James Vaugthers and his family got word that David Shaw had been named Stanford’s new head coach only a couple of hours before boarding a plane Thursday to make his official visit to the school. But who Shaw hires as defensive coordinator is probably going to play an even more important role in whether Vaughters honors his commitment and signs with the Cardinal on national signing day.
Vaughters, an AJC Super 11 linebacker from Tucker and the No. 4-ranked player in the state, has been committed to Stanford since last June. But he said after coach Jim Harbaugh left to coach the San Francisco 49ers he may have to reconsider his decision depending on what happened to the coaching staff.
Shaw, Stanford’s offensive coordinator since Harbaugh has been there, was tabbed the new head coach on Thursday.
“We really don’t know that much about him,” Vaughters’ father, Jonathan Vaughters said as they waited for their delayed flight to San Francisco at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Thursday. “I think James and his mother met him while they were out there on his first trip. But, being on the defensive side of the ball, we didn’t really get to know him that well. It’s good that they’ve at least named a head coach and we’ll get a chance to hear his point of view while we’re out there.”
The key with the Vaughters, however, is who is going to be who coaches the defense. Reports out of Stanford Thursday were that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was likely to follow Harbaugh to the 49ers or return to the NFL. That could be a problem.
“We have heard that he’s moving on and we’re a little disappointed about that,” Vaughters said. “I don’t want to call it an issue but it’s certainly a consideration. He was somebody that James really took a liking to and was looking forward to playing with. I think since James is on the defensive side of the ball it’s just as important to find the right defensive coordinator and be able to evaluate that. So that’s another wait-and-see for us. We’ll have to wait and see who gets appointed that job.”
Vaughters is one of 22 commitments Stanford has for the Class of 2011, most of whom are scheduled to be at the school on official visits this weekend. Defensive back Ra’Chard Pippens of Ola is another.
Vaughters said he would confer with his fellow pledges about what to do. A 4.0 student at Tucker, Vaughters chose Stanford for its academic opportunities as much as its football program and has already been accepted into the school. So that is still a strong consideration.
Meanwhile, Georgia Tech and Ohio State finished in a tie for second when Vaughters chose the Cardinal last June. The Vaughters liked defensive coordinator Al Groh and The Institute’s engineering-based curriculum.
Georgia and Alabama were also in Vaughters’ final five. Mr. Vaughters said they’ve heard from all of them — and others — since the news of Harbaugh’s impending departure first surfaced.
“Anything’s possible,” he said of his son deciding to sign elsewhere.
In the meantime, the Vaughters planned on giving Stanford and Shaw their full attention this weekend. They’ll return to Tucker on Sunday and make some decisions shortly thereafter. National signing day is Feb. 2.
“This weekend will give us a chance to hear the plan from the head coach and find out what he’s looking for in a defensive coordinator and what kind of defense they’re going to run,” Jonathan Vaughters said. “We just have a lot of questions right now.”