Stanford established itself as the team to beat in the Pac-12 recruiting race when elite defensive end Solomon Thomas announced early Wednesday that he was joining the program.
Then the Cardinal kicked back to see if anyone could overtake it.
One team did: USC.
The Trojans landed three 5-star prospects on signing day and edged the Cardinal for the league's 2014 recruiting crown.
USC's class finished the day ranked No. 10 nationally by two major recruiting services, while Stanford's class was slotted No. 14 by Rivals and No. 15 by Scout.
For whatever it's worth.
"They mean nothing to me," Cardinal coach David Shaw said of the rankings. "They are not subjective or objective. They don't make any sense at all."
Stanford gained two prospects in the final hours. In addition to Thomas, who pulled out a mini tree upon announcing his decision on ESPNU, the Cardinal landed 3-star cornerback Terrence Alexander.
The 20-man class includes five players considered among the best at their position in the country: Thomas, tight end Dalton Schultz, offensive tackle Casey Tucker, fullback Daniel Marx and quarterback Keller Chryst from Palo Alto High School.
Chryst, the son of 49ers quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst, threw 85 career touchdowns and was the Mercury News' 2013 Offensive Player of the Year.
"There are things you can teach and things you can't teach about the quarterback position," Shaw said. "You can't teach ... the ability to throw the ball 70 yards.
"I'm not going to put any time constraints on when he's going to play, but we believe the end result will be phenomenal."
Stanford signed four offensive linemen and four linebackers but allotted five spots -- 25 percent of the class -- to defensive backs.
The Cardinal could lose three starters after next season: safety Jordan Richards will be a senior, and cornerbacks Alex Carter and Wayne Lyons will be eligible for the NFL draft.
Shaw's reasoning for loading up in the secondary: High-level athletes who can clear Stanford's admissions bar are difficult to find.
If they're available, take 'em.
"It's one of the toughest positions to recruit at Stanford," he explained.
Stanford begins spring practice Feb. 24.