IT’S SIGNING DAY!!!! — WELCOME THE NEW WILDCATS!
Do you hear that rustling in the trees?
No? Well the fax machine can get kind of loud and is known to cause birds to flutter out of their trees startled. Why they still use fax machines for Signing Day is a mystery not even Sherlock Holmes can deduce.
I digress though. Today, all those football coaches will be pacing around this antiquated device waiting for the most important piece of paper to come through. The Declaration of Intent that officially makes high school seniors across the nation members of their selected college teams. It is a great day for programs around the nation and a great day for high school seniors across the country.
SIGNING DAY IS HERE!
As fans, all we can do is welcome the new Wildcats to the Northwestern family. So let us meet the recruits that make up the Northwestern class!
This post will serve as an open thread throughout the day. I will be updating it throughout the day so be sure to check this post out throughout the day for info and highlights from Northwestern’s recruits!
So, who will go down as the first signing of the 2013 recruiting class?
It is Northwestern’s biggest new addition.
— Northwestern Sports (@NU_Sports) February 6, 2013
Sam Coverdale, Offensive Lineman (Chagrin Halls, Ohio)
6-foot-7/280 lbs. Pos. Ranking: Scout — No. 50/Rivals — 56
Coverdale is a big guy. His size is what stands out most as he just towers over all his high school opponents and can simply overpower them. That is what he did at Kenston High School. Coverdale is a big guy and he figures to play some role in sorting out Northwestern’s offensive line next season. Chris Emma of Scout wrote that Coverdale is thinking about that open spot at offensive tackle, although he knows it is something he has to earn in practice.
It sounds like he might get his chance. Either way, Coverdale is a big addition to this team — again not just because of his height. He just could not wait to be a Northwestern Wildcat!
Can’t sleep. Must sign — Sam Coverdale (@master_yashi75) February 6, 2013
OK, so who is next?
Marcus McShepard, Cornerback (University Heights, Ohio)
5-foot-11/185 lbs. Position Rankings: Scout — No. 118/Rivals — No. 69
McShepard is a speedy cornerback who played both at cornerback and as a kick returner for Cleveland Heights High School. Northwestern is always looking for good cornerbacks. McShepard could very well develop into a strong cornerback for the Wildcats in the future. Like many Northwestern recruits, he seemed to slip under the radar. He could be one of those players the Wildcats develop into a strong player in a few seasons.
McShepard is a speed guy and that is what the Wildcats will try to develop in the next few years with him. Clearly from the two position rankings from Rivals and Scout, it seems like no one could get a beat on what his future might be. Hopefully he is in good hands now. Since we all complain about the secondary so much, it is great to see so many cornerbacks and safeties coming in… Here is No. 2:
Keith Watkins II, Running back/Cornerback (Forrest Park, Ohio)
5-foot-11/175 lbs. Position Rankings: Scout — No. 56/Rivals — No. 34
Watkins played running back at Moeller High School, but he will make the transition to cornerback when he arrives in Evanston this summer. As you can see from the highlights he has good instincts with the ball and a ton of speed to go with it. It is kind of a shame he will not be getting the ball out of the backfield. His size though probably prevented that from happening (unless he is Venric Mark fast, which he probably is not).
Watkins will have to learn his new position and so he will probably take a redshirt year to do that. When he gets the finer points of being a cornerback, he will be a welcome addition to the secondary. The next guy is a name that is going to become very familiar in the next year and another addition to the secondary:
Kyle Queiro, Safety/Wide Receiver (Oradell, N.J.)
6-foot-3/188 lbs. Position Rankings: Scout — No. 58/Rivals — No. 53
Queiro is helping Northwestern build a nice pipeline to Bergen Catholic High School. Queiro was a teammate of Cameron Dickerson in high school and Northwestern is already pretty high on his younger brother for next year’s recruiting class. This is about Queiro though.
Queiro is an athletic safety who many feel could be an underrated addition to the Wildcats class. He has some sense for the ball and was pretty good at high school. He has good size too and will be a player that will find a way to contribute to Northwestern when he is given the chance. Adjusting to the speed of the college game is always something you have to worry about with young players, but once he gets that down look out! OK, here comes the big recruit we have all been waiting for, even if he stands only a little taller than Venric Mark.
