Versatility on display

In this Purple Wildcats Insider update, Steven Goldstein writes about the already versatile 2014 recruiting class.

There's a whole lot you can say about the eight commits Northwestern has scooped up thus far. A quick glance at scouting reports and high school honors shows that this class is already athletic, smart, and perhaps most importantly, passionate about bringing the program to new heights.

From where they'll do that, however, remains to be seen.

These eight Cats-to-be aren't just exciting because of their noted talent levels. Many of these guys can make huge impacts at numerous positions, giving the fast-paced, ever-rotating Wildcats just what they need going forward.

Tommy Doles ranks among the best guards in the nation, but with athleticism already in place and a few more pounds of muscle likely being added this offseason, he could be flexible as a tackle. Ben Oxley, meanwhile, projects to play on either the offensive or defensive line. For a team that has stressed depth in the trenches, Doles and Oxley are encouraging fits.

Clayton Thorson doubles as a dual-threat quarterback and a speedy 6-4 wideout—with the latter a potential option if Matt Alviti earns the starting QB job in future years. Solomon Vault fits in the backfield as well as the slot. Right as the versatile Kain Colter is on his way out of Evanston, these two will be coming in, continuing Northwestern's option attack that defenses have struggled to contain over the past two years.

Cameron Quiero has the speed off the edge to be a playmaking outside linebacker but has the size of a safety. Then there's Dareian Watkins, whose four-star athleticism and experience at wideout, running back, defensive back and even quarterback gives Northwestern endless opportunities in the playbook.

The class of 2014's upside on the field and dedication off it is music to Pat Fitzgerald's ears. But if there's one thing we know about Fitz the football mind–not Fitz the program head or Fitz the recruiter–it's that he loves to tinker with personnel. Have at it, Coach.

In a year where depth is slim along the offensive line and unproven in the secondary, welcoming eight versatile athletes is already an encouraging sign. It speaks to the pure talent of this group, and more significantly, how well this talent fits into the Northwestern system.

Ultimately, the Cats' unpredictability becomes all the more fun with the start of this class. Where undetermined positions might be cause for concern in some programs, they're actually promising under Fitzgerald.

Vault, Thorson and Watkins could be absolutely anywhere in a given offensive formation while Oxley might not even be in it. Fitz preaches the importance of getting kids who flat out like playing football. Where they play it isn't his concern at the moment.

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