NU Recruiting Notebook

It's the season of giving, but it's also the season of recruiting. Many of the nation's top recruits are giving their verbal commitments, while coaches are adding to their recruiting boards and looking at their team's needs. Northwestern coaches have been active lately with recruiting. Get the latest in NU recruiting in this PurpleWildcats.com recruiting notebook.

The "happiest time of the year" has not been so joyous for Northwestern recruiting. The Wildcats have lost out on a number of tough recruiting battles, with a few extra circumstances in a couple cases. Northwestern now looks on to its Plan B options.

Meanwhile, Northwestern coaches are gradually turning their attention to the class of 2013 as they fill up that recruiting board.

After the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, Northwestern coaches will hit the road for intensive recruiting work, as they attempt to fill up their 2012 recruiting class and lay the foundation for the 2013 class.

PurpleWildcats.com brings you inside Northwestern recruiting, including what's next for the 2012 recruiting class, who is close to making a decision, and plenty more.

What's next?

The month of December was a rough one for Northwestern recruiting, as the top of the recruiting board fell apart. It started with Faith Ekakitie's commitment to Iowa in a FOX Sports Next exclusive video feature. Of course, in his blog, FaithFlex.com, Ekakitie suggested his grade point average was not enough for Northwestern. Sources have confirmed it was well below NU standards.

The next bit of bad news came last weekend, when three-star linebacker Quanzell Lambert named his final schools, and Northwestern had not made the cut. Lambert, Scout's 12th-ranked middle linebacker, has narrowed his options to three—Iowa, Nebraska, and Rutgers. Now, Northwestern has to hope Lambert does not land in the Big Ten.

More bad news for the Wildcats came from Abner Logan, who gave his verbal commitment to Maryland. However, Lambert told PurpleWildcats.com that he was likely to commit to Northwestern had it not been for a transcript complication with the NCAA. That came as another big blow to the Wildcats. The very next day, three-star receiver Jehu Chesson—NU's top receiver prospect—committed to Big Ten foe Michigan.

Now, Northwestern has hit the brakes and figure out what's next for recruiting. Sources have told PurpleWildcats.com that NU is likely to add four to six more recruits for the 2012 class.

Still on top of the recruiting board, as has been the case all along, is four-star linebacker Ifeadi Odenigbo. Northwestern coaches have made a strong push at Odenigbo, who lists Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Stanford as his favorites.

Odenigbo has set Jan. 7 as his announcement day. The linebacker visited Evanston earlier this month, spending time with Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, as well as linebackers Chi Chi Ariguzo and David Nwabuisi. The Wildcats will surely be waiting for the news of Odenigbo's decision.

After Odenigbo, the board is a bit open. Don't expect Fitzgerald to go after any currently committed recruits. In an interview with ESPNChicago's Scott Powers, Fitzgerald suggested that is not something he does in recruiting.

Northwestern is likely to push for a few other linebackers in the 2012 recruiting class. Woodlands, TX. Linebacker Garrett Hope currently holds an offer from the Wildcats, and has high interest. You may even see NU coaches make a push for Nyeem Wartman, a former Penn State commit, who has re-opened his recruitment.

A few other names to watch at linebacker are Joe Burger and Marcus Forward. Each prospect attended summer camp in Evanston and have received interest. The two may be candidate for an offer.

Behind Odenigbo on the 2012 recruiting board is likely Kansas City defensive end Nathanael Lohn. Northwestern jumped into his picture back in September, and NU coaches have stopped by Lohn's Staley High School for a few visits. The highly-touted prospect has double-digit offers, including eight from the Big Ten.

Northwestern may make a push for a receiver after Chesson dropped off the board. A few potential options include Cameron Countryman, though he has suggested Northwestern is dropping out of his mix. Also, Woodlands, TX. receiver Cooper Woodyard is a name to watch.

Looking ahead

Recruiting for the class of 2013 is well underway, and Northwestern has already been very active as this talented class begins to receive offers. The Wildcats have two prospects sitting atop the recruiting board—four-star quarterback Matthew Alviti and four-star running back Ty Isaac. You can read more about Alviti below.

As for Isaac, he is already into double-digit offers, with Ohio State becoming the most recent school to enter the mix. Isaac will be one of the top running back prospects in the 2013 class, and when it's all said and done, will likely have at least 30 scholarship offers.

Four-star quarterback prospect Aaron Bailey has received a lot of interest from Northwestern. However, the Wildcats are likely to look at Bailey as a wide receiver—especially if Alviti commits to Northwestern. Bailey has great open-field speed, which makes him a threat anywhere on offense. He has Kain Colter-type abilities, but in a larger frame.

Northwestern has offered Kettering, OH. Quarterback Malik Zaire, and has shown interest in four-star quarterback Kevin Olsen and Boeing Brown.

A few other offers to watch in the 2013 class are Zach Bradshaw, Kyle Bosch, Colin McGovern, and Jake Butt. Each have received high early interest from Northwestern, and have expressed mutual interest.

Looking even further ahead

It will make a recruiting analyst feel old when they hear about 2014 recruiting, but Northwesten has already begun to look at current high school sophomores for their recruiting class. Currently, only one sophomore, Nic Weishar, holds an offer from Northwestern. The 6-foot-5 receiver will surely see many more offers as time progresses.

The Wildcats have also shown interest in Oak Lawn, IL. quarterback prospect Tommy Mister, as well as De La Salle (IL) Institute quarterback Shelby Spence. Just two weeks ago, Spence visited Northwestern to watch the team's bowl practice.

Not going anywhere?

Pat Fitzgerald was outspoken against the NCAA waiver which allows Ohio State and a number of other schools to have two working coaching staffs during a transition between the staffs. Incoming Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has already landed three commits since taking the job in early December. Two of those recruits were previously committed to other Big Ten schools.

Northwestern has a few commits who have received interest from Ohio State, but Fitzgerald is not worried that Meyer will snatch them to Columbus.

"I don't really care," said Fitzgerald. "Our guys have been committed for a long time."

The latest with Matthew Alviti

By now, four-star quarterback Matthew Alviti can establish residency in Evanston. The native of nearby Park Ridge has visited Northwestern five times in the past six weeks—most recently last weekend, as he and Maine South High School teammates visited Northwestern's bowl practice.

The junior may be coming up on a decision fairly soon. He has narrowed his list of schools to Northwestern and Notre Dame. He has hinted to be waiting for Gunner Kiel's decision. If Kiel, the nation's top quarterback, selects Notre Dame, one of his finalists, then that may push Alviti to the Wildcats.

Alviti has a very close relationship with Pat Fitzgerald along with offensive coordinator Mick McCall. The fact that he can make the pop-in visit at any time is a great positive. Northwestern hopes all factors will pay dividends in his decision. Be on the watch for Alviti's decision.

A new foe emerges

The University of Illinois made a big splash in the recruiting world with the hiring of new head coach Tim Beckman. The former head coach of Toledo brings in many of his staff members with the Rockets, including Alex Golesh as his recruiting coordinator.

Beckman's staff had a strong presence in the Chicago-area. In fact, Toledo coaches were invited to Northwestern's camp back in June. Now, those same coaches are with rival Illinois, who have suggested they will increase their presence in the Land of Lincoln.

With a number of top prospects in the state, Illinois will become a recruiting battleground for Northwestern, Illinois, and many other schools.


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