Sports

Eklund chooses Stanford

"It didn’t take Decatur senior Ryan Eklund long to ponder Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham’s offer of a full-ride scholarship to play football for the Cardinal.Willingham met Eklund and his parents, Bill and Suzie, during Ryan’s official visit to the Palo Alto campus last weekend. Willingham wanted to emphasize that as a quarterback at Stanford, Ryan would be a leader both on and off the field.“He wanted to make sure I was on the same page as him. He said you’ve got to keep up the academics,” Ryan Eklund said. “He doesn’t promise anybody playing time he promises opportunity. There’s no for sure type of thing.”With that, Willingham offered Eklund a scholarship.A handshake later, Eklund unofficially joined Stanford. “He offered me right there and I said yeah, I’d love to,” Ryan Eklund said. “It’s totally a dream come true. You can’t beat a Stanford education plus to play football for a Rose Bowl team. It’s totally an awesome surprise right now. I just loved the place. I couldn’t pass it up.”The official first signing day for high school seniors is Feb. 2.The decision wasn’t that tough to make for Eklund.“I think Ryan, all the time in the back of his mind, wanted to go there,” his father said. “I think Stanford kind of stands out.”Eklund’s grade-point average approaches 4.0, which helped him surpass Stanford’s rigorous academic standards. He’s leaning toward studying pre-med to become an orthopedic surgeon.Both Ryan and his father are somewhat stunned at the turn of events over the past three years. As a sophomore, Ryan turned out for the Decatur golf team with little success. He moved to football as a junior. Despite throwing for more than 1,700 yards, he was nowhere close to possessing the form of a Pac-10 quarterback. That summer he worked on throwing, attending passing camps, including the one at Stanford.As a senior, he showed marked improvement and threw for more than 2,100 yards. He earned Associated Press All-State first-team honors.“I never could have imagine this. We’re very proud of him,” Bill Eklund said of the progress Ryan made. “He couldn’t have done it without the support in the community and his teachers and teammates.”Stanford graduates is starting quarterback, Todd Husak, who led the Cardinal to an 8-4, season. The Cardinal finished ranked 24th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ poll after losing to Wisconsin, 17-9, in the Rose Bowl.Junior Joe Borchard was No. 2 on the Stanford depth chart at quarterback. He is expected to be offered a lucrative baseball contract this spring. Randy Fasani, another junior, was the other quarterback on Stanford’s three-deep chart.Aside from the academic and athletic promise the school offers, the scholarship Eklund earned is an on obvious bonus for his parents. The cost of a Stanford education runs about $36,000 a year.“He’ll get five years there, so he could get his masters,” Bill Eklund said. “It’s a great break for us and a great opportunity for Ryan.”"

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