Wildcats making new and thorough pitch

Steven Goldstein breaks down some elements of the new Northwestern pitch, and why we expect it to work.

There came a moment in my conversation with 2015 LB prospect Markus Bailey when I realized just how drastically the Northwestern recruiting pitch has changed in the 12 months since Nick and I took over the site. When I asked why the Wildcats, the usual talking points were brought up at first: NU has All-World academics, Pat Fitzgerald and Co. are great at forging personal connections with players, and Chicago is close (just how close depends on who you ask, and how familiar you are with Photoshop).

But then Bailey brought up the new facilities, which were given the green light on March 13. No longer a pipe dream or a hypothetical sell, the Lake Michigan athletic complex seemed attractive to Bailey. He spent much of his Junior Day visit going through facility design, and by the time he left, he got the impression the university is trying to convey. With these upgrades, Northwestern football is literally on the rise.

This is an exciting time for NU recruiting. The team wants to do even better, and after securing the lakeside complex and one of the best class of commits in recent program history, you get the feeling that greater goals can be reached in the near future. That's exactly what's being sold to prospects right now. Join now, and become embedded in the culture as another corner is turned.

They're selling that to specific prospects right now, though. As Nick and I have detailed throughout spring practice sessions, Northwestern finds itself with a surprising level of depth at many positions. Now, it can key in on the right players with the right skill sets, and focus recruiting efforts (as usual) rather than casting a wide net.

"They told me that they don't offer guys at random. Northwestern offers guys who they really want to come," Bailey said March 11. Brothers David and Andrew Dowell are being up front with Adam Cushing. The staff is even getting on players like Aaron Garland to meet their academic standards. The program has its targets, and is letting them know how specialized that targeting process is. These are just some of the many stories.

There are some roadblocks to recruiting the Class of 2015. Northwestern had a tough 5-7 season, and the union developments might confuse many recruits. NU had two commits by the end of March last year; they've yet to land one this time.

But the intense level of system-specific recruiting is working to say the least. Four-star OL Grant Newsome acknowledges the relentless interest from NU. Austin Seibert was pleasantly surprised by an early offer seldom given to kickers.

Northwestern is conveying the image of a strong program—which seems right. The program is taking accountability and is ready to reach that next tier. It's let a specific handful of recruits know that it wants them to be a part of it. Nick and I expect a busy spring simply because Northwestern itself does. Confidence is everything in this process, and NU is hitting the trail strong, like last year's struggles never happened.

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