Stanford Opens Spring Practice Today

March 1, 2010

STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford will get an early jump on the 2010 football season as it opens spring practice today on Elliott Field.

The Cardinal will hold their first of 16 spring practices today beginning at 4:00 p.m. on Elliott Field. The team will also work out on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and next Monday before taking a break for finals. The team's second spring session will get underway on March 30.

The 2010 Cardinal and White Spring Game is slated for April 17 at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.

Here's some notebook items pertaining to the Cardinal heading into spring drills...

Stanford Football Spring Notebook

Stanford Returns 43 Letterwinners and 17 Starters
Stanford will open spring practice with 43 letterwinners returning from last year's team, including 20 on defense, 19 on offense and four specialists.Included in the group are 17 players who started seven or more games last season, including eight on the offensive side of the ball, six on defense and three specialists.

The Cardinal loses 16 letterwinners from last year's Sun Bowl unit, including seven on offense and nine on defense. Stanford must replace seven players who started seven or more games last season, including three on offense and four on defense.

Last Year's Record
Stanford finished the 2008 season with an 8-5 overall mark and tied for second in the Pac-10 Conference with a 6-3 record. the Cardinal earned a trip to the Brut Sun Bowl, where it dropped a 31-27 decision to the Oklahoma Sooners.Stanford's final record broke a string of seven straight losing seasons dating back to the 2002 campaign. Stanford's six conference wins were its most since the 2001 squad finished 6-2 and tied for second in the Pac-10 Conference.

Stanford Opens Season on Sept. 4 Against Sacramento State
Stanford will open the 2010 campaign on Sept. 4 with a home date against Sacramento State, marking the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Cardinal will open Pac-10 Conference play in week two when it visits the Rose Bowl for a date with the UCLA Bruins on Sept. 11. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons' first trip to Stanford Stadium on September 18 will precede Stanford's visit to Notre Dame on Sept. 25.

All told, Stanford will play seven home games and five road games, with the annual Big Game against California slated for Dec. 4 in Berkeley.

Offensive Personnel
Stanford welcomes back 19 letterwinners on offense, including eight starters (seven or more games)--C Chase Beeler, OL David DeCastro, QB Andrew Luck, FB Owen Marecic, OL Jonathan Martin, WR Chris Owusu, OL Andrew Phillips and WR Ryan Whalen...Beeler, DeCastro, Martin and Phillips keyed an offensive line that allowed the second fewest sacks (7) in the nation last year while paving the way for the most productive ground game in school history that averaged 218.2 yards a game (2,837 total) last season...Beeler earned second team All-Pac-10 honors...Phillips, DeCastro and Martin were honorable mention all-conference selections...Luck should receive strong preseason consideration for the Davey O'Brien Award after passing for 2,575 yards and 13 TDs last year as a freshman...Marecic has earned all-conference honorable mention marks in each of his first three seasons and is widely considered the best blocking fullback in the nation...Whalen has led the team in receiving each of the last two seasons and caught 57 passes for 926 yards and four TDs as a junior.Other key offensive personnel returning to the fold in 2010 include RB Tyler Gaffney, TE Coby Fleener, WR Chris Owusu, TE Konrad Reuland, RB Jeremy Stewart and RB Stepfan Taylor.

Key losses include Doak Walker Award winner and Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart (1,871; 28 TDs); TE Jim Dray (11 catches, 149 yards, 3 TDs); and OT Chris Marinelli (first team All-Pac-10; second team AP All-America).

Defensive Personnel
Stanford returns 20 letterwinners including six starters from last year's defensive unit...the returning starters include DT Sione Fua, S Delano Howell, DE Thomas Keiser, LB Shayne Skov, CB Richard Sherman and DE Chase Thomas...Fua has played in 37 career games (18 starts) and earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 marks last season...Howell finished as the team's second leading tackler in his first season at the strong safety position...Keiser has 15.0 sacks in 25 career games...Skov started the last seven games at 'will' linebacker as a freshman and finished as the team's third leading tackler with 62 total stops...Sherman, a former wide receiver, ranked fifth on the team in total tackles with 52 and tied for team lead with two interceptions...Thomas started the last eight games of the year at defensive end and finished his first season with 36 total tackles.

