Northwestern Tops Vitale's List

Pat Fitzgerald always talks about looking for a couple specific things in a recruit. One is versatility, another is a winner. That's why the Wildcats have made a push at Wheaton Warrenville South (IL) prospect Dan Vitale.

On Saturday, Dan Vitale along with his Wheaton Warrenville South teammate Greg Hohenstein visited Northwestern's Saturday morning scrimmage. Both were a little surprised to hear that the Wildcats were interested, but were excited to come visit.

"It didn't seem like they were that interested, because I've been getting the same kind of mail from every other school. They've been talking to my coach for a long time, and I guess, they've been looking at me for a while, evaluating me, and they said they like that they see."

So Vitale made the short trip to Evanston and spent his Saturday morning with the Wildcats. That visit included taking in the team scrimmage, visiting with the NU coaches, and taking in team meetings. Checking out Northwestern was special for Vitale, because he's admired Northwestern and Pat Fitzgerald for a while.

"I really look up to Coach Fitzgerald, I've looked up to him for a while," Vitale said. "It's a highly respected school—both for football and academics. Recently, it's been a dream school of mine."

Vitale (6'2, 207-lbs.) has received interest from Northwestern along with Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Indiana, Duke, and a few other schools. His recruitment has picked up quite a bit lately, and part of that is due to his versatility. As a junior, Vitale played fullback, wide receiver, tight end, and linebacker. With his combination of size and speed (4.5 40-yard dash), many schools are very interested, including Northwestern.

The NU coaches told Vitale that they are looking at him as a linebacker, because his versatility fits the mold of a Northwestern linebacker.

So during his visit, Vitale spent most of his time taking in what the linebackers did during practice, and then stayed around on campus so he could take in the Wildcat linebackers meeting.

"I definitely focused on (the linebackers) a lot more today," he said. "I stayed after practice till 2:00 and stayed with their meeting, and watched how they break down, and how they practice. It was really cool to see how they do that in college. It was a new thing for me."

This was not Vitale's first time on campus. The linebacker took part in a couple camps in Evanston, and once attended a Northwestern football game. On Saturday, he was given the chance to become more familiar with the program, and was very impressed with the entire visit.

"It was definitely a great visit for me," he said. "It's always a lot better when you get to talk to the coaches personally. It was a lot more personal since I got to go into that meeting, and it was cool to see what the players are like. I could see myself playing with them in the future. Overall, it was a great experience for me."

After visiting with the coaches, Vitale got the idea that he shouldn't look for a scholarship offer immediately. That is more likely to come after summer camp, when he gets to showcase his skills in front of the Wildcat coaches.

If a scholarship were to come, Vitale now has a good idea of where Northwestern stands in his list of interested schools.

"I'd probably say they're my number one," Vitale said. "They're close to home; it would be nice for my parents. With the academics and the coaching staff, it's probably my number one so far."

As a junior, Vitale was a part of Wheaton Warrenville South's Illinois State championship team, the program's second-consecutive state championship. He carries a 5.38 weighted grade point average, and a 3.68 unweighted grade point average.


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