"We will continue to gain on the improvement we saw in the first three days. I saw a very well conditioned football team."
Fitzgerald emphasized something we've seen in the early stages of Northwestern practice. The team appears physically prepared for the 2013 season, which speaks to its determination and character. Fitzgerald gave "credit" to the young men, adding that the summer was crucial to their development. Not only that, the incoming freshman class–by all accounts–has met the expectations in terms of physical fitness.
"It's our staff vision: Be the best player development staff in the country."
Fitzgerald raved about coaching continuity, easily one of NU's major selling points. Jamie Lovegrove wrote an excellent piece earlier this year about how crucial that element is to achieving success. Recruits are assured that the coaches remain together, and that helps Fitz on the trail. He mentioned the importance of "competitive salaries" in easing the process of keeping talented assistants at Northwestern.
Jordan Bernfield of WGN asked about Tyler Scott during the question period, and Fitzgerald delivered his most impassioned response of the morning. Fitz first praised Scott for his work ethic, mentioning his low-profile recruitment and "hurt shirt," as the defensive end arrived on campus with a major shoulder injury. He said that his versatility ("He'd probably be our starting tight end") would lend itself well to the professional level. It was quite the convincing pitch for one of his senior leaders by example.
Filling the holes
Fitzgerald made an excellent point about Dan Vitale. Last season, everyone wondered how the Wildcats would recover from losing Drake Dunsmore—before Vitale filled in admirably. Now, he said, the media asks how the offensive line can replace three starters from last season. He said that with good recruiting, everything falls into place.
Fitzgerald talked about the Kenosha experience and its effect on players: "They come back and go: ‘How old am I? 30?'" The head coach said that today will be the first mentally intense practice. Before, these simply involved installation. Members of the redshirt freshman and freshman classes will either be prepared or overwhelmed. It's time to figure that out.
The head coach praised his top four options at quarterback. Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian have been emotionally mature and supportive of each other. Meanwhile, he said Zack Oliver looks excellent in early practices. Although Matt Alviti will redshirt, he's been exceptional. We didn't need Fitzgerald to tell us that.
We'll have more from the practice field this afternoon. Stay tuned to PurpleWildcats.com for the latest on Northwestern football.