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May 2, 2012Aziz Shittu hasn't distanced himself from the recruiting process since signing with Stanford in February. In fact, the former five-star defensive lineman has become one of the football program's most vocal recruiters, reaching out to several 2013 Cardinal prospects.
"Basically I love Stanford football and I want my team to be the best team in the country every year, so I know, as does every coach in the country, that to win games you need great players," Shittu said. "I'm trying to get great players to come along with me. That's basically the role I play. I'm not going to blow smoke up anybody's chimney or whatnot. I'm just going to put myself out there and show the personality that I have and show why Stanford's great for me and why it could be great for them too."
Just how does Shittu go about convincing uncommitted prospects that Stanford is a desirable destination? We asked the defensive end to give us his best pitch, as if he were speaking with a four-star linebacker.
"First of all I tell you we're going to make plays together," Shittu said. "I'm definitely going to help you out. Anybody on the defensive side of the ball it's a lot easier to recruit because I can use myself as an example.
"If they want to be with that ride then I'm with them."
But Shittu doesn't anticipate making his biggest impact on Stanford football as a salesman. He's been working out hard in preparation for the start of his college career this summer.
"Pretty much I've been working out like six days a week of football related stuff, working three days with a trainer, too," Shittu said. "Just working hard in school just trying to finish off strong. That's been about it."
Shittu has been following the workout plan suggested by Stanford strength and conditioning coach Shannon Turley, which emphasizes improving football specific strength rather than setting bench press records.
"It's a lot of body weight stuff, being in control of your body," Shittu said. "You don't want to be just a powerlifter because that has nothing to do with football. He incorporates a lot of movements that are football related, so that's really good."
Shittu hasn't neglected the mental side of the game, either. He speaks frequently with Stanford's defensive line coach Randy Hart to try and learn more about playing the defensive end position.
"I talk to Coach Hart at least twice a week just to talk ball with him, watching film of spring ball, knowing my assignments, trying to be as mentally prepared as I can coming in there," Shittu said.
Although Shittu certainly has the pedigree to make an early impact on The Farm, he knows he'll have to shore up certain parts of his game to succeed at the collegiate level.
"Definitely coming in as an incoming freshman, probably the biggest difference from high school is going to be the playing strength," Shittu said. "You're facing guys bigger than you and stronger than you, so definitely improving your technique and your strength is going to be something that I know I'm going to need to improve when I go up there."
When Shittu isn't in the classroom or the weight room, he's found time to make several trips up to Stanford for various events, including a recent admit weekend and Junior Day. Shittu said making the trips has helped him become more comfortable with the school, and also given him the opportunity to meet several potential 2013 Stanford recruits.
"The trips up to Stanford are just getting comfortable with Stanford, getting comfortable with the environment," Shittu said. "I'm pretty comfortable now, I've probably been up there since I've been getting recruited by them 20 times already, so it's just getting a feel for everything. If there's a Junior Day going on, I want to be an example of a 2012 class guy and show the guys my personality and the personality of the guys coming in with me. That's basically what I try to do."
When he arrive on campus permanently this summer, Shittu hopes to make an immediate impact on the program.
"The ultimate goal and what I strive for every day, like everyone else in the class of 2012, they want to be a freshman All-American," Shittu said. "So that's what I'm going to strive for."