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 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 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–looks set for several years under Adam Cushing. Oxley 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 (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.
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.
Three-star running back
May 9, 2013
"I'm on board with the program and I like the way they're headed. On paper, it's one of the best recruiting classes they've ever had at Northwestern. I'm looking forward to getting up there and getting to work."
After Anderson committed, someone pointed out that Venric Mark set the standard. You can succeed at NU regardless of size—one characteristic that the newest Wildcat lacks. This system makes sense and fits well within his style. Stanford expressed significant interest, but that program relies on sizable backs that pound the ball between the tackles. The most important things: First, he denied in-state Texas for NU. Second, he adds to the stunning backfield depth, which can leave fans confident when Mark and Trumpy graduate.
Four-star running back
Carol Stream (Ill.)
May 14, 2013
"There's definitely a type of player that Northwestern recruits. They're very precise with who they offer. The players are all very well spoken. Those are the type of people I want to associate myself with."
Cue the excitement and future backfield depth. After labeling NU his favorite school for months, Jackson finally committed last week. Even with another running back (Anderson) giving his verbal to the Cats, Jackson expressed his eagerness to face competition. He doesn't want anything handed to him, but looks to prove himself to the NU coaching staff. We're betting he can do it. With impressive elusiveness and athleticism, Jackson added to the recruiting momentum with his long-awaited pledge.
Three-star offensive tackle
May 15, 2013
"I know this recruiting class is really taking off … And the football is tremendous right now. We're looking to keep that going."
The backstory behind the Blake Hance commitment is especially exciting for the program. Hance loved NU, but needed an extra push to make the early decision. Being the only offensive line offer for NU, he knew the coaching staff would evaluate other candidates—just incase. So he played it safe and gave his verbal to the school with which he held the most valuable relationships. It was another recruiting victory that cemented the strength of this offensive line depth chart for years to come.
Three-star defensive tackle
May 28, 2013
"Most people think Kansas football isn't known. But I'm glad I can go up there and show that we can play ball just like everyone else."
In a year of great recruiting stories, Fred Wyatt's in particular stands out. His dad, Buddy, coached at Northwestern from 1997-98. Then, Pat Fitzgerald was a graduate assistant, and the families remained close. This process culminated in Fred's commitment to NU, with the full support of those close to him. Wyatt seems like another perfect fit: He fills a need on the defensive line and could be a sleeper and under-recruited talent. Wyatt demonstrated his commitment to academics, and was sold after his visit with C.J. Robbins.
Two-star outside linebacker
June 17, 2013
"When I got the offer, [Jimmy] said: ‘Congratulations, man. All of the hard work paid off.'"
This one stayed in the family. Shortly after receiving an offer, Hall contacted Pat Fitzgerald during a Chicago Blackhawks playoff game to give his verbal. Hall began to develop an important bond with Fitzgerald from the eighth grade forward. Then, Fitz was recruiting his brother Jimmy. After learning more about the program, it seemed an ideal fit, and Hall joined the class as that elusive outside linebacker target. Though he was under-recruited, NU doesn't hand out offers. He clearly impressed them enough at the pivotal camp.
Three-star defensive end
July 8, 2013
"I'll get to the quarterback. I'm going to come in and work hard every day, challenge the quarterback and prove that this class is the real deal."
Westerfield had an impressive visit to NU on the 5th, which set aside any concerns he might have had about playing far from home. Fitzgerald compared graduation rates of his other schools, which convinced him of the team's academic reputation. Then, the two reportedly had a fairly moving and candid discussion. NU needed its defensive end, and Westerfield is an excellent pickup. With two more commits remaining, it's an especially exciting time for Northwestern football. These next ones could be great.