Stanford linebacker Torsten Rotto (53) during the first half of the PAC-12 Championship football game against Arizona State, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, in
Stanford linebacker Torsten Rotto (53) during the first half of the PAC-12 Championship football game against Arizona State, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) ( Rick Scuteri )

STANFORD -- The departure of 12 starters has created countless opportunities for players who had peripheral roles during Stanford's run to back-to-back conference titles.

With that in mind, we present Torsten Rotto.

Haven't heard of him? That's understandable. Rotto, a walk-on, has played in five games in three years.

"I'm a nobody right now who's trying to become a somebody," he said Wednesday.

Rotto is trying to become a somebody at a position of some significance: The rush linebacker spot manned last year by consensus All-American Trent Murphy.

"Torsten has been that guy that we've trusted for two years," coach David Shaw said. "If something happened, we could throw him in a game and he'd do a good job and work extremely hard. He would communicate and do what he was supposed to do.

"He was just behind a couple All-Americans."

Rotto, a redshirt junior, considered playing in the Ivy League and had a chance to walk-on at Minnesota. But when Stanford offered a spot as a preferred walk-on -- he would be assured of making the roster -- Rotto jumped at the chance.

He did not play in 2011 and only appeared in one game as a redshirt freshman. Last year, he played in four games and registered two tackles.

"I've been fighting to get (into the rotation) for a while," Rotto said. "I've got a great opportunity, and I want to put it in cement. It's time to turn on the jets."

In that regard, he is not alone.

Noor Davis, a one-time mega-recruit from Florida who has rarely played in two seasons, is also in the mix at linebacker.


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Jordan Watkins (one game in three years) is competing for time at defensive end.

Graham Shuler (seven games in three years) is expected to be the starting center.

"Spots are made in training camp," Rotto said. "It's a full-out grind right now."

  • Receiver Ty Montgomery (arm) is participating in drills this week and looks "phenomenal," Shaw said.

    Once full-contact workouts begin this weekend, Montgomery will be protected. A decision on his availability for the Aug. 30 season opener against UC Davis is expected prior to game week, Shaw said.

  • Shaw's initial impression of quarterback Keller Chryst, the touted freshman from Palo Alto High School: "He's not in a rush, he's not feeling pressure on his shoulders. His comprehension rate is not high, but that's to be expected."

  • Defensive tackle Ikenna Nwafor is expected to give up football because of a foot injury. He has played in three games in two years. "There's a good chance he's not going to be back," Shaw said.

  • Stanford will hold a public workout Saturday at 9 a.m. on Elliott Field (adjacent to Maples Pavilion). It's a routine practice, not a scrimmage. Players will be available to interact with fans at the conclusion (approximately 11 a.m.).

    For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at jwilner@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5716.