The three-star middle linebacker from Houston (TX) Clear Lake traveled to Evanston and everything felt right.
That still arrives with some pressure. As always, in the modern recruiting process, players need to evaluate their options quickly.
The ideal visit included his arrival in Chicago — and his experience traversing Lakeshore Drive.
“Coming from Houston, I’m kind of a city guy,” Fox told PurpleWildcats.com. “When we got to Chicago, it was like Houston on steroids. Right off the bat, I thought: ‘Is this where it’s at?’”
Fox might not have held the most information about NU at the time. Still, he was immediately drawn to the “caring” nature of Pat Fitzgerald and one particular experience.
“At first, I wanted to play SEC ball,” he said. “But when I was at the meeting with Coach Fitzgerald, he explained the importance of a degree. That’s what made me think.
“The NFL is my goal, but I thought about my life after football and [NU] became the best option out of any college in the nation.”
Linebackers coach Randy Bates then informed him that he was their top priority at “Mike” linebacker. That added a timetable, he said, given that another middle linebacker planned to visit campus a week after.
Days later, he committed. Fox never regretted his decision — not even close — but still recognized the gravity of his choice. Fox had no idea he was the first commit of the class until Fitzgerald told him.
“At first, what really helped was how happy the coaches sounded,” Fox said. “I thought: ‘Even if I learn more and don’t like it, I still like the people there.’ But I was kind of nervous at first.”
That concern was assuaged in the perfect form. He had the opportunity to learn even more about the program. Instead of building worry, it reassured him.
“There have been a lot of changes since, but they’re all great changes,” he said. “It was just a nice surprise. There’s nothing bad about it.”
The major learning of this series — focusing on 2015 commits — is that commits pushed one another to stay happy with the decision. They became a sort of community.
“They all seem like great players,” he said of the class. “Everyone seems excited. Tommy Vitale, John Moten, Trent Goens… we talk on Facebook. We’re trying to get a date for all the commits to go up there.”
Usually, “early” commits are associated with de-commitments. They’re players who rush decision and leave unhappy. That happened in the case of NU’s first commit last year, Jordan Thomas.
This year, their first commit is as solid as any of them. Preaching the value of Northwestern, Nathan Fox took the leap of faith — and it certainly paid off.