Godwin Igwebuike, Safety/Running Back (Pickerington, Ohio)
6-foot-2/182 lbs. Position Rankings: Scout — No. 22/Rivals — No. 53
Igwebuike is one of the two four-star recruits Northwestern has coming in this year and he is a guy the Wildcats are extremely excited about. He was a finalist for Mr. Ohio and rushed for more than 1,000 yards last year for Pickerington High School North helping increase his rating from Scout to four-star. Northwestern, like the team always seems to, jumped in on him early and stuck with him to the end.
It is still not clear where Igwebuike is going to play between running back and safety. It seems like he has the athleticism to play either one if he wants. That is the promise that Igwebuike has. And everyone is excited to have him around.
Sorry for taking a little break there. It is about 10 a.m. CT and most of Northwestern’s recruits have already sent in their National Letters of Intent. So I am moving on with the recruits.
Hunter Niswander, Kicker/Punter (Peninsula, Ohio)
6-foot-5, 210 lbs. Position Rankings: Scout — No. 12/Rivals — Two Stars
Niswander does not look like a special teams player with his height and weight. Maybe he could be one of those kickoff/linebacker hybrids. Either way, Niswander is going to be a big gain for Northwestern’s special teams. He had a coach with some high pedigree and thinks he can play all three kicking positions in college. That might be asking a lot. But he might be capable.
At Woodridge High School, he had an 80-yard punt and a 53-yard field goal in his junior year. Seeing as he can do both, he surely will get a look at both positions. With Jeff Budzien and Brandon Williams still on the roster, he will likely have a redshirt year to figure out if he is a punter or a kicker. With Williams graduating after this year, he might be the team’s punter of the future.
Anthony Walker, Jr., Linebacker/Safety (Opa Locka, Fla.)
6-foot-1/209 lbs. Position Rankings: Scout — No. 48/Rivals — Three Stars
Who says Northwestern cannot go into the South Florida area and pick up those prized recruits? After signing Traveon Henry last year, another area linebacker/safety hybrid, the Wildcats picked up Anthony Walker from Monsignor Pace High School. Walker will play linebacker for the Wildcats and that likely means a redshirt year to build strength and learn the game. Northwestern caught Walker’s eyes early and the academics were a big reason he elected to leave warm and sunny Florida for Evanston. He also had offers from Minnesota, Duke and Purdue. Obviously weather was not a factor for him. Walker is pretty good at reading and reacting and could get through the line at high school.
He kind of reminds me a lot of other Northwestern linebackers at this stage. Hopefully he continues to learn and grow. As the NU live blog noted, now come the Central Time Zone signees as Northwestern reaches into Texas for its next big superback.
Jayme Taylor, Tight End (The Woodlands, Texas)
6-foot-4, 218 lbs. Position Rankings: Scout — No. 60/Rivals — Two Stars
Taylor has big shoes to fill with Northwestern’s run of superbacks going from Drake Dunsmore now to Dan Vitale. He seems like he was featured more as a receiver from tight end at The Woodlands High School. That is how Northwestern likes to use the superback. So when he adds some muscle, his speed will certainly help him move in at superback.
Taylor has a lot of work to do to be ready for playing time. But Northwestern has the time to develop him and give him the time to get ready for the college game. He could be a really interesting prospect. As all these guys seem to be, he is the kind of player Northwestern likes to bring in and develop.
OK, back at my computer again this afternoon to wrap up these recruits. Let us start a little close to home with an Illinois signing.
Tom Fuessel, Wide Receiver/Quarterback (Frankfort, Ill.)
6-foot-3, 180 lbs. Position Ranking: Scout — No. 211/Rivals — Two Stars
Fuessel was originally slated to go to Northern Illinois. However, following Dave Doeren’s departure from DeKalb had Fuessel re-opening his recruiting. Northwestern jumped back in and Fuessel committed pretty quickly to come to Evanston. It seems like it will be a good fit.
