The 2015 Factor
Northwestern football’s 2014 recruiting has offered us quite a bit of fill time this off-season. By the time summer rolled around, only two slots remained for the 15-man recruiting class. With each additional commitment, that intangible known as momentum seemed to increase exponentially. The ‘Cats have put together a 2014 class that is a significant cut above any other class in Pat Fitzgerald’s tenure and if it was measured solely on quality, as opposed to quantity which most services considerably weight, it would be a Top 20 class, regardless of what happens down the stretch. Class catapulters like Garrett Dickerson and Parrker Westphal remain distinct possibilities to put an exclamation point on the ’14 class, but there are a slew of high-quality “gets” still with offers – CB Adarius Pickett, LB Terrence Alexander and DE Jaylen Johnson headline a list of many more who know the Northwestern situation. Regardless of who fills the last two Wildcat spots, one thing is certain, we’ve turned a corner in football recruiting and now, in July of 2013, NU is becoming a factor in the 2015 recruiting scene.
There is no doubt the quality of the 2014 class has caught the attention of current prospects. Many of the at-large targets have been quoted about the quality of this class. The one thing that hasn’t been much discussed is the fact NU can now be channeling so much of its recruiting energy on 2015. The reality of football recruiting is that every program is vying to be out in front with potential recruits, so working on the current class while nurturing future ones is part of any program’s recruiting time management. However, with only two slots remaining and a finite amount of players on the ‘Cats board, the work is much more manageable than many of the B1G competitors who have less than half of their class full.
In each of the past two seasons, Northwestern has been able to kickoff their respective recruiting classes a bit earlier than the past. Redshirt freshman RB, Malin Jones, committed to NU earlier than any recruit I can remember – before his senior season was even complete. This past December DB Jordan Thomas made the commitment in December of 2012 and was the first member of the 2014 class. Now, I expect NU to get a significant jump start on 2015 by leveraging the quick pace with which 2014 has come together. Should NU be able to close out the class by the start of the season, that would become part of the narrative.
Alex Wayne of WildcatReport.com noted this weekend that NU has OLB Blake Walls in their plans and the Gardena (Junipero Serra HS), California native, who received an offer from Florida State, also has Michigan and Tennessee battling the ‘Cats for his services. Walls is a class of 2016 target.
The 2015ers are in full swing and Wayne reported that RB Andrew Dowell of ‘Cat pipeline Lakewood (St. Edward), Ohio is high on NU. Titus Booker, a speed demon from Grayslake, Illinois recently camped in Evanston and there is a high degree of mutual interest, according to local recruiting guru EdgyTim. And, one of the hottest QB prospects in the country, Nate Ketteringham, of Westview High School in San Diego, recently made a stop in Evanston on his coast-to-coast tour.
Northwestern is in the mix and the name brand of Pat Fitzgerald’s program seems to elevate with each additional 2014 commitment. You just get the sense that closing out the 2014 class combined with a strong start to the 2013 season would only hypercharge 2015. It’s not even a stretch to say that NU will have multiple 2015 commits in 2013, a feat that has never been accomplished in NU football history. It’s just one more sign of how Northwestern recruiting has turned the corner.
Meet the ’13 ‘Cats Tomorrow Night in Evanston!
The ‘Cats are hosting their third annual Lift for Life fundraiser at the practice field just north of Ryan Field on Tuesday, July 23 at 6pm ct. The ‘Cats will be competing against one another in feats of “strength, speed and agility” to benefit the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation. After the event you’ll get to mingle with the players at a picnic-style set-up. It’s another great way to connect with the ‘Cats. All of the details are here at NUSports.com.
Get Your Purple Fix
As I anxiously await the posting of the 2013 NU Football Media Guide online this week, I saw this tweet from Northwestern Athletics communications director, Paul Kennedy, and it really got the football juices flowing:
— Paul Kennedy (@PK9) July 18, 2013
Future Schedule Surfing
We’re still likely more than 20 days away from Northwestern getting revealed in Paul Myerberg’s incomparable USA Today College Football Countdown, but I was struck by his reveal of Ball State at #46. I’ll admit they have slipped by my radar, except for the fact they are on our non-conference schedule in September of 2015. The Cardinals (not to be confused with fellow ’15 opponent Stanford Cardinal) round out a non-conference schedule that also includes Duke and Eastern Illinois. It’s a program to keep an eye on starting this year, knowing we’ll face them soon.
LTP Flag Project
The back-up is getting pretty heavy on the LTP flag project and we’ll be posting a shot every day for the next two weeks just to get back to even. We’ve got some incredible shots from all reaches of our fine planet. Today, Zach Simpson, a ’97 NU grad took some time out of his fly fishing trip at Rock Creek in Philipsburg, Montana to offer up this photo.
If you have a photo of a Northwestern flag that you’d like us to add to the map, please email us a .jpeg of the photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LTP Purple Pledge Adds
We’ve reached our goal of 200 NEW season tickets and 500+ single game tickets for the 2013 season, but we’re intentionally keeping the lines open to add to the accomplishment. Jason Blyth added +4 to the single game ticket total (Ohio State) and Rudy Pesut took the plunge and bought three season tickets. There is still time to buy season tickets – call 888-Go-Purple and hit X 9069 to get Mike Zoller and tell him LTP sent you. Then, email us at email@example.com and we’ll give you a shout out and add it to the scoreboard.