A star quarterback on his high school team, the Horizon Huskies, Stanford initially chose to play for the North Dakota State Bison, an NCAA Division I FCS team. During his time there, the team won the first of its three national championships.
However, he was fourth on the quarterback depth chart, and did not see much playing time his freshman year; the team’s contender status made it unlikely that he would see any playing time in the near future.
So, in a bold move, he packed his bags and returned home where he played for Phoenix College, with the hope that another four-year football program would find him.
Luckily, the gamble paid off when then-SFU head coach Dave Johnson recruited him for the Clan’s 2013 season. And after a tough battle at training camp, he finally snagged his much coveted starting quarterback position.
He stresses, though, that his goals revolve around the team’s success, not individual glory: “I think, as a quarterback, the goal is always to put the team in the best possible chance to win. I’m not really concerned about personal statistics or anything like that. I want to be able to turn this program around, get some wins, some conference wins, and be competitive for years to come.
“Hopefully, [we can] change the culture of what people think about SFU football and take it to the next step,” he added.
Stanford hopes to help drive that culture shift within the team as well. “When I first got here [we had] this culture of accepting mediocrity and losing. We’re trying to change that. We want to be able to excel and succeed, be the best at what we do, so it starts one practice at a time. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I think we’re heading in the right direction.”
At the end of the day, what really matters is how the team plays on the field, and Stanford believes that this too is heading in the right direction towards contender status: “I think that the record doesn’t show it, but we’re really close and it’s frustrating and promising at the same time because we have the people to do it, but [we’re] just a little bit of confidence away from doing it.”
While the frustration of being close, but not putting up results can often lead to an even deeper hole, Stanford does his best to keep his head up. “It can [hurt],” he says. “I try not to show it. I think that each game we’ve gotten better at believing that we can achieve our goals, but it gets frustrating. It’s something that we have to overcome and will overcome.”
Despite going winless so far in their non-conference games, he still believes that the team can contend with anyone in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC): “Going into every game, I felt we’ve been able to be in a position to win. Of course that’s probably biased from someone who’s on the team, but I don’t think we faced a team, and probably won’t, that is that much better than us.
“I think we’ve made mistakes and that’s what’s hurt us the most but [. . .] conference play starts this week, so all our goals that we set in the beginning of the year can still be accomplished,” said the 6’3 quarterback. “We haven’t given up on those goals yet, so we can still go out there, win the conference, and go from there.
“I do [believe winning the conference is possible]. If not this year, then this team will be a pivoting point for future teams and we’ll get it done sooner rather than later,” Stanford added.
At Swangard Stadium, home crowds provide the Clan with even more motivation to move in the right direction. But an away crowd motivates the QB as well.
“For me, I like playing away. I like being able to just go out there and disappoint those other [team’s fans]. I feed off both energies, positive and negative, and it motivates you to either quiet them down or make our own fans louder,” he concluded.
As conference games begin, Stanford will have to channel both the positive and negative energies, and the highs and lows, as he is expected to lead his team to success. He’s been preparing for a long time, and now it’s his time to shine.