Fuessel was an athletic quarterback at Lincoln-Way East High School who ran the option and was a runner more than a passer. In college, he is expected to be catching passes and using that athleticism as a wide receiver. Fuessel though has a ton of talent and could be an interesting prospect to develop. It will take time though.
Brad North, Center (Allen, Texas)
6-foot-3, 278 lbs. Position Ranking: Scout — No. 13/Rivals — No. 9
North was one of the top offensive linemen in the state of Texas, which kind of says something. While he lacks weight to push around Big Ten defensive linemen, it certainly seems believable that he will grow into that with a college weight training program. North helped Allen High School win a state championship in Texas. Remember, this is Texas.
North’s strong senior season had some bigger programs chasing him and he wowed at camps. But Northwestern wrapped him up quick and got a commitment early on in the process. They should get the dividends for him. Since he played tackle in high school, it seems like he might be able to play anywhere on the offensive line. And if he is ready, perhaps he will be in the mix this season.
More interestingly, Brad North already has a parody Twitter account. FakeEvanWatkins has company now.
Eric Joraskie, Defensive Tackle/Defensive End (Mount Carmel, Pa.)
6-foot-4, 260 lbs. Position Ranking: Scout — No. 73/Rivals — Three Stars
Joraskie is one of the recruits many people think could be a sleeper in this class for Northwestern. He is big. He is strong. And he is athletic. The only question is where does Northwestern put him along that defensive line? Joraskie can play either end or defensive tackle and could be thrown into the mix immediately along the defensive line.
He was indeed a monster there at Mount Carmel Area High School. How he slipped under so many radars seems confusing. Coming from the area that produced Dan Persa, we know he likely has the same kind of work ethic. Maybe he will gain the same type of adoration. At long last we reach the prospect that is the main event of the recruiting class (by preseason buzz).
Matt Alviti, Quarterback (Park Ridge, Ill.)
6-foot, 172 lbs. Position Ranking: Scout — No. 22/ Rivals — No. 11
Matt Alviti is probably the top recruit in the class and the true prize of the recruiting class. The Maine South High School quarterback is one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the country and is very much the future of this Wildcat offense. He has a strong arm and quick legs. More than that, he does a great job keeping his eyes down the field as he scrambles and he has great escape ability.
The only problem for Alviti is Northwestern will have to be patient. Alviti is likely to take a redshirt on him considering the quarterback depth the team has with Kain Colter, Trevor Siemian and even Zach Oliver ahead of him. That should help the defense out a lot this year. Alviti will likely be the Scout Team quarterback and a good test for the team every day in practice. Until it is finally his turn. Funny that Alviti was sandwiched between a defensive tackle and an offensive lineman in recruiting. Hopefully he sees more of this next guy than Joraskie.
Blake King, Guard/Tackle (Minooka, Ill.)
6-foot-4, 260 lbs. Position Ranks: Scout — No. 62/Rivals — Three Stars
King might be the other offensive linemen in this outstanding class of offensive linemen that could be competing for a starting spot according to Emma. He is a big and has good technique and dominated at the line for Minooka Community High School. Again, he will not be given a starting spot and will have to work for it. That, like with Coverdale, might depend on whether he can put on some weight in summer workouts and compete with Big Ten defensive linemen in early practices. That might not be a question answered until Camp Kenosha.
As you can tell with some of these offensive linemen, Northwestern’s offensive line should be in good hands. It would not be surprising to see a few of them redshirted to better develop chemistry and build strength if they are not quite ready for the field.
About to make the best decision of my life
— Blake King (@bkingers77) February 6, 2013
Indeed, Blake, indeed. You and 18 other commitments. Like this one:
Tyler Lancaster, Center/Guard (Plainfield, Ill.)
6-foot-3, 262 lbs. Position Ranking: Scout — No. 10/Rivals — No. 6
Lancaster is another addition to an already strong offensive line class. He did not allow a sack for three straight years at Plainfield East High School. And his rankings clearly show that Lancaster is well thought of.
