By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Alex Carter has had a personal football coach all his life. It's no wonder he ended up at one of the elite schools in the nation.
The Stanford freshman cornerback earned his first start in Saturday's 21-3 victory over California on Saturday and Cardinal coach David Shaw said it was very likely he'd get another start when No. 19 Stanford (3-1, 5-2) hosts Washington State (0-4, 2-5) this Saturday at 3:15 p.m.
His coach also doubled as his father, the former No. 1 draft pick of the Washington Redskins Tom Carter, who played cornerback for three NFL teams in a career that lasted from 1993-2001.
"There was so much football talk at home, my mom (Renee) got mad at us," Carter said Tuesday. "He coached me and helped me get better."
Tom Carter graduated from Notre Dame, but Alex Carter was even tempted to follow in his father's footsteps.
"Nope, too cold," Carter said. "I wanted to go somewhere warm, and that left Florida, Texas or California."
Carter said he knew he wanted to go to Stanford since he was in middle school. The Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year zeroed in on the Cardinal because of his father as well, who discussed academics and athletics.
The Carter family was in South Bend when Stanford played Notre Dame two weeks ago and only his mother wore Stanford gear. His father and sisters stuck with Irish wear.
Carter did get one acknowledgment out of his dad, who told his son 'you were robbed' when Stepfan Taylor's apparent overtime touchdown was whistled dead at the one.
ONE PASS, ONE TOUCHDOWN: Redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan attempted his first pass in the win over the Bears and it resulted in a nine-yard touchdown to tight end Levine Toilolo.
"It was exciting," Hogan said. "It's the first time I got the opportunity to throw the ball and the line sold the run well."
During his redshirt season Hogan made sure to pay attention to everything Andrew Luck had to say and do and he thinks it has paid dividends as Shaw and his coaching staff has developed a set of plays for Hogan.
"I learned how to manage the pocket, how to manage bad plays, how to manage a lot of rules and how to manage protection," Hogan said of his association with Luck. "Really, I learned how to be a leader."
Hogan's presence doesn't mean he has moved into the primary backup role behind Josh Nunes though. Brett Nottingham remains listed as the No. 2 quarterback and Shaw said he's looking for ways to use the backup.
"Brett is ready to go if we need him," Shaw said. "I would love to get Brett in a game. He has done great things in practice."
THE SPIDER GUY: Cardinal redshirt junior fullback Ryan Hewitt carries a hefty amount of golden hair on his head, but it's not entirely because of the graduated Owen Marecic, who also wore long golden hair while at Stanford.
"A little bit Owen, but also (former Stanford safety) Bo McNally, who had a nice head of hair," Hewitt said. "Plus my dad, who wore a ponytail when he was younger. I've seen the pictures."
The former tight end also had his own play, known as "Spider 3 Y Banana," in which he hooked up with Andrew Luck for a number of touchdowns.
Stanford doesn't run that play much any more because teams have caught on and because the play was featured on Jon Gruden's Quarterback Camp show on ESPN when Luck was his guest.
Hewitt still gets recognized for it though.
"I'll be out somewhere and someone will say 'That's the spider guy,'" he said.
IMPACT PLAYER: Fifth-year senior outside linebacker Chase Thomas has been named a quarterfinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, the first and only college football award to equally recognize athletic performance and the personal character attributes of the player.
Thomas currently leads Stanford with 42 total tackles and 28 solo tackles, and he is tied for the team lead with 9.0 tackles for loss. He has recorded 3.5 sacks from the outside linebacker position, forced a fumble and recovered two more fumbles -- one for a defensive touchdown at Notre Dame.
Thomas has one interception, which came in overtime of the Cardinal's 54-48 win versus Arizona. Last year a 2011 Sporting News All-American, Thomas has been named a 2012 SI.com Midseason All-American.
Named after Pro Football Hall of Fame member, Ronnie Lott, The Lott Trophy is awarded to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. The Lott Trophy is given to the player who exhibits the same characteristics Lott embodied during his distinguished career: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.