Sports

Kimble makes his mark on Stanford football

Senior running back nears 2,000 career yards

Stanford senior Anthony Kimble has made a success of running away; mostly from defensive players and has proven elusive.

With Toby Gerhart grabbing headlines with his pursuit of the school single-season rushing record, and with the Cardinal's rushing success, it would be easy to assume Kimble hasn't been given his due.

"Anthony has seen dark days with the offensive line not giving him a chance," Stanford senior center Alex Fletcher said. "His talent has not shown much his first two years because of our inabilities. Anthony will be playing football for a long time; there's no doubt about it."

Kimble led the team in rushing the past two years, and is enjoying a career year. He may be the "other" running back in Stanford's offense but he need not play second fiddle to Gerhart.

"He is going to have a career on Sundays," Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He's been outstanding and he's having another outstanding season. He has shown he's physical by the yards he makes after the tackle. He's tough to bring down, he's made the big plays at critical times and he puts the ball into the end zone."

Kimble has rushed for 688 yards this season, which would have led the Cardinal in all but five seasons since Tommy Vardell set the school record with 1,084 in 1991.

"I am all about winning," Kimble said. "I've talked to guys who graduated the last couple of years and these are guys who went their whole careers here who weren't even able to see the light. We're not there yet but we can seethe light. We can do a lot for this program on Saturday. I won't be satisfied unless we get to a bowl game."

Kimble's 1,911 career rushing yards places him eighth on Stanford's all-time list, ahead of Vardell. Only seven other runners have gained over 2,000 career rushing yards at Stanford and Kimble could join that group this week.

That's the less of his concerns at the moment.

"When you're coming out of high school to play Pac-10 football, your attitude is we'll be the guys who turn the program around," Kimble said. "This week it's bigger than one game; it's bigger than just Cal. I've never beaten Cal. The team did but I didn't play last year. This is big for our program. This is for what we were hoping to do since we've been here. This game means more to us than any year before."

Call me coach

Tavita Pritchard and Bo McNally have already discussed coaching a high school football team together somewhere like Texas, a state which takes its football seriously.

Harbaugh believes there are dozens of current players who could go on to coach, teach and lead.

Harbaugh also hopes they'll have the experience of a bowl game to draw from. That will only happen if Stanford (4-4, 5-6) beats host California (4-3, 6-4) on Saturday in the Big Game, with a scheduled kickoff at 12:30 p.m.

"An extra game means extra practices," Harbaugh said. "It's almost an extension of spring ball and that's a piece that has been missing here for a long time."

Fletcher, who has become a media favorite because of his ability to break down defenses from watching game film, hasn't given coaching much thought but acknowledged a "love of the preparation and practice."

Pritchard said its easy to determine who among his teammates would make good coaches, or have intentions of coaching.

"Coach (David) Shaw said when he was in college people were calling him 'coach' when he was a junior," Pritchard said. "You get a feel for a guy who understands the game. 'Fletch' has that understanding; he has a passion for the game. It's been a great experience playing with him. He's done a tremendous job of rallying guys during practice."

Pritchard said he wouldn't want to be a lineman if Fletcher were the line coach but that players today won't have to worry because "Alex is going to be playing for awhile."

As far as his coaching staff, Pritchard would name himself the Offensive Coordinator and McNally would be the Defensive Coordinator. Who's the head coach?

"Me, of course," said Pritchard.

Harbaugh said Fletcher "has been a real job to coach: his emotions, his talent, his leadership ability and his fire. Sometimes unpredictable and wild in a way I can relate to."

Harbaugh predicts Fletcher will play center in the NFL.

"What attracts teams to Alex is his toughness, his intelligence and his ability," Harbaugh said.

Et cetera

Stanford senior defensive end Pannel Egboh confirmed that he has been invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game. Other Stanford seniors will likely join him . . . Pritchard called The Big Game "a playoff game essentially. We lose, the season is over. We win, we move on. This season will be a success if we win on Saturday." . . . The Big Game is tied for the 10th longest rivalry in Division I football . . . Cal has won five of the past six Big Games.

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