SCARLETT RED-HOT AT STANFORD
It's a double-dip homecoming week for Cameron Scarlett.
On Thursday night, the redshirt sophomore running back will be with 20th-ranked Stanford (5-2 overall, 4-1 in Pac-12 play) when it visits Corvallis to take on Oregon State (1-5, 0-3).
Scarlett will remain in the Northwest and venture to Seattle on Sunday for a game between the Seahawks and the Houston Texans at CenturyLink Field.
Scarlett's older brother, Brennan, is an outside linebacker for the Texans.
"I'm so excited," says Cameron, a former Central Catholic High standout. "I love Oregon so much. I'm thankful any time I can get back to my home state. And I'll be able to catch my brother's game on Sunday."
The 6-1, 215-pound Scarlett is seeing his first significant action for the Cardinal this season, playing special teams and serving as backup to Heisman trophy candidate Bryce Love at running back. Scarlett is Stanford's No. 2 rusher with 217 yards on 41 carries (5.3 average) and six touchdowns, and has three receptions for 86 yards.
Scarlett carried eight times for 56 yards and three TDs and also caught a 56-yard pass in a 62-7 rout of Rice in Stanford's opener. He gained 35 yards on eight attempts in the Cardinals' 49-7 blowout of Oregon on Oct. 14.
"It's going well," Scarlett says. "I feel there are a lot of things I need to improve on, but I've been happy with my season so far."
Scarlett was the state of Oregon's top-ranked recruit as a senior after helping Central Catholic to back-to-back state titles in 2013 and '14.
"It came down to Stanford and UCLA, though I liked Washington, too," says Scarlett, a 3.4 student at Central Catholic. "In the end, it was the quality of academics mixed with athletics that is unparalleled (at Stanford)."
Several of Scarlett's relatives — including a great grandfather, a grandfather, an uncle and multiple cousins — attended Stanford.
"I'm a legacy," Scarlett says. "I wanted to make the best choice for me, but coming to a school where I can go through the same halls as my great grandfather and grandfather has been a blessing."
The other major factor was the graduate transfer after four years at California to Stanford by Brennan Scarlett, four years Cameron's senior.
"I never thought we'd get the opportunity to play with each other," Cameron says. "That was great. We made the most of it."
Cameron's commitment "had tons to do" with Brennan's decision to transfer across the bay.
"Cam was the one who gave me the idea," the elder Scarlett says. "I had just torn my ACL (knee) at Cal. I was thinking about my next move. He brought up the possibility to me. It was, 'If you go, I'll go.'
"Going to Stanford was one of the best experiences of my life. Being able to play with my brother and go to school with him was amazing. The masters program I was in (management science and engineering) was incredible. And on the football side of it, winning the (2016) Rose Bowl and being surrounded by a lot of great guys was the best."
Cameron redshirted during that 2015 season, then got his first taste of action last season, rushing 38 times for 117 yards and a TD as third-string running back behind Christian McCaffrey — now a rookie with the Carolina Panthers — and Love. Scarlett has played a bigger role this season as backup to Love, the national rushing leader with 1,387 yards and 11 TDs.
"I've been blessed to learn from some great backs," says Scarlett, who rooms with Love. "We all knew this season was coming for Bryce. I've seen the hard work he has put in. It's been fun to watch what he's doing. I hope he can continue with the success."
Scarlett has earned the admiration of his older brother.
"Cam is doing a great job," Brennan says. "He has embraced his role as a backup (running back) and special-teams player. For a guy coming to college after being a high school star, that's hard to do."
Brennan Scarlett, 6-4 and 265 and in his second NFL season, gained his first career start on Oct. 15 in a 33-17 victory over Cleveland.
"It's funny," Brennan says. "I've had the same role as Cam most of my time (with the Texans). I went into the season as backup outside linebacker and a core special-teams guy. With injuries, my role (at linebacker) has increased a little bit."
Stanford lost its second and third games of the season to Southern Cal (42-24) and San Diego State (20-17). The Cardinal have won four in a row since then, including their pounding of the Ducks.
"We feel like we're getting close to our full potential," Scarlett says. "On offense, we left a lot on the field against Oregon, but it's hard to complain about a win like that. Our defense is playing lights out as usual. We're taking steps toward being the team we want to be."
Scarlett will have a reunion Thursday night with Oregon State running back Ryan Nall, who ranks sixth in the Pac-12 in rushing with 513 yards and seven TDs in six games. Scarlett and Nall — who is a year ahead of Scarlett — teamed to lead the Rams to their 2014 state title.
"It's always fun to see Ryan," Scarlett says. "He's a monster, a beast, a freak athlete. I've never seen anybody that big, that fast and that powerful. He has it all. I'm a real big supporter of Ryan."
Scarlett is majoring in science technology and society at Stanford, with a focus on innovation and organization.
"It's similar to product design," he says. "I've had a big interest working on the marketing end with Nike some day."
For now, Scarlett is focusing on football. With Love likely headed to the NFL after this season, Scarlett is the heir apparent as Stanford's starting running back in 2018. After that, might he, too, be off to the pros?
"That's my plan, but it really depends on how next season pans out," Scarlett says. "We'll see what happens. But I would have no problem staying here for five years and maybe getting my master's degree."
If the Cardinal win out, they'll claim the Pac-12 North title and make the Pac-12 championship game.
"That's our goal every season, to win the Pac-12 North and then the Pac-12," Scarlett says. "It would be fulfilling if we got back to the Rose Bowl after we let it slip last year.
"But right now, we're focusing on going 1-0 every week the rest of the way. The rest will handle itself."