"North Carolina was a little late in offering," Mr. Thomas said. "Chase's team lost in the semis last Saturday night (31-7 to North Gwinnett) and Chase always wanted to make his decision at the end of the football season. We would have had to wait until Jan. 12 to visit North Carolina. And Stanford and Auburn were always the schools that really stood out as his bookends in terms of his criteria.
"The staff at Stanford was just the best," he said. "Their attitudes, their personality, their commitment to building a winning program from scratch and all they have to offer made the difference. Plus they always did a great job of staying in touch with Chase.
"These coaches just know how to relate to today's kids," he said. "This generation of kids is looking for the pull, not the push...and Stanford's coaches are just different from other coaches, frankly. It really resonated with Chase. The entire university is about the obligation to make every student, not just the athletes, successful. There are so many attributes about the school that were just head and shoulders above most schools.
"Chase was pretty convinced he wanted to go to Stanford when he got back from his official visit (Sept. 22)," Mr. Thomas explained. "The Stanford coaches were just so down-to-earth and they know how to get at the level of their players and the recruits. They really want the best of breed and everyone is involved with recruiting during the visits from the president on down. Everybody there is a winner. Getting into Stanford is one of the toughest things anybody will ever do in their life.
"Chase also liked that the housing is very integrated there," he said. "There aren't any dominant dorms just for athletes. The athletes are mixed in with everyone else just like in the real world. That really impressed us all.
"On Wednesday night, Stanford coaches D.J. Durkin (defensive ends and special teams) and Willie Taggart (running backs) came for a home visit," he said. "They both knew then that Chase would be going to Stanford and Chase had told the Auburn coaches on Tuesday morning that Stanford was his choice. He also notified North Carolina and Kentucky before any announcement was released. The coaches were all very professional and complete gentlemen when they got the news.
We live in a big Auburn town and there are probably ten four-year institutions within a four-hour drive," he said. "People are loyal here, probably to an extreme. Walton High School is the top public school in the state and a lot of our students go to Georgia Tech, Auburn or Georgia. Auburn was certainly a serious consideration. But he just couldn't turn down Stanford.
"Auburn's defensive coordinator, Will Muschamp, was a coach that Chase really liked," he said. "He really loved the guy. When Chase came back from visiting Stanford he said that all of the coaches at Stanford were Will Muschamps. That's how Chase felt. Everyone of them was a Will Muschamp.
"He also really liked how the players interacted with each other on his trip," he said. "And it wasn't just the players. It was how the recruits interacted with each other as well. It was just different at Stanford. All the recruits were together as a team at Stanford. They all really communicated. And he appreciated how the coaches handled the stress at the Oregon game (31-55 loss) when he was there. He liked how they reacted to adversity.
"There certainly was a lot of pressure to stay nearby but Chase never wavered. He was steadfast throughout the entire process and there has been a lot of attention on him here.
"He's so excited about his decision," Mr. Thomas added. "He's just got tremendous bounce today."