Football Recruiting Mailbag

The Purple Wildcats mailbag returns to discuss football recruiting.

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions to the mailbag. Due to the large number of questions, we'll split this into two or three installments. This one centers on tough football recruiting questions.

Are we done at 15, or is there a chance we have more slots?
— EvanstonCat

Done at 15. All recruits are being told that there are two spots remaining. This entire coaching staff, especially Fitzgerald, is renowned for its honesty. Everyone from Garrett Dickerson on down the priority list understands this limit. Visit, or else.

As has been noted, there is an outside possibility that spots open up on the current roster. But they'll stop recruiting–or lose all momentum–when they reach 15. Fitzgerald has been very open about the limit, and though you might selfishly wish that they held back on some past scholarships, this is the reality.

Do you think that the coaches will be any more selective with who they choose to target now that there are only two spots left?
— vandy735

Because Northwestern is traditionally selective with offers, I don't anticipate this happening. Perhaps Parrker Westphal earns one more call per week than some other recruits, but they're sold on everyone who can join this class. Other schools follow different principles, but NU will stick to its guys.

They're human. Ideally, it would be Dickerson and Westphal, but that probably won't happen. The only condition involves the position requirements, with one defensive back needed. Other than that, the race is on.

From same commenter: Do you think in light of this recruiting class that the coaches will be more selective with their offers down the road if they believe they can get better talent?

There are two lines of thought here. It's difficult to think that Pat Fitzgerald will somehow alter his evaluation process. Will he think someone is less worthy simply because the NU reputation has grown? In the broader sense, I'd say no.

It's entirely possible, though, that they do withhold early offers—knowing that everything will fall into place. I'd imagine that in the future, they could wait on some fringe offers.

They do look at this system differently than some other schools. Fitzgerald cares so little about star ratings. Could he have hauled in three prospects more highly rated than Nathan Hall? No question, but that didn't change his perception that Hall was worthy of an outside linebacker spot.

This is all relative. They might be more precise, but I doubt they'd change the overall approach. It's worked pretty well. Very good question.

In talking to recruits, how much sense do you get that the lakefront facility is a factor in the recruiting upswing we've had for football?
— John Roby

Three major factors in recruiting upswing:

1) Pat Fitzgerald backed up his character and recruiting ability with an excellent season.
2) They established relationships with strong players early in the process, and subsequently earned their trust before other top schools could.
3) Not to take away from any of these achievements, but momentum certainly helped. Guys looked at the solid class and wanted to join.

Until Jim Phillips establishes the final timetable for lakefront facilities, I have a hard time believing it contributes much to the typical recruit's decision. Fitzgerald doesn't need to pitch far-off improvements in order to find success.

(What should be an all-caps disclaimer: They need to renovate Welsh-Ryan Arena. I can't even begin to describe how much more vital that seems to this department.)

It's come up in some discussions, but not many. This school does seem committed to advancing its football program, and that's what matters.

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