Offense: The Cats add a Punter

Word from the Scout.com recruiting gurus is that Northwestern has a commit from a top 10 punter for the class of 2008. Jimmy Howell, a big leg from South Carolina, committed to the NU Wildcats last week. Here's a quick analysis.

Northwestern does not have a history of offering Punters out of High School
So the report that Jimmy Howell, a 6-6 240 lb Punter/Place Kicker for West Florence, South Carolina has committed to Wildcat coach Pat Fitzgerald, stands out as a fairly major change in recruiting policy by NU.

Most of the punters for the Wildcats under the late coach Randy Walker were walk-ons, it was part of a recruiting philosophy that was based on the theory that scholarship punters don't usually work out, but last year, NU secured a commit from a top ranked kicker prospect - Stephan Demos - who is expected to take over the place kicking duties in 2007 as a redshirt freshman.

Back in Arizona, Demos also punted, and word is that he also works out with the punters but the Cats traditionally have two different players kick and punt - recently, NU has had different kickers handle kick offs too.

Offering and getting a commit from a a top ranked punter prospect - Howell is ranked #7 in the nation by Chris Sailer [Scout.com's Kicking consultant] - could represent a change in recruiting goals under Fitzgerald, but also continues the Walker tradition of trying to recruit a better player for each position, and telling each kid that is what they also plan to do next year.

In any case, the Cats have certainly shored up their kicking game. at least on paper.

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald has assigned the special teams coaching responsibility to himself. It looks like he's out looking to shore up a part of NU's program that has been a little shaky at times. As always, we'll know just how good the effort is in a few years, altho we'll see how good Demos is in September, maybe sooner.
Here's how Howell fits in:

Special Teams


2007 2008 2009 20102011
2012
PK/P
W04
96 Amado Villarreal 96 Amado Villarreal



PK/P
W04
97 Kyle Daley 97 Kyle Daley



K
06**

1 Stefan Demos 1 Stefan Demos 1 Stefan Demos 1 Stefan Demos

P
W06
94 Mark Ison 94 Mark Ison 94 Mark Ison 94 Mark Ison

P
07 *

Jimmy Howell
Jimmy Howell Jimmy Howell Jimmy Howell Jimmy Howell
LS
86 Phil Brunner
86 Phil Brunner



LS
W07
58 John Henry Pace
58 John Henry Pace 58 John Henry Pace 58 John Henry Pace 58 John Henry Pace

This chart represents the besyt guess estimate by Purple Reign of the status of the players on the Northwestern Football Offensive Team.Here is the link to the Scout Eligibility Tracker for Northwestern

Position and year represent the year of their signing class. In addition colors and symbols represent the following:

Bold - on last 2 Deep
Red - Possible Redshirt Year

Bold Purple - Commits/Redshirt year?
"*" After year is # of Stars on Scout.com [Original Recruited Position in brackets]
W = Walkon, bold indicates a scholarship award.


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