With an expected smaller class this season–likely between 15 and 17 pledges–the nucleus has already formed. Fans should be especially confident after Watkins and Tommy Doles committed this weekend.
Here's an updated version of our 2014 commit tracker, which was originally published on April 23rd.
Klein Collins (Tex.)
December 15, 2012
"Ultimately, next year, we're continuing to move in the right direction. 10-3 is a great season, but all the guys there are shooting for greatness. Instead of the Gator Bowl, we can end up in the Rose Bowl."
As the above quote indicates, Thomas is unafraid of future success. The athletic safety joins the now-improved unit, which gained confidence with the strong performance of Jared Carpenter in 2012. He attended a pre-Gator Bowl practice in Evanston, and took just one day to accept his offer. Thomas was receiving interest from in-state schools–and likely would have received more–but everyone is forced to back off.
Wheaton North (Ill.)
March 17, 2013
"Success is definitely part of my decision, the momentum is great but I am also committed to the school and program. I'm just thrilled."
This one stands out. Thorson, who excels at both quarterback and wide receiver at Wheaton North, will enter fierce competition upon arriving at NU. Trevor Siemian likely has the starting spot locked down in 2014. After, Thorson and Alviti will look to seize the job. Granted, both will be used in some capacity. Pat Fitzgerald and his staff can't throw around scholarships, and the one who "loses out" could potentially see time at wide receiver.
Three-star safety/outside linebacker
Bergen Catholic (N.J.)
April 4, 2013
"It was the communication with the coaches, the program on the rise … It all sold me."
Cameron Queiro expects to move to outside linebacker for his college career. He can succeed in coverage, but also brings the requisite physicality. This linebacker corps appears destined for a great deal of future success. Drew Smith and Joseph Jones are poised to break out. Queiro, who joins his brother Kyle in Evanston, will continue the trend. He's an exciting athlete who continues the Bergen Catholic-to-Northwestern pipeline— a huge asset to this program.
Three-star offensive tackle/defensive tackle
Avon Lake (Ohio)
April 6, 2013
"Everyone's been telling me the whole time: it starts from the top. Every single part of the staff is great, and they all respect [Coach Fitzgerald]… He's one of the best coaches I've talked to when it comes to player development."
Oxley committed to NU following the open spring practice at Ryan Field. He is the Tyler Lancaster of this class, as he will begin at defensive tackle. The team can exploit the versatility and athleticism of some tackles better on defense, so why not? The offensive line–with Oxley and Doles included–look set for several years under Adam Cushing. Oxley heavily considered academics in his decision, and was especially sold by players from his hometown, including Deonte Gibson and Geoff Mogus.
Unranked running back
April 18, 2013
"I love the people. I love the players. I love where the program is at, so it's easy choice for me."
Once everyone finally realized just how intriguing of a prospect Solomon Vault was, he fell off the board. Vault held offers from Tennessee and Nebraska, among others, but loved his weekend visit and quickly arrived at his decision. Vault, at 5-10, 190, arrives to a loaded depth chart at running back–even with the eventual departure of Venric Mark and Mike Trumpy. He could see time in the slot.
Three-star offensive guard
Grand Rapids Christian (Mich.)
May 3, 2013
"The academics is one thing, but it's about a lot more than that. I got to spend time with the players and it all revolves around character. That starts with Coach Fitzgerald. It was evident that people there work hard and are passionate. There's really a sense of purpose."
Consider this another big scoop for Northwestern. Offensive line coach Adam Cushing is quickly becoming a desirable coach to play for. That's been on display in the recruiting trail, with several standouts in the 2013 class, and already more coming in 2014. Doles–who considered attending service academies–understands the value of character, which factored into his decision. The players, who are often essential in helping commitments, proved to Doles that he would fit into the program. With the O-line all shored up, the Cats can move onto filling out other portions of the impressive class.
Four-star wide receiver
May 6, 2013
"We've been stressing to Dareian the last few weeks that we support him 100 percent no matter what he chooses, but encouraging him to choose a life path, not a football path and Northwestern fits the path." — Heath Watkins, his father
Well, you can celebrate now. The highly touted wide receiver chose Northwestern after considering several schools. He spurned Michigan State, Wisconsin and other Big Ten programs to receive an NU education and fit into this strong offense. Though he plays defensive back in high school, Watkins figures to be the go-to receiver in future years. Once he learns the position, Scout analyst Allen Trieu predicts Watkins will be just fine.