So when a 6-foot-5, 301-pound frame is packaged with a true student of the game like David Yankey, it is little surprise that the former Centennial star is finding quick success at Stanford.
A three-time All-Region selection for former Centennial coach Jeff Measor, Yankey earned a spot as Stanford’s starting left guard as a redshirt freshman last fall — starting all 13 games for the Cardinal and playing every meaningful snap for a team that finished as a consensus top 10 squad.
He helped lead Stanford’s ground game to average over 210 yards per game while also providing plenty of time to throw for record setting quarterback Andrew Luck, the eventual No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
“It was definitely an awesome year and a thrill to be in there right away,” said Yankey, who was originally battling for a spot at right tackle before being moved to his current home at left guard. “It’s a whole different level of focus [on the college level], but I put a lot of work in to get to that point and was able to slow the game down.”
Yankey said he used his redshirt year in 2010 to get bigger and stronger like most players, but also kept his nose in Stanford’s playbook — an in depth pro-style scheme with countless plays and formations to learn.
“I think that was the biggest thing just because at Stanford, first-and-foremost, the playbook is very complicated but the team also prides itself on making no mistakes. So knowing that playbook is a must.”
“That next learning curve was knowing the defense, knowing their formation and how the structure of what they are doing affects what the offense is doing. Small things like that affect your technique and how I approach every block.”
The studious approach paid big dividends for Yankey and his teammates. By season’s end the Cardinal offense had averaged 43.2 points per game, they earned a trip to Tempe to play in the Fiesta Bowl, and Yankey was named honorable mention All-Pac 12 and a Freshman All-American by Yahoo! Sports.
Slated to start at left guard again this fall, Yankey’s Stanford team is ranked No. 18 in Coaches’ Poll and will open their season Aug. 31 versus San Jose State.