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Friday, June 28, 2013
Chryst’s Stanford pledge a game-changer

By Jeremy Crabtree

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- Stanford’s argument for being known as Quarterback U just got a whole lot stronger.

The school that has produced NFL signal-callers John Brodie, Jim Plunkett, Steve Dils, John Elway and Andrew Luck has a new member of the fraternity. Keller Chryst, the nation’s No. 1 pocket passer and No. 21 player overall from Palo Alto, Calif., confirmed he committed to the Cardinal when he arrived for the start of the Elite 11 on Friday.

Chryst’s decision was hardly a surprise, as most believed he was leaning toward the Cardinal for quite some time. Even if it’s not a shocker, the ramifications will cause a recruiting ripple effect that will touch a number of schools and players throughout the country.

First things first, though: This is absolutely huge for David Shaw and Stanford.

Quarterback is already the most important position on the field in college football, but being a quarterback at Stanford goes beyond that. Quarterback success is engrained in everything the program is about. Heck, offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren’s official title is Andrew Luck Director of Offense. So yeah, being a quarterback at Stanford is kind of a big deal, and that’s the type of pressure Chryst should thrive under.

This also marks the second season in a row that the Cardinal has been able to lure a highly ranked quarterback. The 2013 class featured Ryan Burns, the nation’s No. 4 pocket passer and No. 64 player overall. The influence of his commitment alone helped Stanford secure the nation’s No. 40 class, even though it only had 12 commitments -- one of the smallest classes in the nation.

However, Chryst’s decision should have a larger impression on the Cardinal’s efforts.

Stanford is going to sign a bigger class in 2014, and other high-profile offensive players will want to play with the nation’s best quarterback. So don’t be surprised if you see Shaw start to zero in on some of the top offensive players and use the momentum gained from Chryst’s commitment.

Who wouldn’t want to catch passes from the best quarterback or block for him?

Chryst’s decision also touches Pac-12 rival USC. There was no question that Chryst was a wanted man by the Trojans and some insiders believed he was their No. 1 priority, regardless of position. It’s essential to sign a quarterback in every class for the Trojans, but it’s especially important for USC this year since there’s a possibility that either Cody Kessler or Max Wittek will transfer following the fall camp competition.

So now what will the Trojans do?

Will they look harder at four-star, dual-threat quarterback Brandon Dawkins (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian)? He impressed earlier this month at the Trojans’ camp and appeared to be next in line if Chryst went elsewhere.

Will USC’s focus shift to another quarterback who hasn’t emerged yet? USC is one of the few schools that can knock on a recruit’s door about any time and catch his attention.

Or will USC pass on a quarterback this year, bank on 2015 commitment David Sills (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) and hope to lure a second passer as part of that class? The 2015 quarterback group is loaded, especially in California, so it’s possible coaches Lane Kiffin and Clay Helton hold off on taking a quarterback this year if they aren’t blown away by anyone.