Stanford did it again on Monday. The storied Pac-12 program went across the country and pulled in one of the nation's top running backs.
Brendon Barrow announced the commitment to Stanford over dozens of additional options in an exclusive announcement with SI All-American.
"It's just been a dream of mine since I was a kid," he said of the program. "The academics, I haven't heard another school better than them in that aspect and I haven't heard another school better than them for a place that can help you succeed or help set you up for the next 40 years of your life.
"That's always been my goal, to be set up for success after University, after I'm out of my mom's house. I feel like this is the best opportunity to do that."
As he detailed in the video announcement, Barrow is both aware and active in the current dialogue surrounding social unrest in America at this time. It was another point in which Stanford separated itself from other programs on his long list of options.
"The coaching staff is amazing," he said. "They're truly supportive of anything I feel like I can talk to them about anything. Especially about this movement, for one. They were one of the first schools that talked to me about it and saw how I felt with everything that was going on. Especially with there being a black head coach (David Shaw) and my position coach (Ron Gould) being a black coach.
"They had very strong feelings and opinions about it and it feels good to have someone stand behind me and support my opinions about it."
The conversations in the Barrow household reflected some of the points Shaw and company brought up during these trying times.
"It was eye-opening, it was kind of a heartfelt conversation for sure," Barrow said. "At first you were hurt, but I was just listening to their perspective on it, and their reasons why and kind of how they dealt with it. I think I learned more from listening to them, how to actually make a change rather than build hate towards a situation -- which is something I think everybody should avoid.
"I think they're more looking for a solution in a positive way rather than build hate and not more love in a situation."
The month of August, fittingly capped with a public commitment, was full of hallmark moments for the new Cardinal running back commitment. From official offers going out August 1 to the day he was accepted into the university less than two weeks later, the month won't soon be forgotten.
"I had been thinking about it for a minute," he said of the decision itself. "I actually got academically accepted into the school on my birthday, August 12. Coach Shaw calling me telling me, 'you're accepted.' It just made me so happy because it was my birthday and I kind of accomplished one of my dreams. At the time I was just in awe and in shock that I actually had this opportunity. It took a while to sink in and take in everything. I was like, 'wow!'
"This is the opportunity that I have but I wanted to make sure I wasn't making the decision based off the name. I wanted to make sure it was 100% the right decision -- and it was."
There are considerable ties to the state of California for the Canada native wrapping up his prep career at Clearwater (Fla.) Academy International.
With the COVID-19 pandemic hampering most in-person recruiting activity dating back to March, longtime familiarity with Stanford and the state played a critical role in the eventual commitment.
"If I didn't know California, if I hadn't visited the campus before, I think it would have been a lot harder of a decision for me," Barrow said. "Especially since I'm such a people person. I think me having such a strong love for California, I really do love it, it's one of my homes. I love the people, I love the atmosphere, I love everything about California.
"My mom's from there, I was raised there and with my mom living there it was an even bigger decision. It just seemed like the right thing to do."
With the decision -- and trials that come along with being coveted by 30-plus college programs -- Barrow is excited about the 2020 season and beyond.
"I'm so relieved, a big 'ole boulder was on my back and I just let it go," he said. "I feel free, I can't explain how much stress relief it's caused.
"I just want you guys to know that I'm always going to try to be the best and I'm gonna come harder than I ever have. The thing you can expect out of me is hard work, passion and I'm never going to stop."
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