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Pitts Is Prepared to Step Up

OK, football world, let’s introduce you to DeRonnie Pitts of Stanford.

“I’m one of the best receivers nobody knows about,” he said. “I guess I get to show that on national television.”

With All-American receiver Troy Walters sidelined because of a dislocated right wrist, Pitts is preparing to assume responsibility as the leader of the receiving corps.

He performed the same chore at times last season, when Walters played in only six full games because of injuries and Pitts responded with 74 receptions for 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns.

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“One of his strong points is he’s unknown,” quarterback Todd Husak said. “The fact he’s not respected as much as he should be plays to his advantage. I think he’s the strongest receiver on our team. He’s not as much a deep threat as some of the other guys, but he’s a great receiver over the middle. Once he gets the ball in his hands, anything can happen.”

Pitts, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound junior from Saginaw, Mich., has caught 58 passes for 853 yards and eight touchdowns. He said he felt bad when Walters went down during practice Tuesday.

“He’s one of the hardest workers, if not the hardest worker on the team,” Pitts said. “No one deserved to play in the Rose Bowl more than he did. It’s a shame a freak accident could happen to a great guy like him. I’m going to have Troy in the back of my mind the whole game.”

Walters plans to be on the sideline providing advice and encouragement, but he joked Thursday about getting an early start on a different career.

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“This might be a good time to go into the coaching box,” Walters said.

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Defensive tackle Willie Howard continues to progress in recovering from a knee injury. He practiced for the third consecutive day Thursday, and Coach Tyrone Willingham made his most optimistic assessment of Howard’s availability for Saturday.

“He’s doing well,” Willingham said. “I’m thinking, based on what I’ve seen so far, he’s going to play.”

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The growth of the Internet has been very good for Stanford financially.

With the Silicon Valley thriving, the Cardinal’s athletic endowment has grown to $225 million and “a lot of it has been raised in the last couple of years,” according to Athletic Director Ted Leland.

“Part of the reason we’ve had success is not only are we a hot school but in a hot economic area,” Leland said.

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