Three-star quarterback Clayton Thorson of Wheaton North (Ill.) committed to Northwestern on Sunday. And despite seeing frequent opportunities at wide receiver, Thorson expects to line up under center for the Wildcats.
Just last month, Pat Fitzgerald raved about Matt Alviti — the presumptive gem of his 2013 recruiting class. The Maine South (Ill.) standout, also a quarterback, then figured to be the future NU pivot. When Kain and Trevor graduate, the dual-threat Alviti hopes to create his own legacy.
Don't be surprised if he experienced some anxious moments when Thorson chose NU. The talented quarterbacks, in all likelihood, will battle for the starting job in future years. Thorson held several intriguing offers — many in the Big Ten — that would almost guarantee future playing time. This one functioned as a sort of risk. It's a problem NU likes to have, but it's one that will bring significant attention to the program.
I assumed, at first, that Thorson would be content to switch positions. That seemed ideal. NU currently lacks star production from any of its wide receivers, and at an imposing 6-4, Thorson could create problems for opposing secondaries. Not so fast, people have warned me. Thorson — one of the best athletes in this state — might watch his potential bloom in the coming seasons.
At Maine South, Alviti won a state championship in his sophomore year. He consistently made plays with his feet, which I had the pleasure of witnessing during one home playoff game. Against Conant, with his receivers and passing game struggling all day, Alviti still carried his team. That usually involved him scrambling, and at the end of the day, he did enough to win.
Alviti does not follow the mold of past NU quarterbacks. His attitude is almost immediately noticeable. After one touchdown in the win against Conant, he ran over and pretend to conduct the school band. His intensity rubs off on teammates, and coach Dave Inserra said that while the Maine South community embraces Alviti, he'll "bite your head off" to win. That sounds like the player this team could rally around.
But Thorson provides something that seems different. He's your typical raw athlete — one who can impact the game in whichever way coaches ask. He brings the height Alviti lacks. Scout's Beth Long even thinks Thorson could be better down the road. Enter another competition at quarterback, one even more interesting than the current one. There will be no 1-A, 1-B here, or at least it doesn't seem like it. They can both run. They can both make the downfield throws, according to just about every scouting report.
Regardless, the Thorson commitment marked another victory for Northwestern recruiting. The program sold the talented quarterback despite impending competition. Finally, on-the-field success is starting to be reflected on recruiting boards.
There's an exciting future in Evanston, but it remains to be seen which quarterback will make that happen.