Prather commits; Westerfield bolts in shuffle

James Prather in, Noah Westerfield out as the Northwestern recruiting shuffle continues.

The report flew in: 2014 linebacker James Prather to Northwestern.

This was perplexing for multiple reasons:

First, we weren't aware that Northwestern had any scholarships available for this recruiting class.

Second, we hadn't really heard of Prather — or even identified a need for extra linebackers.

But it all makes sense: Noah Westerfield recently informed the coaching staff of his decision to visit California in the coming weeks. He knew the consequences, yet stuck with his decision. His de-commitment was first reported by

"I really thought about it a lot lately," Westerfield told in an exclusive interview. "I have to experience a lot of other campuses. I love Northwestern, but I'm seeing some other options."

Northwestern moved quickly to give his scholarship to Prather, a Memphis linebacker who turned heads with recent strong play. The Wildcats added to their strong class with another sleeper recruit; they succeed in this department more often than not.

Despite the unrest, and the inherent disappointment of losing another 2014 commit (its second), NU did what strong recruiting schools do. The program found an immediate alternative, someone they must believe in.

Pat Fitzgerald once again honored his promise: If you commit to NU, you're not visiting anywhere else. That could be relevant soon, with reports surfacing that 2014 defensive back Jordan Thomas will visit Oklahoma. Per a source, that situation is of yet unresolved.

For now: Prather-for-Westerfield on a busy night for Northwestern recruiting.

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