Signing Day is a lot about talk.
Pat Fitzgerald would say that as much as anyone. He does not quite get the infatuation on recruiting Web sites with the whims of 18 year olds and is focused solely on what is good for his class, his team and the young men he coaches. That was the tenor that came from Fitzgerald’s press conference introducing the class of 15 student athletes preparing to enroll at Northwestern and play football at the school.
Meanwhile further down state — approximately 137 miles and two hours south of Chicago — Tim Beckman was introducing his class of Fighting (using that term loosely after their horrific one-win Big Ten season in which they had an average margin of defeat of 19.3 points per game in their seven losses) Illini and declared his team the winner of the “State of Chicago.” Via Vinnie Duber of CSN Chicago:
“We signed four football players out of the ‘state’ of Chicago, as we call it. And that is more than the actual team that is in Chicago signed,” Beckman said. “So we’re proud, and we want this state to understand that we’re proud of the high school football in this state.”
Indeed, the Illini brought in an impressive haul of 18 recruits with five coming from Illinois, including three from the Chicagoland area. That does not include grabbing Ifeadi Odenigbo’s little brother, Tito.
So Beckman wants to declare himself and his team as the winners of Chicago. Except he really is not.
The recruits Northwestern got from the Chicagoland area certainly are worth noting. That would by Clayton Thorson, Justin Jackson and Parrker Westphal. Those are all top recruits within Illinois, let alone Chicago.
According to Scout, Northwestern recruited three of the top 16 prospects in Illinois. The Illinis just had one. In Scout’s recruiting class rankings, Northwestern came in 59th in the admittedly flawed team rankings. Illinois was dead last in the Big Ten — with a larger class at that.
You tell me who may have won Chicago?
Pat Fitzgerald said at his press conference at Ditka’s that Northwestern, in fact, “dominated Chicagoland.” Dominated might be going a little far, but the Wildcats appeared to get a nicer haul from the Chicagoland area and from Illinois than the Illini did.
Of course, all this should be proven on the field. That is where NU is now 2-0 against Tim Beckman and Illinois. There is no reason to think that will not continue when the Illini make their trip to Ryan Field this fall.