All the hope and promise of the preseason materialized Monday as Stanford opened its football camp at Palo Alto High.
Over the course of three-plus hours, players performed with exuberance as about 20 well-wishers watched from the bleachers on a sweltering morning.
"There is a lot more energy, a lot more winning attitude," senior cornerback Richard Sherman said. "Some people still might not say this, but there is a lot more people looking for a national championship — goals that most college teams have. We didn't have that goal before."
Coach Jim Harbaugh likes to instill that kind of confidence. In his third season at Stanford, he says players are realizing their potential.
"We're throwing off some baggage here," he said of a team that finished 5-7 last season. "We're decreasing drag. Throwing it off the plane. The meetings are sharper. Guys were up out of bed and eating when they were supposed to."
Stanford is taking advantage of Palo Alto High's synthetic turf field to prepare for a similar surface at Washington State where the Cardinal open the season Sept. 5. The Cardinal will move to its practice field Saturday.
Harbaugh praised quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Tavita Pritchard: "Really sharp, really good retention. There's no doubt they worked really hard this summer and got better, both physically and mentally."
Who impressed Harbaugh on day one? "David DeCastro knocked my socks off," the coach said of his freshman center. "Playing square, physical and strong." ... Lineman Allen Smith still isn't ready to play. After starting 20 games, Smith missed most of the past two years because of injuries. He reinjured a knee in April and hopes he can play sometime this season. ... Sophomore safety Taylor Skaufel is out after pulling knee ligaments this summer after crashing a dirt bike.
— Elliott Almond