Anoa'i blindsides Northwestern with late flip

Hamilton Anoa'i decommitted from Northwestern on Tuesday night, leaving the Wildcats one linebacker short on National Signing Day.

In December, the Northwestern coaching staff gave James Prather some bad news. They informed Prather of their intention to fill the 2014 recruiting class with a linebacker instead of a defensive end. They needed one.

The Wildcats snapped up a commitment from Junipero Serra (Calif.) linebacker Hamilton Anoa'i.

"I heard that it was first come, first serve," he said after making his decision. "Basically, it was my best offer."

After some drama and de-commitments, they finally closed the group with one defensive end and the best available—also a defensive end.

They had their linebacker, and then he bolted.

Cal Rivals reported Tuesday night that Anoa'i flipped his commitment to California, leaving the Wildcats in a disappointing hole on National Signing Day. Though they are expected to fill the class by removing the "gray shirt" from recent safety commit Jared McGee, the Wildcats missed their quota.

This comes less than three weeks after defensive end Noah Westerfield flipped to Cal, and one year after linebacker Ray Davison did the same. It creates an interesting tension between the teams, given that they open the 2014 season against each other at Ryan Field.

It's also a rare, dramatic NSD moment for the program. It's one that should color Pat Fitzgerald's remarks to the media tomorrow, with Anoa'i the fourth player to de-commit from the 2014 class.

This one blindsided them, which certainly explains their willingness to gray shirt McGee. With a heavy rotation of upperclassmen at linebacker, Fitzgerald and Randy Bates hoped to build depth at the position. Anoa'i was no ace recruit, but they're still left with a difficult void despite a full class.

Stay tuned to PurpleWildcats.com for coverage of Northwestern's National Signing Day.


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