Stanford mailbag

Eric in Oakland writes: Kevin, I'm not thrilled with Tiger Woods as an honorary captain. Too much bad karma. Thoughts?

Kevin Gemmell: Eric, as a husband and father, I certainly don't endorse the guy's extra-curricular activities. At the same time, he's the biggest sports name of this generation. Only those in the inner-circle will be there when he addresses the team. But don't you think he has something to offer when it comes to making good decisions in life and overcoming adversity? About challenging yourself to be a better person? Since the scandal broke, he's stayed out of the headlines for the wrong reasons and has appeared to be contrite. Now your bad karma concerns could stem from the 2009 Big Game. But Stanford is a much different team and Woods is a much different person. For some of these guys, hearing Woods speak directly to them will be a once in a lifetime experience. And I'm sure coach David Shaw wouldn't have handpicked him if he didn't think he could provide some life lessons/inspiration, which seems to be a common theme among Shaw's honorary captains.

Ashwin in Fremont, Calif., writes: Kevin, how do you anticipate recruiting having to change with the addition of the new Arizona and Washington State (and potentially, ASU) offenses. Stanford's current athletes seemed a bit too slow to handle the Oregon attack, and that was only one game a year. Thanks for the great work!

Kevin Gemmell: Great question, Ashwin. A lot of coaches say they don't worry about what the other guy does -- they just focus on themselves. With Shaw & Co., I really believe that they trust in their scheme, so they are going to recruit to their philosophy and not be too reactionary. Speed is always something you are looking for -- regardless of what you or anyone else runs, so I wouldn't think that suddenly Stanford believes it needs to recruit speed. They've been looking for it for years -- as has everyone else. Unlike the rest of the conference, Stanford is a true national recruiter, so while they have stricter standards, they can open up the recruiting pool to parts of the country other schools don't bother touching. Stockpiling a few extra cornerbacks couldn't hurt, though.

Sam in Los Angeles and Kevin in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., essentially had the same question: Who is going to be the next breakout player (ie. Ben Gardner) for Stanford next year?

Kevin Gemmell: Offensively, I'd like to see what running back Ricky Seale could do with a few more carries. He's nowhere near the size of Jeremy Stewart, but it will be interesting to see if Stanford keeps a four-back rotation. I might be a little biased, since I watched Seale carve up defenses in high school, but I know he's extremely explosive and has tremendous vision. If you're looking for a dark horse who could spell Stepfan Taylor and work into the rotation with Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson, Seale could be one to keep an eye on. Defensively, I'm expecting big things from Devon Carrington next season. He got his reps and took his lumps this year -- but he also showed some outstanding athleticism and very good instincts. If/when it all clicks, he'll be on par with the best safeties in the conference.