Other key returning defensive personal include LB Chike Amajoyi (six starts; 56 tackles); CB Johnson Bademosi (started last five in '09); DL Matt Masifilo (limited last year with injury); DT Terrence Stephens (appeared in six games last year); CB Michael Thomas (outstanding special teams player); and CB Austin Yancy (fifth-year senior).

Key losses include DE Erik Lorig (limited to just five games due to injury); LB Nick Macaluso (32 tackles in seven games); FS Bo McNally (team high 83 tackles and two interceptions); LB Will Powers (45 tackles; 13-game starter); LB Clinton Snyder (season cut short after eight games with injury); and NG Ekom Udofia (44 career appearances; 39 starts).

Special Teams Personnel
Stanford returns all of its key specialists, with the exception of holder Bo McNally...senior K Nate Whitaker converted on 16-of-22 FG tries last season and earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 marks...junior punter David Green has averaged 40.4 yards in 86 career punts...senior Zach Nolan is expected to hold down the long snapper duties for the third straight season.Junior Chris Owusu earned second team Walter Camp Foundation All-America honors last year as a kickoff returner after averaging 31.5 yards per return, including three touchdowns...Richard Sherman (15 for 154, 1TD) and Drew Terrell (11 for 71) split the punt return duties last season.

Looking to Luck
Sophomore Andrew Luck returns as Stanford's starting quarterback after earning freshman All-America honors by, and Sporting News, to name a few. He was also named the national freshman of the year by

Luck, who was at the helm of the highest scoring offense in school history in terms of total points last season, set a Stanford freshman passing record with 2,575 yards. He completed 162 of 288 passes with just four interceptions to lead the Pac-10 Conference in passing efficiency at 143.5. He also ranked second among conference signal callers in total offense (244.1) and was fifth in passing yards per game (214.6). His 2,929 yards in total offense ranked fifth on Stanford's single-season charts.

He threw for 200 or more yards in six games, topped off by a career high 423-yard effort at Arizona, which ranked as the third-best single-game passing performance in school history.

Whalen and Owusu Form One of Pac-10's Best Receiving Tandems
Stanford returns its top two receivers from a year ago in senior Ryan Whalen and junior Chris Owusu.

A dependable wideout who has led Stanford in receiving each of the last two seasons, Whalen caught a team-high 57 passes for 926 yards and four touchdowns last season, averaging 71.2 receiving yards per game (5th Pac-10). He enters his final campaign with 99 career receptions for 1,445 yards and five touchdowns.

Owusu led the team in touchdown receptions last year with five and finished second in receptions with 37 and receiving yardage (682). He averaged 18.4 yards per catch, which was the highest average on the team among receivers with 10 or more receptions.

The Running Game
After posting two of the top three single-season rushing marks in school history each of the last two seasons, Stanford will look to retool its running game in 2010 with the loss of Doak Walker Award winner and Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart.Gerhart was responsible for 1,871 of Stanford's single-season record 2,837 yards on the ground last season, as Stanford finished second in the Pac-10 and 11th nationally in rushing offense at 218.2 yards per game. Gerhart was also responsible for 28 of Stanford's 39 rushing touchdowns last year.

Stanford's leading returning rusher? Quarterback Andrew Luck, who ran for 354 yards on 61 carries last year.

The Cardinal is hoping a trio of running backs - senior Jeremy Stewart and sophomores Stepfan Taylor and Tyler Gaffney will combine forces to offset the loss of Gerhart. Stewart has missed 10 games over the last two seasons due to injuries and illness. He has rushed for 526 yards in 26 career games.Taylor and Gaffney both saw significant time as true freshmen. Taylor carried 56 times for 303 yards and two touchdowns, while Gaffney rushed for 87 yards on 22 carries. Gaffney will miss spring drills due his commitments with Stanford's baseball team.

