NU had chosen to complete its 2014 recruiting class with a linebacker, leaving Memphis (Tenn.) product James Prather on the outside.
"They filled up and I was out of luck," Prather told PurpleWildcats.com on Thursday night. "I didn't think that was going to happen for me. I was focused on my other offers."
Prather had fallen for Northwestern quickly. He visited campus during Thanksgiving weekend and grew to know the coaching staff. And despite the tough news, he held out hope.
Today, in the wake of Noah Westerfield's decommitment from NU, the staff called Prather immediately. He decided immediately: "They offered me and I jumped right on it."
Good recruiting schools can do things like this. They always have backups prepared in case these situations occur. When Westerfield decided to visit Cal, they had his replacement in mind.
The same values that drove Westerfield out brought Prather in.
"Coach Fitzgerald is very impressive," Prather said. "I like what he stands for. He's big on loyalty and all of that."
"He's tough, hard working, and that's what I am as well," Prather said.
And a big publisher's note: I talked to Noah Westerfield and James Prather perhaps an hour apart. I heard one who fully believed in the NU program and one who had tuned out completely. That happens, but it's Pat Fitzgerald. He wants the guys who buy in, and Prather is one of them.
"It's a perfect fit on all fronts," Prather said.
You can replace defensive ends. You can't replace passion for a program. Prather joins an impressive 2014 recruiting class.