The West team at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl has just a handful of uncommitted players on the roster, all of whom are highly sought after recruits.
One of them might not be the biggest name of the bunch, but he has impressed his coaches, teammates and even a United States Marine. OL Thomas Oser (North Hollywood, Calif./Harvard-Westlake) also has an impressive offer list that features schools from the Pac-12 and the SEC. Out of the offers he does have, the same three schools he has been eying for months make up the list from which he will choose later this month.
Oregon, Stanford and Vanderbilt -- where Oser's friend and high school teammate, QB Chad Kanoff (North Hollywood, Calif./Harvard-Westlake) is committed -- make up the 6-foot-5, 280-pounder's finalists and all three have something that gives them an edge over the others.
After visiting Oregon in October, the three-star offensive lineman has forged a close bond with the Ducks' long-time offensive line coach Steve Greatwood.
"Out of all the coaches I talk to, coach Greatwood is probably the one I talk the most with," Oser said. "Oregon is a great program that gives their guys all the tools they need to succeed on and off the field. They have some very strong academic programs as well."
With his visit to Oregon in the rear view mirror, Oser recently scheduled his long-awaited official visits to his other finalists.
"I'll be at Stanford the weekend of the [Jan.] 11th and will take my last visit to Vanderbilt on the weekend of the 25th."
After winning their second BCS game in three years on Tuesday, the Cardinal can now rely on their football prowess in addition to their elite academic standing. There has been speculation that the Rose Bowl champions are the favorite should Oser gain admittance, but Oser disputes those claims.
"They have a great program, great academics and have a lot of success along the offensive line,” Oser said. “I like Stanford a lot but to say they are a favorite is false."
If anything, Stanford trails the other two as Oser has a strong relationship with the Oregon staff and has built rapport with other Oregon recruits at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl practices this week. Those ties are not nearly as strong as the ties he has to Vanderbilt. The up-and-coming Commodores' program already had Kanoff on board for the Class of 2013 pushing for Oser to choose the SEC school. Recently, another one of Oser other friends -- fellow Semper Fidelis All-American -- OL Sean Dowling (Fallbrook, Calif./Fallbrook) committed to the Commodores and has joined Kanoff in recruiting Oser.
"It would be great to play with those guys in college. They are both good friends of mine and great players, so it would be nice to team up with them," Oser said. "It's always nice to know people where you are but I have to make the decision that is best for me. If I wind up playing with them, I would be thrilled. If Oregon or Stanford seem like the best place for me, then that's where I will sign."