A second member of the McFadden clan will join the Stanford football program next fall. Minnesota running back Pat McFadden accepted a walk-on offer from Stanford last week, and will team with his older brother, current Cardinal center Conor McFadden on The Farm.
Pat McFadden made his choice taking a visit to The Farm last weekend. He selected Stanford over opportunities at Ivy League schools and a preferred walk-on offer at Northwestern.
"I think one of the biggest factors is Conor, my older brother playing at Stanford," McFadden told Cardinal Sports Report last week. "Just from his first-hand experience of how much he loves the school, how much he loves the football program, how he just is so excited to talk about Stanford. That's one thing that was definitely a plus. But I think the biggest thing for me was on my visit it was just an awesome experience. I think that's the only way I can really put it. The people were incredible, the students, both the football players and the regular students, were very interesting and all very engaging in conversation. The coaching staff was unbelievable. I had a meeting with Tavita Pritchard, the running backs coach, and was just kind of blown away by him. And we met with Coach Shaw, who is just an amazing man. He's a leader and I knew he was someone I would love to play for."
The recruiting process began for McFadden after his sophomore year of high school. St. Thomas Academy went 11-1 that year, and featured several talented players, including current Stanford defensive lineman Anthony Hayes
"I would say (recruiting) really started for me after my sophomore year," McFadden said. "I had the luxury and opportunity of being able to start my sophomore year. I was able to work my way into the lineup. It helped that my team, we had a good team, and we have a lot of kids that go every year to play at the next level. So I was lucky to have those kids getting looks from coaches, and in turn they were able to see me play as well my sophomore year. That definitely started the recruiting."
The recruiting process hit a major snag a few months later, however, when McFadden suffered a torn ACL during track season. The injury prevented him from participating in camps and combines that summer, and forced him to miss his junior season.
College interest began to pick up again for McFadden once he got healthy. The Ivy League and Patriot League schools were to first to come in. Stanford offered McFadden a walk-on spot midway through his senior year.
"Stanford offered me the walk-on position about halfway through my senior season, which was awesome," McFadden said. "I was so excited about that, with Conor playing there and just with its reputation, I was ecstatic about that."
Northwestern offered McFadden a similar opportunity after his senior season. He eventually narrowed down his choices to the Cardinal and Wildcats, and took visits to both schools before ultimately deciding on Stanford.
"I went three weeks ago to Northwestern for a visit, liked it a lot, enjoyed it, met with the coaches and everything," McFadden said. "And I went to Stanford this past weekend and was just blown away. I knew then it was the place for me."
One of the highlights of the visit was a meeting with Pritchard.
"It kind of started off, before the visit talking to Conor about my schedule for the day, and I mentioned to Conor that I was meeting with Tavita" McFadden said. "Even though he never played with Tavita, Conor said that all of the older teammates on the team who had played with him, it was just nothing but good stories about him. So I came into the meeting really excited to meet (Tavita) and interested to see if he lived up to what Conor hyped him up to be, and he easily lived up to it and exceeded any expectations. He came off as a young coach, a players' coach I guess, but at the same time I could tell he's someone that's really driven and expects results and expects you to do your best job always. I knew he was someone that could relate with the players but at the same time push them."
McFadden has visited Stanford several times over the past few years. He estimates that he's been to Palo Alto between five and seven times, mostly for home football games, though he also attended a Junior Day last spring. But his favorite Stanford football experiences occurred off-campus.
"I vividly remember I went down to the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, that too, that was unbelievable, down in Miami," McFadden said. That was kind of my first real experience with Stanford on the big stage. That was really fun in Miami seeing them win... This year we went to the Rose Bowl, and I think the Rose Bowl really was something that kind of sold it for me. Stanford, just I love how they play football. And that's something that sold me, seeing them be able to pound the ball on Wisconsin was fun to see."
McFadden is considering a major in economics or MS&E (Management, Science and Engineering) when he arrives at Stanford. Due to roster space constraints, McFadden doesn't expect to join the team for the start of training camp, but will begin his Cardinal career when the season begins in September. Then, he'll join the four other Minnesotans on Stanford's roster - Conor McFadden, Anthony Hayes, A.J. Tarpley and Torsten Rotto.
"I think the main thing I'm most excited about is the opportunity I'm going to have to push myself and to really force myself to step outside of my comfort zone," McFadden said. "Coming from St. Paul, Minnesota, it's going to be a big change going to California, especially a school like Stanford. I go to an all-male, Catholic, military high school, and then me going into Stanford, which is very socially and economically, it's just very diverse. I think that's the thing I'm definitely most excited about, the change it will be and to see how I respond to it."
McFadden works out with the same trainer that trained current Stanford linebacker Torsten Rotto and Cardinal defensive end Ben Gardner.
Like many Midwest natives, McFadden grew up rooting for one of Stanford's hated rivals.
"I was always a Notre Dame fan growing up," McFadden said. "My grandpa and all of my uncles went to Notre Dame, so it was kind of forced upon us a bit to be a Notre Dame fan. We went to the games always growing up. But for the past three or four years since Conor's been at Stanford, it's been all Stanford. I could not have been more angry last year when they called it no touchdown, but it was kind of fun to see Stanford and Notre Dame playing, kind of my two favorite teams."