The Zone Read: Patience wins for NU

There's no need for risky offers. Northwestern has it all together, and now, we wait.

On June 17th, Malik Turner did everything aside from earning his Northwestern offer. The three-star wide receiver attended Northwestern camp and adjusted well to defensive drills.

Because the Wildcats will accept no more offensive commitments for the class of 2014, Turner was forced to showcase his athleticism on the other side of the ball. In just about every measurable skill, he excelled. He was likely the best player in a talented camp—and looked to haul in an offer at either linebacker or safety.

Despite his clear talent, NU made the decision not to offer, and Turner committed to Illinois shortly after. With 12 commits lined up for 2014, the Wildcats coaching staff can get picky. It's the ideal situation.

So while fans wait, they can appreciate how quickly everything took shape. There's no reason for NU to throw out uncertain offers; the staff can take its time assuming that three strong players will round out the class. They're fine with remaining patient.

This is why, when we look at the current NU recruiting picture, we see question marks. Many unsigned players are deciding between NU and other strong offers. Guys like Parrker Westphal and Garrett Dickerson are taking their time. The process will speed up eventually, but for now, NU can wait.

It leaves them focused on one primary need and some secondary ones. They're desperate to lock down at least one defensive end, aiming high for some top talents. Despite (unsurprisingly) losing out on Noah Furbush, they are staring at five potential game-changers.

Of course, there's Garrett Dickerson, who kept NU at the bottom of his Top 3. Noah Westerfield visited yesterday, and appears the most likely candidate to join this class. Jaylen Johnson, Bobby Okereke and Grant Blankenship are all considering NU as part of their shortlists, and all would be exciting gets.

When uncertainty surrounds any recruiting class, the natural inclination is to toss out risky offers. But by locking up 80 percent of the class in mid-June, they ensured the final 20 would be safe. With only one serious pressing need–and perhaps some looks at safety–we can relax and wait for splashes. It's very likely that some big-time impact player name chooses NU, as each coach can dedicate his attention to two or three top players.

One thing I love about the NU staff: There's always so much clarity. It's evidenced whenever they leverage players into commits before position groups fill up. The stability helps in the general sense, but also helps them identify recruiting needs before quickly following through.

Is it calm before the storm? Probably. Even if they land the quieter names, we'll in all likelihood view the class of 2014 as one of the most special groups in program history. They reflect the team's burgeoning reputation and ambition.

Right now, there's not much to talk about. It's better that way. NU waits for recruits they seriously hope to land as other programs scramble. There's nothing wrong with being on this end.


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