Recruiting Notes: The Back Half

Publisher Nick Medline offers some thoughts on the 2014 recruiting class.

Offer numbers misleading

Judging from everything I've heard surrounding this Northwestern recruiting class, the first commit might be the jewel. Safety Jordan Thomas gave his verbal to Northwestern months before the vast majority of decisions take place. That effectively kills any chances at future offers, which would have flown in had Thomas left his recruitment open.

So the discussion that involves "beating" other schools can be equal parts exciting and misleading. Yes, NU beat Texas for Auston Anderson straight-up. Though Nebraska tried to enter the race for Solomon Vault, the Wildcats essentially locked him up with an effective visit. Excluding Thomas from the discussion is criminal. Every recruitment differs, and while the program has made strides, it's difficult to judge talent by their offer lists.

Coach Cushing The Winner

After Adam Cushing's excellent coaching effort in 2012, recruits believe in his ability and vision. Four strong linemen committed to play for him last season. Now, Ben Oxley (who will begin on the D-line) and Tommy Doles join the rapidly improving unit. By every measure, the offensive line exceeded expectations last season. Left with the difficult task of replacing two high-caliber starters, Cushing's unit sprung Venric Mark to his memorable campaign.

Heading into 2013, this is the most confusing position group to sort out. It's likely that someone far off the radar could be the breakout starter. Veteran center Brandon Vitabile helps the cause, but it'll take more surprising efforts to repeat last year's strong performance. Thankfully, the future appears promising up front.

Defense the current focus

Does this team have room for another top-tier offensive player like Justin Jackson? Absolutely, but from this point forward, expect most commits to shore up the defensive depth chart. The team is set at quarterback. Jackson would add another layer to the already solid backfield, and the Dareian Watkins pledge cements an impressive receiving corps—at least on paper.

Many posters have commented on the forums about potential areas of need. On the record, I'd predict another linebacker–such as Brandon Lee–and excellent pass-rushing end (Garrett Dickerson or not) to supplement the 2014 group. This team has thrived on addressing areas of need. The Wildcats must be confident in their eight-man bunch thus far, but don't expect any complacency when they assemble the back half.

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