football

Stanford quarterback recruiting goes on 48-hour roller coaster

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Tanner McKee of Corona Centennial

On Friday Stanford fans read with excitement the news that Corona Centennial 2018 quarterback Tanner McKee was given a scholarship offer to Stanford university. The No. 61 overall recruit on Rivals is expected to take a two-year LDS mission, making him a freshman in 2020.

Less than 48 hours after McKee tweeted that news there was another tweet from a quarterback with a Stanford offer: JT Daniels, a 2019 five-star quarterback, announced he was firmly committed to USC. Stanford was in the top four of the elite prospect and seemed to be in a favorable position after offering May 10.

What is the effect of the two developments on Stanford's potential quarterback pipeline? That's a question with several parts and unknowns.

Stanford should be a strong favorite for McKee

Stanford may not have offered McKee until the last week of July before his senior season, but the Cardinal coaches and the lanky 6-foot-6 quarterback have a longstanding relationship.

McKee counted his trip Friday as the fifth as a recruit to The Farm. Almost a year ago he made his third trip for a junior day and also attended a game last fall.

He had this to say in a Cardinal Sports Report article on July 31 of last year: "Just everything Stanford has to offer academically, talking to the coaches, seeing how it prepares you for life - it's really amazing," McKee said. "And also the pro-style offense that they run will really set you up and prepare you to play in the NFL if you have that opportunity.

"They're viewing me as (part of) the 2020 class," McKee said. "I talk to them all the time - my dad and Coach Pritchard call all the time. Coach Pete (Alamar) has come down since he's our recruiter. Coach Alamar was saying that he wants to see me play a game and we'll get farther from there. It's a lot fun to have the connections I have with these coaches."

"(A Stanford offer) would be huge. I've always loved Stanford. It's been a dream school for me. It's definitely going to be (in the) top schools for me, for sure."

The 4.2 GPA student told Cardinal Sports Report July 22 that he communicated often with Pritchard through direct message on Twitter. He described to Rivals.com recruiting analyst Adam Gorney the feeling of getting the offer: “I had a great experience,” McKee said. “I always do there. As soon as I arrived on campus coach Tavita (Pritchard) took me straight to coach (David) Shaw's office and he offered me right away.

“I appreciated that because it was easier to enjoy the rest of the day. I spent about an hour watching film with coach Tavita and Coach (Mike) Bloomgren. Learned a lot about how their quarterbacks manage and call their protections. Was really fun. They said they thought I was a perfect fit for their program and would love for me to be their 2020 guy.”

Why did Stanford lose out on Daniels?

This is not a case where a coaching staff did something wrong to lose a commitment. Daniels coveted a Stanford offer and the Cardinal offered during his fourth semester of high school during a May visit to The Farm.

The visit was a big success with Daniels and the Stanford coaching staff using the time to have extensive discussions about the quarterback position. It seemed to be great match of program and player.

Daniels told Cardinal Sports Report: "I did get to see the whole campus and facilities," he said. "My favorite part of the trip was all the one-on-one time with the coaches and getting to talk ball with the best minds in the game. I learned a lot about the game just in that one day and really got to see what Stanford football is like."

His father, Steve, also said about JT's time at Stanford: “It was very much the goal of these meetings that, ‘Hey is this place as great as we think it is,’” Steve said. “And after two days of meetings with all the people who are significant to us and we wanted to get to know, we found that it checked every box and then some.”

After Stanford offered Daniels had one from each of his top schools -- Michigan, Stanford, USC and Washington -- and proceeded to take more visits to make his final decision. Ultimately USC surged to the top on the strength of multiple visits by Daniels and apparently in part because of the opportunity to enroll early, something that Stanford does not allow.

Daniels had nothing but good choices available to him and he chose the one he felt was the best fit.

For a brief time Stanford had offers out to 2019 and 2020 quarterbacks

Before Daniels surprised some people with the timing of his announcement shortly after visiting Michigan, Stanford effectively had offers out to an un-committed quarterback in the 2019 and 2020 recruiting classes.

This was a significant development in the eyes of Stanford recruitniks. Shaw has made it clear that he doesn't view it as a recruiting necessity to take a quarterback in every class. With Stanford signing KJ Costello in 2016, Davis Mills in 2017 and currently holding the verbal commitment of 2018 prospect Jack West, there was some thought going into this year that Stanford may not take a 2019 quarterback.

Instead, Stanford decided they couldn't pass on the great physical and mental football talent of Daniels. That decision alone seemed to indicate a departure from skipping a quarterback in certain classes.

Adding the McKee offer was another strong indicator that Stanford may be more willing than ever before to dedicate one spot every year to taking a quarterback.

But now the Cardinal once again face a question about 2019.

Was it Daniels or bust in 2019?

Let there be no backpedaling among Stanford fans about the offer to Daniels and his talent level. Losing him to USC hurts because he has the ability to be a very successful college quarterback.

Some in the comparing athletes business have said Daniels can be a better version of Jake Browning. While that may not get the blood pumping the same way as saying the next Andrew Luck, having Jake Browning 2.0 on a roster means having a quarterback who can lead championship teams.

With Daniels off the table does Stanford pursue a different 2019 quarterback? Or do they decide that West in 2018 and potentially McKee in 2020 is a sufficient extension of the pipeline?

Stanford has hosted several 2019 quarterbacks in camp this summer, including Ryan Hilinski, Jacob Conover and Hank Bachmeier.

Given where Stanford once stood in the recruitment of Daniels this is probably an unexpected place for the coaches to be looking at the 2019 board. And it's not a situation that requires a quick decision to choose to go one direction or the other.

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