The Offensive Line
Stanford returns four of the five members who made up one of the nation's best offensive lines last season. Center Chase Beeler, along with Andrew Phillips, David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin helped pave the way for the most productive rushing attack in school history last season. The line allowed just seven sacks on the year, the second fewest in the nation behind Boise State (5).

Stanford will look to find a way to offset the loss of right tackle Chris Marinelli, who earned first team All-Pac-10 honors last season in addition to being selected as a second team AP All-American, with fifth-year senior Derek Hall, junior Tyler Mabry and redshirt freshman Kevin Danser the leading candidates.

Three of Four Top Tacklers Return from a Year Ago
Stanford returns three of its four top tacklers from the 2009 season, including strong safety Delano Howell, sophomore linebacker Shayne Skov and cornerback Richard Sherman.

Howell, who earned honorable mention all-conference honors last season, finished second on the team behind Bo McNally with 78 tackles in his first season at the free safety position. He also tied for the team lead with two interceptions and led the team in tackles in each of the last four regular season games, totaling 36 stops during that stretch.

Skov earned honorable mention freshman All-America accolades from after finishing third on the team in tackles with 62. He appeared in all 13 games as a true freshman and started the last seven contests of the season at will linebacker and recorded a career-high 15 tackles against Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl.

After transitioning from wide receiver to the secondary last spring, Sherman finished as the team's fourth leading tackler in '09 with 62 stops. He also recorded two interceptions on the year, including one for a 43-yard touchdown against USC.Senior Sione Fua (6-18-24), junior Thomas Keiser (28-19-47) and sophomore Chase Thomas (20-16-36) return upfront.

Stanford will look to offset the loss of free safety Bo McNally, a two-year captain who led the team in tackles each of the last three seasons.

New Looks
Chase Thomas, who started eight games at defensive end last season as a redshirt freshman, will switch to linebacker in Vic Fangio's 3-4 defense. Fullback Owen Marecic will work primarily at middle linebacker this spring.

Fifth-Year Seniors
Stanford has 10 fifth-year seniors on its spring roster, including C Chase Beeler, DL Brian Bulcke, DL Joe Dembesky, OL Derek Hall, LS Zach Nolan, OG Andrew Phillips, TE Konrad Reuland, CB Richard Sherman, K Nate Whitaker and S Austin Yancy, along with one sixth-year senior, OL James McGillicuddy.

Cardinal Welcome Four New Members to Its Coaching Staff
Stanford added four members to its coaching staff in the offseason, including three new defensive coaches, one offensive coach and one special teams coordinator.Vic Fangio will assume the role of defensive coordinator and linebackers coach after spending the last 24 years coaching in the NFL, including the last four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. He also has 11 years of experience as a defensive coordinator for three NFL teams, including the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.

One of the most respected coaches in the collegiate ranks, Randy Hart enters his first season on the Stanford staff as defensive line coach following a one-year stay at Notre Dame, where he served in the same capacity. The 2010 season will mark Hart's 41st year as a collegiate coach, with stops at six other schools, including Tampa, Iowa State, Purdue, Ohio State, Washington and Notre Dame. Hart has been a member of 22 bowl teams in his collegiate coaching career, including six Rose Bowl teams.

Brian Polian enters his first season at Stanford as the Cardinal's special teams coordinator after spending the previous five campaigns serving on the coaching staff at Notre Dame. During his five seasons with the Irish, Polian headed up Notre Dame's special teams units while also assisting with coaching duties with the defensive backs and linebackers.

Derek Mason enters his first season as defensive backs coach after serving as the assistant defensive backs coach with the Minnesota Vikings for the last three seasons.

In addition, Greg Roman was promoted to associate head coach and assistant head coach of the offense. He will continue to work with the tight ends and offensive tackles.

David Shaw will now work with the running backs, in addition to his duties as offensive coordinator.

Ron Lynn, who served as assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator for the last two seasons, will assume the role of director of player personnel.

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