Stanford signed an extremely small recruiting class that consisted of just 12 players because so few players left the program, leaving only a limited number of scholarships.
The small number of signees on Wednesday led to a relatively low ranking by the recruiting services, with Rivals.com ranking Stanford's class 63rd in the country and Scout.com pegging it at No. 56. Both services ranked Stanford's class 11th in the Pac-, ahead of only Colorado.
That's a far cry from the Stanford's 22-player class of 2012, which was ranked fifth in the country by Rivals.com and seventh by Scout.com.
However, the average rating of the players Stanford signed this year was still relatively high, ranking fifth best among Pac-12 schools.
The Cardinal added a quality linebacker in Peter Kalambayi of Matthews, N.C., but perhaps more important is that it addressed its need at wide receiver and tight end. Wide receiver Francis Owusu, the younger brother of former Stanford wide receiver Chris Owusu, should get a chance to play immediately, because the Cardinal desperately needs a play-maker at wide receiver.
"Offensively, we believe that we've added exciting firepower," said head coach David Shaw. "Ryan Burns is a big, athletic, strong-armed quarterback, and he is joined by Francis Owusu, who is one of the most explosive wide receivers in the nation."
Burns is rated the 108th overall prospect in the nation by Rivals.com, but with returning QB Kevin Hogan being just a redshirt freshman last season, Burns does not figure to get much playing time for a while.
Owusu should get playing time immediately, as will at least one of the trio of tight ends Stanford signed -- Austin Hooper of out of powerhouse De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif, Greg Taboada of Atlanta, Ga., and Eric Cotton of Nampa, Idaho.
Stanford has had three outstanding tight ends in Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo the past two years. Fleener was a first-round pick last year, and Ertz is a good bet to be a first-rounder this year. Toilolo is expected to be taken early in the 2013 draft as well.
"People have asked me the last few years, 'Where do you find those tight ends?'" said Shaw, "We believe that we have three guys in this class who can be as productive in the running game and passing game as Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo were for us."
The fact that one-quarter of the class is made up of tight ends indicates how important that position is to Stanford's scheme, which often uses two or three tight ends at a time to create its power running game while utilizing the tight ends as the primary receivers in the passing game.
The Cardinal focused on offensive linemen last year, but added just two offensive linemen and no defensive linemen this time.
OLB Peter Kalambayi (Butler High School, Matthews, N.C) - The 6-for-2, 240-pound Kalamayi is the highest rated of the players signed by Stanford. He is ranked the nation's No. 97 recruit by Rivals.com and No. 131 by Scout.com. He is also the only USA Today All-American among the Cardinal recruits, and was one of five finalists for the high school Butkus award. He can play both inside and outside linebacker, but figures to be an outside linebacker at Stanford.
WR Francis Owusu (Christian Oaks High School, Oxnard, Calif.) -- Owusu is rated the nation's 101st overall prospect by PrepStar and 178th by Rivals.com. He caught 50 passes for 935 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior and also rushed seven times for 206 yards and two touchdowns. He was a member of the 400-meter CIF Southern Section Champion relay team as a junior. The 6-foot-3, 193-pound Owusu, is the younger brother of former Stanford wide receiver Chris Owusu. He should get a chance to play as a freshman.
LB Kevin Palma (Mission Oak High School, Pixley, Calif.) - Parma is ranked as the 10th best middle linebacker in the nation and 196th overall player by Scout.com, although he is unranked by Rivals.com. A big-play linebacker, Palm had 19 tackles for losses as a senior, including eight in one game.
QB Ryan Burns (Stone Bride High School, Leesburg, Va.) -- The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Ryan is ranked as the sixth-best dropback quarterback and the 108th prospect overall by Rivals.com. Burns has a strong arm and is mobile enough to run as well. He threw for 2,530 yards as a senior, and his team was 51-6 during his four high school seasons. He did not play in the pro-style offense Stanford runs but showed during a Stanford camp that he can handle that system.
--Mike Bloomberg was promoted from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator for Stanford, replacing Pep Hamilton, who was named offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts. With the Colts, Hamilton will again coach Andrew Luck, who was Stanford's quarterback in Hamilton's first season as the Cardinal's offensive coordinator. Bloomberg will retain his duties as offensive line coach. He had been the Cardinal's run-game coordinator last season.
--TEs Levin Toilolo and Zach Ertz announced on the same day they were turning pro and would not return to Stanford next season. Ertz's decision was expected, but Toilolo was considered about a 50-50 shot to stay. Their loss is a significant one, because tight end was the strongest position on the team. The Cardinal relied heavily on Ertz and Toilolo for a lot of what it did offensively.
LOOKING AHEAD TO SPRING PRACTICE
Practice priorities: New offensive coordinator Mike Bloomberg needs to install the wrinkles he wants, although the Cardinal does not figure to change its personality from a physical, run-first team.
The Cardinal seems set at quarterback for the next few years with Kevin Hogan being a redshirt freshman, although he still has plenty of room to improve, especially throwing the deep ball.
Stanford needs to find a replacement for departed tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo, who were the chief passing targets last season.
The Cardinal also needs to find a running back replacement for Stepfan Taylor. Although there are plenty of candidates, Barry Sanders will get a close look after redshirting the 2012 season as a freshman.
Not much tinkering is needed on defense, where many of the key players and coaches return.
The Cardinal has played in BCS games each of the past three seasons, and won two of them, including a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin this past season.
Stanford starts spring practice Feb. 25, and the Spring Game will be played April 13 at Stanford Stadium.
QUOTE: ""When you look at our 2013 class, you will see size. You will see athleticism. You will see toughness. We made it a point in this class to find tight ends and linebackers who can physically do what we need, and we're excited about the guys we found." - Stanford coach David Shaw on the Cardinal's 2013 recruiting class.
KEY LOSSES: TE Zach Ertz, TE Levine Toilolo, RB Stepfan Taylor, OLB Chase Thomas.
PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2013:
QB Kevin Hogan - He went 5-0 as a starter as a redshirt freshmen, with four of the wins coming against ranked teams. He completed 71.7 percent of his passes and also rushed for 263 yards. He is still raw and can improve his throwing, but provides a dimension of versatility and creativity that should make the Cardinal offense productive.
OLB Trent Murphy - A first-team all-conference selection as a redshirt junior, Murphy led the team in sacks (10), tackles for loss (18) and quarterback hurries (eight). He also intercepted a pass and forced a fumble.
DE Ben Gardner - Gardner had 7.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss as a redshirt junior, while earning all-Pac-12 first-team honors. He may be the conference's best defensive lineman next season.
S Ed Reynolds - The safety position was a concern entering the 2012 season, but Reynolds took over and became a big-play defender. He intercepted six passes and had 301 return yards after those picks. He returned three of those interceptions for touchdowns, and came within a half-yard of making it four.
--WR Drew Terrell was named the MVP of the Casino del Sol College All-Star game played in Douglas, Ariz. Terrell had 59 receiving yards, including one catch for 49 yards, and also had a 34-yard punt return.
--ILB Shayne Skov announced he will return to Stanford next season as a fifth-year senior rather than enter the NFL Draft.