STANFORD -- Coach David Shaw needed a single word to sum up his assessment of tight end Austin Hooper early in training camp. Asked whether he's more impressed with Hooper's receiving skills or his blocking ability, Shaw responded: "Yes."

The redshirt freshman from De La Salle High is doing everything well -- so well that he already has locked down a starting spot at a position of vital importance for Stanford.

The program that had three tight ends drafted in 2012-13 (Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo) received little production from the position last season. A makeshift group combined for just 10 catches and no touchdowns.

Hooper could turn Stanford back into Tight End U.

"Last year, I was learning where to line up and where to go," he said. "Now, I understand the nuances of how to get there. Most of it is second nature."

The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder serves as the Y tight end, who lines up next to a tackle and is used as both a blocker on running plays and receiver on passing downs.

Regardless of the situation -- whether it's third-and-15 or fourth-and-1 -- Hooper will be on the field.

"We don't feel like we have to replace him," Shaw said.

"We want him to be a complete tight end, be a physical blocker at the line of scrimmage and also make big catches in the regular field and the red zone."


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  • Two-thirds of the defensive line is set with end Henry Anderson and nose tackle David Parry. Blake Lueders and Aziz Shittu are competing for the vacancy, while Luke Kaumatule, who converted from tight end in the middle of last season, is the front-runner for the fifth slot in the rotation.

    "We need six," Shaw said.

    The list of candidates to fill out the rotation includes Jordan Watkins, Nate Lohn and freshman Solomon Thomas.

  • Backup quarterback Evan Crower has "continued what he did early in the spring," Shaw said. Translation: Crower will get the call in the event of an injury to starter Kevin Hogan.

  • Remound Wright, expected to compete for playing time at tailback, will rejoin the team next week. He has been suspended since the spring for an undisclosed disciplinary violation.

  • Asked which of the true freshmen have the best chance to play, Shaw offered up one name: Christian McCaffrey. The running back -- and son of former Stanford star Ed McCaffrey -- could contribute on special teams and have a small role on offense.

  • Stanford will conduct its second and final public practice Saturday. The annual Fall Open House begins at 10 a.m. and includes a scrimmage, stadium tours and an autograph session.

    For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at jwilner@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5716.