Northwestern freshmen refuse to mail it in

The incoming freshman class made an overall excellent impression as Training Camp opened on Monday.

Tommy Fuessel has my body type, basically.

That means he will likely not play this season.

That did not mean Fuessel's teammates shied away from praising the freshman wide receiver after his first training camp practice.

(There's also this: Fuessel played quarterback in high school. Northwestern has a rich history of two-star prospects finding success after position changes. The list includes Dan Vitale and Tyler Scott.)

Fuessel was not alone in his intense efforts. As NU continues to recruit better talent with its ever-growing profile, Fitzgerald will deal with an increasing number of college-ready players.

Asked if there were any standouts in terms of effort, Christian Jones–to my surprise–quickly mentioned the true freshman.

"Tom Fuessel was out here killing it," he said. "He got out there in his first day at wide receiver and did everything he could. He was really trying hard today."

On Monday, Pat Fitzgerald responded to my question about freshman readiness with five reasons to back up his redshirt tendency. With this team, you can guess that all but maybe a handful of players from the 2013 signing class will sit out the year.

Does that not make you admire their effort more? Most senior leaders on the team say something along these lines: If you commit to staying awake during your freshman season, you're really destined for great things.

This group bought in immediately. During Big Ten Media Days, Venric Mark raved about incoming freshmen on the offensive line—not the least of whom is Minooka (Ill.) product Blake King. The preparation begins well before they arrive on campus, and one important account came through with some praise.

"Those last three [O-line] positions are up for grabs," Mark said. "We have people fighting for these positions. Those freshmen came in ready: They're the right weight… They have the right mindset already. Theirs and my mindset are very compatible."

In the first practice, last year's redshirts–guys like middle linebacker Jaylen Prater–looked prepared for action this season. That begins with the serious patience and diligence required of first-year players.

And for these incoming guys: So far, so good.

Stay tuned for more subscriber-exclusive updates at as Northwestern returns to the practice field.

Purple Wildcats Top Stories