This year there was no need for Stanford to artificially hype its football recruiting class for 2012. Once Oklahoma City running back Barry J. Sanders announced his verbal commitment, Cardinal fans began dancing all over campus -- and elsewhere.
Sanders, named one of the top five overall recruits, made it official Wednesday when he sent in his letter of intent, joining 21 other high school seniors who will suit up for Stanford next fall.
Sanders, the son of NFL Hall of Famer Barry Sanders who rushed for 5,037 yards and scored 70 touchdowns during his career at Heritage Hall High, made a great day even better as the Cardinal received letters from 13 prep All-Americans.
Included among those All-Americans are seven of the top-rated offensive linemen in the nation. Five-star prospect Andrus Peat (Tempe, AZ) is listed as the top recruit in the nation by Sporting News and the second-best offensive tackle in ESPNU's Top 150 list. He made his announcement live on ESPN.
Peat is the son of former NFL player Todd Peat and younger brother of Todd Peat, Jr., who plays at Nebraska. Peat was also offered scholarships from Florida State, USC, Arizona, UCLA, Colorado, LSU, North Carolina, Oregon State, Clemson, Washington, Kansas, Tennessee, Auburn, Arkansas, Arizona State, Florida, Notre Dame, Michigan, Texas, Alabama, Miami, and Oregon.
Joshua Garnett (Puyallup, WA) is rated as the No. 2 offensive guard in the nation by Rivals.com. Kyle Murphy (San Clemente, CA) ranks as the third-best offensive tackle in the nation by SuperPrep. Graham Shuler (Franklin, TN), rates as the fourth-best center prospect in the nation by Scout.com.
Brandon Fanaika (Pleasant Grove, UT), is the No. 9 offensive guard in the country and top prospect in the state of Utah. Fanaika is expected to take a two-year mission before enrolling at Stanford in 2014.
Nick Davidson (Eden Prairie, MN) ranks as the No. 23 offensive tackle prospect in the nation and Johnny Caspers (Glen Ellyn, IL) is ranked the No. 42 offensive guard in the country by Scout.com. Davidson's father Jeff Davidson played in the NFL and is currently the Minnesota Vikings' offensive line coach.
"We are excited to welcome one of the best recruiting classes in school history," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "We say that not because of how high this class is rated, but instead because of the combination of ability, intelligence, toughness and character in this class. We cannot wait for these young men to join us this summer and have an immediate impact on our team this season."
Stanford's class was rated a school high 10th best in the nation by Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network. Alabama topped the list, followed by Texas. USC was ranked ninth.
Kodi Whitfield (Los Angeles), the son of former Stanford offensive tackle and 15-year NFL veteran Bob Whitfield, was one of four wide receivers signed by the Cardinal. Whitfield ranks 17th among wide receiver prospects in the nation by PrepStar.
Joining Whitfield will be a pair of wide receivers from Texas in Conner Crane (Lantana, TX) and Dontonio Jordan (Hickory Creek, TX); along with Michael Rector (Gig Harbor, WA).
Top defensive line prospects include Aziz Shittu (Atwater, CA), listed as the 27th-best overall prospect and third-best strong side defensive end in the nation by Rivals.com.
Shittu was an early commit to Stanford but backed up to rethink his decision. After pouring over other offers he went with his first pick all along.
Luke Kaumatule (Honolulu, HI) is listed as the 12th-best end prospect in the nation and Jordan Watkins (Decatur, GA) is rated as high as 14th among the nation's top tackle prospects.
Ikenna Nwafor (Irving, TX), who is listed as the 35th-best defensive tackle in the country by Scout.com and Nate Lohn (Kansas City, MO/Staley HS), rated as the 44th-best strong side defensive end in the nation, will also be key newcomers.
Stanford also landed one of the top linebackers in the country in Noor Davis (Leesburg, FL) along with top safety prospect Alex Carter (Ashburn, VA).
Davis ranks as the No. 2 outside linebacker prospect and 25th-best overall recruit in the nation in ESPNU's Top 150 list and was the 2011 recipient of the High School Butkus Award, given annually to the nation's top prep linebacker.
Listed as the fourth-best safety prospect in the nation by Rivals.com, Carter was also named Virginia's Gatorade State Player of the Year and was ranked as the seventh-best overall athlete in the nation by SuperPrep.
Joining Carter in the secondary will be Zach Hoffpauir (Glendale, AZ) and Drew Madhu (Tampa, FL), while Blake Martinez (Tucson, AZ) will add depth to at the linebackers position.