In fact, NU defensive line coach Marty Long traveled to Napa recently to visit Vintage High School junior defensive end Markeis Reed, and he regaled the D-line prospect with tales of NU's Evanston, Ill., campus and its football program.
According to Reed, Long explained that Northwestern is deliberate in its recruiting and therefore likes to take its time before extending any offers. Additionally, Long discussed how the 6-foot-5, 218-pound Reed could fit into the Wildcats' defensive scheme, provided he bulks up a bit in advance.
"We talked about their defense, what they run out there and how I'd be playing solid defensive end if I can put some weight on," Reed said. "That's why he came to see me, to see if I can put the weight on."
The speedy defensive end product – who is currently competing in sprint events, including the 100 and 200 meters, during Vintage's track season – said he hasn't had the opportunity to visit Chicago or Northwestern, but has heard plenty of positive things about both.
"It sounds great, I mean, the competition level is outstanding," Reed said. "It's right up there with the SEC and the Big 12 and the Pac 12. They play great competition, and I like that a lot. Sounds like a great place … [Northwestern is] not directly in Chicago, but it's really close, and I think that's outstanding, too."
However, Reed said deciding to move to the Midwest would not be easy, particularly given the imminent climate shock he would face. Recalling a middle school trip he took to New York City, Reed noted that he "hated the winter."
Making the decision more complicated is the fact that Reed has been attracting lots of interest from schools closer to his Napa home, including San Diego State, which recently became the first school to extend the D-end a scholarship offer. Washington State, Fresno State and BYU are among the schools that have also expressed interest.
Meanwhile, Northwestern is not the only non-Pacific time zone school to reach out, as Iowa State could be giving him an offer in the near future.
"Iowa State, I just talked to the coach like 10 minutes ago," Reed said on Wednesday. "They were evaluating me today, and he's going to go talk to the coaching staff and see how they feel. Based on that, they'll see if they're going to offer or not."
Reed added that there are several schools he is hoping to hear back from, and he singled out one California powerhouse as a longtime favorite.
"I hate to stick out one school, but it's SC," Reed said. "USC is a school I'd love to play at – every kid in California wants to play at USC, so that's the one dream school I have."
Despite his California ties, though, Reed said he was not bound to stay on the West Coast.
"Most of all, [I'm looking for] competition," he said. "That's going to factor into my decision. And the atmosphere – do I feel at home right away? Do I like who I'm playing with and who's going to be coaching me? Basically, it's about my comfort level at the school and with the coaching staff and the players as well."
In the meantime, Reed will remain focused on bulking up – he said most schools have expressed an interest in getting him up to approximately 245 pounds to play outside linebacker or 260 pounds to play defensive end – as well as Vintage's archrival: Napa High.
"Teamwise, we have a big game against our rival down the street – Napa High – and it's one of the biggest rivalries in California," Reed said when asked about his immediate goals. "Twelve-thousand people show up, and it's crazy. I'd like to win that. We haven't won since 2005. And I'd like to take our league title this year. Individual-wise, I'd just like to do well."