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October 25, 2012

Freshmen Review: Offense

Stanford's offense has struggled at times in 2012, but there's no denying that the Cardinal has more than its fair share of young offensive talent. Stanford's No. 5 ranked 2012 recruiting class included 13 offensive players (including Brandon Fanaika, who will go on an LDS mission before enrolling at Stanford).

Cardinal Sports Report caught up with Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton to get the scoop on the Card's banner crop of first-year offensive players.

Johnny Caspers
Position: OL
Rivals rating: 3-star
Position ranking: N/A
Author's Comment: Will redshirt.

Hamilton's take: "Doing a great job in the weight room, building his body up to put
himself in a position to compete to play at some point and, of course, he's a smart, tough guy. If he wasn't, he wouldn't be here."

Conner Crane
Position: WR
Rivals rating: 3-star
Position ranking: 87
Author's Comment: Will redshirt.

Hamilton's take: "Conner is progressively getting better. He came into camp recovering front a foot injury that he sustained toward the latter part of his high school season last year and he's starting to get back up to speed and I'm excited to see what he can do."

Nick Davidson
Position: OL
Rivals rating: 4-star
Position ranking: 34
Author's Comment: Son of Minnesota offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, who was a fifth-round pick in the 1990 NFL Draft.

Hamilton's take: "Nick is a big body, long-armed offensive tackle that needs to improve his strength, but he really has a good understanding of our system and what we've introduced him to up until this point. He's a work in progress and we're counting on him to get stronger in the weight room so he can play at some point."

Joshua Garnett
Position: OG
Rivals rating: 4-star (Garnett was the highest ranked four-star recruit in the nation.)
Position ranking: 2
Author's Comment: Has met high expectations coaching staff had for him. Seeing playing time in jumbo formations, has even lined up at fullback.

Hamilton's take: "Oh, wow. His body has changed tremendously since he first stepped on campus. He's starting to get into college football shape. He's one of the biggest, most powerful guys on our football team as a true freshman. The sky is the limit with Josh."

Dontonio Jordan
Position: WR
Rivals rating: 3-star
Position ranking: N/A
Author's Comment: Making switch from RB to WR.

Hamilton's take: "We're really working to find a position for him. He played running
back in high school and he's dynamic with the ball in his hands, but he's working as a receiver now and he's shown flashes of potentially being a guy who can give us some run after catch ability when he has an opportunity to play the receiver position."

Luke Kaumatule
Position: TE
Rivals rating: 4-star
Position ranking: 15 (DE)
Author's Comment: Wears No. 96, but playing TE.

Hamilton's take: "Luke has played in games for us. Luke had a critical block against (USC) down in the red zone that sprung Zach Ertz for a touchdown on the skinny post. Luke is next in line. We've had some pretty good tight ends around here and Luke is poised to follow in the footsteps of Levine Toilolo and Zach Ertz. Luke is 6-8, 260 pounds and as soon as he can improve his ability to play without the ball, he's going to be a guy that contributes to our offense for awhile."

Kyle Murphy
Position: OT
Rivals rating: 5-star
Position ranking: 3
Author's Comment: Will be interesting to see when/where he breaks into starting lineup with Cam Fleming and Andrus Peat destined to man the tackle spots next season.

Hamilton's take: "He came in ready to play college football, but once again, we ask our guys to process a lot at the line of scrimmage - I'm talking our offensive linemen in particular. He gets it. He gets it. It's just a matter of him getting an opportunity to play. We'd feel good about putting him in there if we had to. He would be able to function."

Andrus Peat
Position: OT
Rivals rating: 5-star
Position ranking: 6
Author's Comment: Hard to receive more praise than that given by Hamilton.

Hamilton's take: "Andrus is a once in a lifetime prospect, just as far as his physical dimensions and his athletic ability. He's rare. I would compare him to a young Jonathan Ogden, who I had an opportunity, when I worked as a scout with the Baltimore Ravens, to watch dominate year in year out in the National Football League and Andrus has that potential. It's just a matter of, once again, Andrus putting time in his playbook and ultimately us putting him in a position to take advantage of his talents."

Michael Rector
Position: WR
Rivals rating: 3-star
Position ranking: N/A
Author's Comment: Lot of buzz on his potential from people around the program.

Hamilton's take: "Before he sustained a minor knee injury he had an opportunity to
compete to get a spot in our rotation at wide out. So he's a kid that we're planning to redshirt at this point, but his speed and athleticism and ability to make big plays in the passing game is going to offer us another weapon - a much needed weapon in the passing
game."

Barry Sanders
Position: RB
Rivals rating: 4-star
Position ranking: 9
Author's Comment: If Stepfan Taylor had left early for the NFL, there's a good chance Sanders would be the starting running back right now.

Hamilton's take: "Barry is just a special, special player with the ball in his hands, but in order to step on the field for us here at Stanford, you need to be able to play without the ball. As soon as he learns protections and can get a better sense of all the responsibilities that we ask our running backs to manage, he's going to have an opportunity to be a special player for us."

Graham Shuler
Position: OL
Rivals rating: 4-star
Position ranking: 21 (OT)
Author's Comment: Potential replacement for Sam Schwartzstein at center.

Hamilton's take: "Really smart guy, really cerebral. Has a good understanding of our offense considering he is a true freshman and as soon as he gets bigger and stronger, he'll be a guy that can compete to play."

Kodi Whitfield
Position: WR
Rivals rating: 4-star
Position ranking: 48
Author's Comment: Still waiting to make his first college catch. Expect it to
come this week against WSU.

Hamilton's take: "Kodi Whitfield is a dynamic route runner and very explosive, very
quick - probably ahead of most freshmen wide receivers that we've had come in the past few years. I expect him to finish strong in the
second half of the season, to be a guy that can make plays for us in the passing game."

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