Stanford football reeled in its most important recruit – a week after signing day. Tyler Gaffney announced he will return to the Farm for his senior season, after taking a year off to try his hand at professional baseball.
Gaffney, you might recall, was the Cardinal’s second-leading rusher in 2011, tallying 449 yards on the ground. The impressive part? He racked up those yards in just 74 attempts, good for a cool 6.1 yards a carry.
What’s more, his return to school couldn’t come at a better time for all parties involved. Gaffney will hop on board a juggernaut that’s ticketed for a top-5 pre-season ranking. Stanford sees its replacement for Stepfan Taylor gift-wrapped and left on its doorstep.
To be clear, the Cardinal already has a wealth of quality options at running back. But until today it lacked a proven, physical bruiser who can pick up tough yards between the tackles – and has legit speed to boot. Anthony Wilkerson could be that guy, but he has yet to show consistency. Kelsey Young is dynamic, but more of a “scat back” who is best suited for 8-10 touches a game. Barry J. Sanders has all kinds of upside – not to mention the obvious pedigree – but he’ll be getting his first taste of live college football action.
Gaffney is cut more in the Toby Gerhart mode. And the actual Toby Gerhart worked out pretty well, finishing a close second in the Heisman balloting in 2010.
It remains to be seen whether Gaffney becomes the feature back of simply part of a terrific committee. But without question, Stanford’s national title chances got a whole lot better today.