The Day After Signing Day
A year ago, Pat Fitzgerald made headlines on National Signing Day by mocking recruiting rankings and services. This year, his brand took a lift thanks to his stance on calling out the lunacy of the recruiting process and his firm approach to commitment. Fellow NU blog, Inside NU, offered a great take on Fitz’s candid insights in to the new NCAA recruiting rules, which essentially enable coaches to barrage recruits with communication whenever they want. Fitz also received National Signing Day love from David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune on his stance on commitment, especially in the wake of former verbal, Ray Davison, who visited Cal (and eventually committed), knowing it would mean NU would pull back on its offer.
Fitz longed for an NFL-like approach to the NCAA rules, which doesn’t allow “the league” to talk to undergrad players until they are seniors. Yet, in college, Fitz must play the stakes and talk to 14 and 15-year-old kids, which he believes inflates egos and is detriment to everyone. It comes across as earnest and Fitz vows to fight the NCAA rules on this. On a day when things like oversigning (Texas A&M signed 34 players) gets brushed under the rug in lieu of ridiculous ratings (Rivals national rankings skew favorable to size of class over quality), it is a time of both excitement for fans, but also a little squirmy for those of us making a big deal over high school kids.
Northwestern’s overall class was ranked 51st, from an aggregate ranking, which is slightly up from a year ago. Any and every recruiting pundit has claimed this is Fitz’s best class yet. Teddy Greenstein outlined the fact the sales pitch has gone from the Gary Barnett-ism of “Belief without Evidence” to having concrete evidence (aka 10 wins). In Greenstein’s article, he mentioned Tom Lemming’s quote, which summarizes what we diehards have come to know and love:
“It’s a typical Northwestern class. “They’re all smart, overachiever types with better athletic ability than people give them credit for.” – Tom Lemming, CBS Sports recruiting analyst.
Now, let’s take the LTP take on the class of 2013 recruits:
Biggest Get: QB, Matt Alviti. This isn’t news to you. The Maine South (Park Ridge, IL) has been the crowned jewel of the class and is a top ten QB nationally. Alviti grew up a fan of Dan Persa and bleeds purple and happened to sit behind me at most games this year (unlucky for him). He is the Colter/Persa/Kustok-like true dual threat, but appears to have the accuracy of Persa and the escape factor of Colter. He’s going to redshirt, but 2014 will be interesting as it will be hard to keep him off the field, even though it will likely be Trevor Siemian’s show. He chose NU over Ohio State and Nebraska among others and I learned from folks that several big players, including Michigan, recruited him hard even though he was committed.
Instant Impact: Godwin Igwebuike
The Scout 4-star RB/S was up for Mr. Football in Ohio and had eye-popping stats. With Venric Mark and Mike Trumpy manning the RB slot, and Treyvon Green, Malin Jones and even Jordan Perkins potentially in the mix, it will be interesting to see where they play Godwin. The ‘Cats also have a pair of Wisconsin-like big RBs in this class, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him move to the secondary.
Most Underrated: Hunter Niswander
Hunter and Godwin are also tied for “best name” in my opinion as well. Niswander (Nice-wonder) is a potential all-purpose kicker (PK, KO, Punter) and is one of the top 10-15 rated at his position. With Mr. Automatic, Jeff Budzien, showing exactly what kind of a luxury it is to have a phenomenal kicker, we needed to shore up the future at this all-important, often overlooked spot.
Couple Years Away: Several
Northwestern really seemed to excel on the line with guys like Tyler Lancaster (the 6th ranked center, by Scout), Blake King and especially Brad North, who won a Texas state title as an OL. These guys are sure to redshirt, but you can bet will start getting reps in 2014 as our line turns over.
I’m curious to get your take on guys in the class and where you see instant impact or super value long term. Fitz only played three true freshmen last year, once you take Ifeadi out of the mix (redshirted due to injury), but there were a ton of underclassmen playing as it seemed the program has turned a corner where the younger, somewhat higher caliber players, forced Fitz to get away from favoring seniority.