2014 Update: Still one scholarship hanging

PurpleWildcats.com expects Northwestern to fill its 2014 recruiting class before Signing Day, one week from today.

When Jordan Thomas de-committed from Northwestern last week, the three-star safety gave the Wildcats 17 days to find his replacement. Clearly, they didn't have an immediate one.

It was a stark contrast from Noah Westerfield, who, by sundown, was replaced by under-recruited defensive end James Prather in the 2014 recruiting class.

That also didn't mean that they lacked ideas. NU took quick note of former Vanderbilt commit Kameron Uter. PurpleWildcats.com reported he would visit this weekend, on Jan. 31, but found out two days ago that he changed his mind.

Now, with one scholarship left and no major leads, we might be in for rare Signing Day entertainment. Usually, Northwestern shores up its class, the fax machine turns on, and nothing of interest happens.

They could always pocket the scholarship for 2015, but that seems unlikely for many reasons. The first is this: Because NU finished its recruiting class so early—and filled most of it by May—they were bound to turn down more players than usual. Guys they would've taken—and who could still be available.

Prather himself formed a perfect example of this. He visited Evanston in Thanksgiving, but for their last spot, the Wildcats chose to take linebacker Hamilton Anoa'i due to position breakdowns. They liked him; there was just no room. So when Westerfield (fortunately) bolted, they had somewhere to look.

There's no immediate alternative to Prather, but that doesn't mean they lack options. They could be evaluating tens or hundreds of kids' films, looking for sleepers who often succeed in Evanston. Better, they're not tied down to one position. This situation screams "best available player," and surely, they can find someone.

Moreover, anyone around NU is confident with this: The Wildcats take pride in dodging the importance of star rankings. Their last scholarship almost always lands with someone who makes an impact.

And, oh, they love recruiting. Pat Fitzgerald offered at least two players on the day his players filed a petition to unionize. Where they lacked in wins, they made up for by securing a strong 2014 class that could get better before Signing Day.

Signing Day dramatics or not, stick with PurpleWildcats.com for all of your coverage of Northwestern football recruiting.

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