Process leads to Hance offer

Could Blake Hance be the final piece on Northwestern's offensive line?

Blake Hance understood the importance of his Tuesday workout.

Northwestern assistants Adam Cushing and Bob Heffner were on the sidelines. They watched the three-star Jacksonville (Ill.) prospect line up at offensive tackle. An offer may well have hinged on the outcome.

Ten minutes after the workout, Hance received a Facebook message. The instructions: Call Pat Fitzgerald. After a lengthy process, the Wildcats were sold.

NU already boasts an impressive offensive line, and this was not your average offer. Even with a small (15- or 16-member) recruiting class, they couldn't pass up this in-state talent.

"They have only one spot left on the offensive line," Hance said, "and they have no [O-line] offers out. I'm really the only guy offered. That's pretty cool."

Hance made his first ever college visit to NU this past summer. Rather than racing to offer, the Wildcats coaching staff learned more about Hance. You rarely hear the word "patience" in recruiting these days. Here, it truly applies.

"It's one of the places that has been around the longest," Hance said. "I've been able to build really good relationships."

In that time, other schools began to take note of his talent. Eleven schools offered before NU made its decision. That list includes four Big Ten foes.

But NU maintained a constant presence. He frequently spoke with Cushing, Heffner, Fitzgerald and Coach Dennis Springer. After watching him show his potential at the tackle spot, the staff couldn't wait any longer.

"They were super impressed," Hance said.

In the meantime, he's been able to follow the program momentum. You can't underestimate the importance of this already-strong class. On Tuesday, shortly after Hance's offer, four-star running back Justin Jackson officially announced that he became the ninth member of the group.

Hance said this surge in recruiting stems from on-field results. The program gained attention with its 10-win season, and recruits are beginning to take notice.

"They've already got a very good class for my grade, and that's definitely impressive," Hance said. "That's definitely an attractive thing to me."

Hance knows he could be the next joiner. He's been made aware of the program through communication with the coaching staff. The offer took a while, but oh, could it ever pay off.

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