3-point stance: Rise of the academics?

1. Stanford coach David Shaw told me last April that he and his staff had a shot at nationally prominent recruits who would be the school’s most highly-regarded class ever. Stanford signed seven players Wednesday out of the ESPNU 150 and is 12th in the recruiting rakings. Shaw also said this: “Nobody wants us to be successful. There’s no way. With our academic standards? There’s no way that other schools want to see us have continued success … because if we’re going to be in the top 10 in football perennially, why wouldn’t you come here? How could you say no?”

2. And Stanford isn’t the only one. Vanderbilt, where James Franklin has refused to accept the Commodores perennial role as league doormat, at one point on Signing Day made the ESPNU top 25. Northwestern and Virginia both signed players in the ESPNU 150. Is something afoot here? Are better players getting smarter? Are they more willing to consider their education when deciding where to play?

3. And, now, for your dose of salt. Go back and take a look at the top classes of 2008. There are a lot of hyperlinked names that won’t ring a bell, even among the teams that are playing well. Alabama may have won the BCS Championship, but the three players highlighted are wide receiver Julio Jones, who played like a five-star player, offensive lineman Tyler Love, who played in two games last year, and athlete Burton Scott, who transferred to South Alabama.