanted to make sure I explored my other options before I made such a definite decision."
There was also the rather significant matter of Oser getting admitted to Stanford. Oser's standardized test scores were high, but Harvard-Westlake's academics aren't a walk in the park.
"I was talking to Coach Shaw the day he offered and it was just one of those things where he goes only A's and B's for the rest of your life," Oser said. "And I said alright, that's what I'm going for, that's my goal, and that's what I'm going to get. I was grinding in the summer. I took two SAT's and then during the summer I went to some tutoring places and studied a good amount of stuff that I was going to be learning during the school year. I studied all summer in between practices and outside of practice and just kept grinding (in preparation for) a couple of AP classes for my senior year. When we hit the school year I just kept rolling and it was great to keep on going through that."
Oser also spent a significant amount of time and effort on his Stanford application.
"I did spend a lot of time on my application," Oser said. "It was something that I really thought was going to be important. Coming out of my school, the competition coming out of my school kids go there every year. I put a lot of work into that. When I finally sent it off I felt really relieved. When I heard back I was even more relieved and more excited."
Yet even that was somewhat stressful and dramatic.
"It was the day early decisions for the early decision applicants came out," Oser said. "And so I was sitting at home, it was a Friday afternoon. I was just sitting at home and I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw a bunch of my friends had been accepted and everyone was congratulating them. And I was like, 'Man, I wish could find out soon. That would be something incredible.' But they have their timetable and I'm going to hear back when I hear back.
"Literally as I was doing that I got a call from a 650 number. I wasn't sure who it was, but for some reason that week was two days before my cell service minutes were up and my dad used up all of our minutes for the month, so I wasn't able to really call coaches that week and whatnot.
"But I saw Palo Alto and said I'd give it a shot. So I answered the phone and it was Coach Shaw. I was beyond myself. The first thing that popped in my head was this could be either really good or really bad. I thought it was going to be bad for some reason. Coach Shaw was just like, 'Hey, can you hear me?' The cell service at my house isn't too good, so he was like, 'Can you hear me?' I said, 'Yeah, I can hear you.' I was moving around making sure I could hear everything.
"He goes, 'Good, because I just wanted to let you know you've been accepted to Stanford.'"
"When that hit me internally I went berserk. Obviously I had to keep my composure on the line. But I went berserk inside. I was off the chain and he goes alright, go tell your parents and enjoy that keep on working. We hung up. It was like 40 cents to a minute, so that was like the best dollar I ever spent, hearing that news. I went outside told my mom and then I told my sister and my dad. I called them up we were just going nuts. It was an exciting afternoon."
Armed with news of his admission, Oser was tempted to commit to the Cardinal for the second time in his recruitment. But again, he held off.
Find out why in the second part of our interview with Oser, in which the three-star lineman discusses his commitment to Stanford and reaction from the Harvard-Westlake community.