The recruiting news for Northwestern football in the past few weeks has generally been negative.
Yes, the Wildcats got Parrker Westphal and Garrett Dickerson to complete a stellar class with two big fishes. But the news these past two weeks has not been good for Northwestern as the team has had at least two recruits now break their commitments and be taken out of the class.
Three-star safety Jordan Thomas became the latest commitment to depart Northwestern’s class, flipping his commitment from Northwestern to Oklahoma this weekend. The rumors had already started that the Texas safety was wavering on his commitment and thinking of taking another visit. As Bob Przybylo of Sooners Illustrated reports, Sooners coaches kept tabs on Perkins and stayed in contact with him and his coaches in case Perkins every changed his commitment, made in December of 2012.
Northwestern has moved to try to fill that spot in their class with a few players reportedly in the running. Obviously time is running out before Signing Day — just two weeks — and so Northwestern has been sent scrambling by some of these decommitments.
Judging by the comments from our last recruiting article, there is a growing concern that Northwestern’s “no visit after committing” rule is becoming archaic. Particularly as Northwestern competes for higher level recruits.
The thing is Pat Fitzgerald has stated time and time again he wants to recruit a certain type of person to come to Northwestern. He is not looking to recruit someone or accept the commitment of someone who is unsure that Northwestern is the place for him. The commitment to him is a binding agreement even if it actually is not. Going back on that commitment is akin to rejecting the scholarship outright.
As many of you pointed out, Fitzgerald and Northwestern also like to get their classes completed early. And this hard and fast rule catches kids who might have been pressured into an early commitment who later discover that another school might be their best fit.
The bottom line is that Fitzgerald and Northwestern’s staff needs to continue to impress upon these recruits not to take the commitment step lightly. Once they commit, Northwestern will consider their recruiting closed and taking other visits or otherwise re-opening that recruiting will take NU out of the picture entirely. They need to weigh their options carefully.
That might be asking a lot out of an 18 year old. But Fitzgerald does not want to get strung along himself or get involved in too many “hat dances” where the kid is looking for attention and holding the program’s future in his hands. Inevitably, Northwestern will get involved in those late recruiting battles. That is a natural progression of increasing talent in this day and age of college football.
Ultimately, it appears Thomas handled his decommitment as a mature young man.
He was wavering on his decision (made probably a bit too early) and called Fitzgerald himself to inform him of his decision. This was not, it would appear, a player seeking greener pastures after a bad Northwestern season or at the call of a bigger program. The Wildcats are not recruiting players who are going to hold out for offers from bigger schools. Fitzgerald is good at sniffing those men out.
This is not that scenario at all. It is just unfortunate timing with the previous decommitment that it happened so soon.
Maybe it will cause a quick re-examination of Northwestern’s policies and recruiting tactics on this front.
In any case, best of luck to Jordan in Norman next year.