Of no coincidence, Stanford's rise to perennial contention in the Pac-12 began with a run of outstanding recruiting classes. National Signing Day 2018 turned out to be quieter on The Farm than recent years, when Stanford landed classes ranked in the top 25 nationally. But a smaller group of newcomers added to the defending Pac-12 North champion's ranks still contains potential difference-makers.
The Cardinal look to hold off reloaded Washington, rebounding Oregon, a Washington State team with three straight nine-win seasons, and improved Cal. Although Stanford's been a program more reliant on established veterans than first-year impact players, the 2018 signing class has some potential contributors to the Cardinal's pursuits of a fifth Pac-12 Championship Game appearance.
Thomas Booker, DE
Stanford's outstanding defensive lines in recent years flourished with dominant pass-rushers. The next Trent Murphy or Solomon Thomas could emerge from the 2018 signing class, and one candidate is Thomas Booker.
Booker, a highly touted 4-star prospect from the Baltimore area, chose Stanford over rival Notre Dame. He racked up nine sacks in his junior and senior seasons at Gilman High School, according to GoStanford.com.
Andres Fox, DE
Another talented addition to the Stanford defensive line, Fox opted for Stanford over his home state Auburn Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide. His 6-foot-4, 245-pound frame will only fill out further in the Stanford weightlifting program.
Tanner McKee and Jack West, QBs
Quarterback K.J. Costello broke out late in the season for the Cardinal, powering Stanford's return to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Costello returns for 2018, but with the transfer of Keller Chryst – who shared snaps with Costello for the first half of the campaign – having a backup prepared will be an offseason priority. This is especially the case with reports that Costello will sit out spring practice due to a hip injury.
What's more, preparing the line of succession is vital for the long-term forecast for the Cardinal. When Andrew Luck left after the 2011 season, initial unrest at the position held Stanford back. Ditto in 2016 upon Kevin Hogan's departure. The competition between McKee and West, two four-star prospects, shapes the future for Stanford football.
Kendall Williamson, CB
Stanford's secondary faced unexpected struggles in 2017. Combined with the departure of Quenton Meeks for the NFL, reshaping the unit will take precedent ahead of 2018. Three-star prospect Kendall Williamson could factor into the rotation with returners Alijah Holder and Frank Buncom IV.