Again, he can play just about any position on the line and has the body to develop into a strong offensive line. There are a lot of guys he will have to compete with and grow with in this recruiting class. It is an incredible opportunity. Lancaster might be the best of the offensive line prospects and is one of the headliners of this class. I would suspect he will find his way into the rotation early on.
Matthew Harris, Wide Receiver/Cornerback (La Grange, Ill.)
5-foot-11, 170 lbs. Position Rank: Scout — No. 85/Rivals — Three Stars
Harris is an athlete, starring both on the football field and on the track at Lyons Township High School. Harris finished second in Illinois in the long jump last year. He will bring those skills to the football field. Where is the question?
He played both wide receiver and cornerback in high school and has speed. He just has to learn the finer points of both positions. That will likely happen in a redshirt year as Northwestern figures out where to play him. Scout seems to think he will end up being a cornerback. Athletes at cornerback are a good thing. Now it is about learning technique.
OK, let’s finish up this recruiting class!
Macan Wilson, Wide receiver (Houston, Texas)
6-foot, 183 lbs. Position Ranking: Scout — No. 181/Rivals — Three Stars
Wilson is a speedy receiver who was simply an athlete looking to blow off some competitive steam when he joined the football team. He turned into a solid receiver for Kinkaid High School in Houston and gained interest from Northwestern pretty quickly. From there the match seemed to fit.
Wilson will need some time to develop as a wide receiver. He is one of those multi-faceted athletes that needs time to find a niche. In high school he ran a ton of streaks and sweeps, often going in a straight line more than anything else. But we know he has strength and potential. He is his school’s all-time home run leader in baseball. No word yet if Paul Stevens will make a call.
Xavier Menifield, Running Back (Chatsworth, Calif.)
5-foot-10, 192 lbs. Position Ranking: Scout — No. 105/Rivals — Three Stars
Menifield is one of the running backs Northwestern is bringing in and there is some hope that he can copy the success that Venric Mark has had. Menifield has the size, but maybe not the speed as Mark. That is something Northwestern will continue to work on. He is an accomplished running back already though and that is where he will play at Northwestern.
As a senior, Menifield rushed for more than 1,600 yards and 21 touchdowns for Sierra Canyon School. He was one of the best players in the small school conference in California. Perhaps that is why others missed on him. It may take some time, but Menifield could be key in NU’s running back rotation.
One California running back is good… how about another one?
Warren Long, Running Back (Union City, Calif.)
5-foot-11, 198 lbs. Position Rankings: Scout — No. 91/Rivals — No. 52
Long is another strong running back prospect from California who may take some time to develop but could be a nice addition down the road. Long rushed for 1,134 yards as a junior including 19 touchdowns in helping lead James Logan High School deep into the California playoffs.
Northwestern was the first school to offer him and Long turned down offers from Oregon and Stanford to head East to Evanston. that proves to be a pretty solid victory for Northwestern. Again, it may take some time for Long to be ready to contribute, but he and Menifield should make a good group of running backs in the cache.
The final recruit signing a letter of intent this day is …
Brett Walsh, Linebacker (Monrovia, Calif.)
6-foot-2, 210 lbs. Position Rankings: Scout — No. 94/Rivals — Three Stars
When you see a photo of Brett Walsh, he looks like he could be a great character. He also looks like — and does — play with relentless effort. Watch those highlights and see how he comes screaming across the line and gets after the ballcarrier or the quarterback. The guy seems like he really likes to tackle. And he already has some good size, although he probably needs to develop some discipline.
Walsh is one of those guys that just is relentless and seems to work hard. It seems it is pretty common among these recruits. It is certainly something that is important from Northwestern’s linebackers. So the Wildcats have a good place to start in building up this bruiser from Monrovia High School.
Not only did Northwestern add these 19 recruits, they also announced the addition of two walk-ons. Zach Guritz of Hinsdale South High School in Darien, Ill., and Graham Bullmore of Bradford High School in Kenosha, Wis., were added as offensive line recruits for the day. More offensive linemen to bolster what is probably NU’s weakest position group at the moment.
Thanks to NU Football Family for the highlight packages!