This past month took care of that.
As is true of so many other things, May has changed Northwestern's outlook along the O-line. With Blake Hance joining Tommy Doles in the class of 2014, the Wildcats solidify a tackle tandem that could spring Auston Anderson and Justin Jackson to monstrous future seasons.
Hance's 6-5 frame and athleticism makes him perfect for the fast-pace option offense that Mick McCall runs. His experience at tight end gives the program's most versatile class ever even more flexibility. His choice of Northwestern over the likes of Nebraska and Mississippi State shouldn't be a surprise.
In the same way that Jackson will rely on Hance to break off big gains one day, Hance's commitment was contingent on the momentum Northwestern was building. It far outshines that of many other big-name programs.
"They've already got a very good class for my grade, and that's definitely impressive," Hance told PW Wednesday, just a few hours before he would commit. "That's definitely an attractive thing to me."
It's an attractive thing to Wildcats fans too. "The rich get richer," the adage goes, and it's applicable to recruiting now more than ever. After Jackson committed earlier this week, Hance follows suit for the opportunity to be a part of a dynamic offense and a talented recruiting class. Forget star rankings and reputations. Another link in the chain prompts even more touted prospects to join.
And of course, there's no better momentum than that in the trenches. Picking up high-flying skill position players is certainly enticing, but no running back or wideout wants to commit without a stable group of linemen up front. Hance's lean, physical style of play should keep this momentum going strong, and it should fit right in to the Northwestern offense when Jack Konopka and Paul Jorgensen graduate—if not before then.
Northwestern's already up to 10 commits this spring, at least seven of which line up on the offensive side of the ball. Those expecting NU's recent scoring surge to stop after Kain Colter and Venric Mark leave next year will likely be mistaken.
Let the momentum roll. Hance is just another link in the chain.