Matthew Gutwald may turn out to be the most interesting man among Stanford's latest group of recruits. The Dublin, Calif. resident did not sign one of the 25 national letters of intent the Cardinal football office received Wednesday.
Gutwald, who received offers from colleges across the nation, including six from the Pac-12, but choose to decline them all and commit to Stanford as a preferred walk-on.
The 6-foot-4, 275-pound offensive guard had his heart set on either Stanford or Notre Dame, only making unofficial visits to both schools. Once he learned of his acceptance at Stanford, the decision was easy.
"I came back (from a trip to Notre Dame) and thought about if football wasn't in the picture, which school would I pick," Gutwald told the Cardinal Sports Report. "I had Stanford without a doubt. And then I kind of realized looking back at all my experiences on campus, I felt like that's where home is. And the education is just so incredible you can't even put it into words. That's what set it apart."
Gutwald only makes the current group, rated between 12th and 18th by most recruiting services, stronger.
The Cardinal need to replace three starters along the offensive line and restocked by signing five and adding Gutwald.
Stanford also signed four defensive linemen, a quarterback, a pair of running backs, four cornerbacks, a five-star linebacker, another top linebacker, a pair of tight ends, three wide receivers, a kicker and a long snapper.
"The coaches did an outstanding job traveling across the country and finding these guys," Cardinal coach David Shaw said. "It's tough to get defensive linemen at Stanford. We found four who are bigger now than the seniors who left."
Thomas Schaffer (6-7, 270) of Vienna, Austria, who attended Lake Forest Academy in Illinois, will become the first Austrian to play FBS football.
"When he talks, you hear Arnold Schwarzenegger, which is so cool," Shaw said. "People he knew had parents who attended Stanford."
He's joined by Bo Peek (6-3, 296) from Tampa, Fla., Jovan Swann (6-2, 270) from Greenwood, Ind. and Michael Williams (6-2, 300) from Forth Worth, Texas.
The lack of depth along the defensive line was a major concern for the Cardinal, especially after losing Harrison Phillips to a season-ending injury suffered against Northwestern. Tight end Eric Cotton was asked to switch to defense and he made his debut in the Rose Bowl.
"Competition will be there," Shaw said. "We need these guys to step up and play. I'm excited to have numbers. Summer will be huge for these guys. We've shown we'll play freshmen if they are ready."
The five offensive linemen signed are Devery Hamilton (6-7, 290) of Ellicott City, Md., Henry Hattis (6-6, 270) of Rio Rancho, N.M., Nate Herbig (6-4, 350) of Kalaheo, Hawaii, Dylan Powell (6-3, 270) of New London, Mo. And Clark Yarbrough (6-6, 282) of Rumson, N.J.
"They've termed themselves 'Phat 5,'" Shaw said. "These are five big players, and that also includes Matthew, and I see them developing into what we need."
The secondary was fortified with the signings of Malik Antoine (5-11, 184) of Baton Rouge, La., Treyjohn Butler (5-11, 186) of Rancho Cucamonga, Obi Eboh (6-2, 194) of Southlake, Texas and Andrew Pryts (6-1, 196) of Hermitage, Pa., whose father played as a linebacker at Penn State and had a tryout with the Houston Oilers.
K.J. Costello (6-5, 220), out of Coto de Caza, became the first quarterback signed since Palo Alto grad Keller Chryst two years ago. He and Ryan Burns will get the first chance to earn the starting job.
"They're in the meat of the offense," Shaw said. "We'll give them a great opportunity in the spring. We're going to overload them and see how it goes. We haven't had had a true freshman play there (since Menlo School grad John Paye) and it's tough to play as a freshman. His long-term prognosis is pretty doggoned good. He's bright and will be able to pick up the system as well as anyone we've had."
Offensively, Stanford also signed wide receivers Simi Fehoko (6-4, 190) out of Sandy, Utah, Paxton Segina (6-4, 210) from Austin, Texas and Donald Stewart (6-4, 200) from Hillside, N.J., tight ends Scooter Harrington (6-5, 240) from Riverside, Conn., and Kaden Smith (6-5, 250), still recovering from an ACL injury, out of Flower Mound, Texas, and running backs Dorian Maddox (5-10, 205) out of Bowie, Md. and Trevor Speights (5-11, 207) from McAllen, Texas.
Outside linebacker Curtis Robinson (6-3, 215) from Irvine, is the highest rated player in the class as a five-star prospect. He's joined at the position by Tangaloa Kaufusi 6-3, 220) out of Salt Lake City.
Richard McNitzky (6-1, 215), from San Antonio, was offered as a long snapper. Jet Toner (6-3, 185), from Honolulu, is a kicker and punter.
STANFORD FOOTBALL RECRUITING CLASS
Malik Antoine, CB, 5-11, 184, Baton Rouge, La., University Laboratory
Treyjohn Butler, CB/S, 5-11, 186, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Etiwanda
K.J. Costello QB, 6-5, 220, Coto de Caza, Calif., Santa Margarita Catholic
Obi Eboh, CB, 6-2, 194, Southlake, Texas, Carroll
Simi Fehoko, WR, 6-4, 190, Sandy, Utah, Brighton
Devery Hamilton, 6-7, 290, Ellicott City, Md., Gilman
Scooter Harrington, TE, 6-5, 240, Riverside, Conn., Greenwich
Henry Hattis, OT, 6-6, 270, Rio Rancho, N.M., Cleveland
Nate Herbig, OG, 6-4, 350, Kalaheo, Hawaii, Saint Louis
Tangaloa Kaufusi, OLB, 6-3, 220, Salt Lake City, Utah, East
Dorian Maddox, R, 5-10, 205, Bowie, Md., Gilman
Richard McNitzk, LS, 6-1, 215, San Antonio, Texas, MacArthur
Bo Peek, DT, 6-3, 296, Tampa, Fla., Plant
Dylan Powell, OG, 6-3, 270, New London, Mo., Hannibal
Andrew Pryts, S, 6-1, 196, Hermitage, Pa., Hermitage
Curtis Robinson, OLB, 6-3, 215, Irvine, Calif., Mater Dei
Thomas Schaffer, DE, 6-7, 270, Vienna, Austria, Lake Forest Academy (Ill.)
Paxton Segina, WR, 6-4, 210, Austin, Texas, Vandegrift
Kaden Smith, TE, 6-5, 250, Flower Mound, Texas, Marcus
Trevor Speights, RB, 5-11, 207, McAllen, Texas, Memorial
Donald Stewart, WR, 6-4, 200, Hillside, N.J., Paramus Catholic
Jovan Swann, DE/DT, 6-2, 270, Greenwood, Ind., Center Grove
Jet Toner, K/P, 6-3, 185, Honolulu, Hawaii, Punahou
Michael Williams, DE/DT, 6-2, 300, Forth Worth, Texas, All Saints' Episcopal
Clark Yarbrough, OT, 6-6, 282, Rumson, N.J., Woodberry Forest (Va.)