Weekly Wildcat Watch

In this June 21 edition of the Weekly Wildcat Watch, Purple Reign compiles stories about Collin Ellis, Northwestern's first commitment of 2010, as well as Patrick Ward, the Wildcats' top recruit of 2009. There are also numerous mentions -- none flattering -- of the Cats' non-conference schedule. Articles this week come from the Chicago Tribune, ESPN.com, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and more.

Before delving into the handful of outcries regarding Northwestern's non-conference schedule, there were a few articles that didn't mention NU's cupcake buffet.

The best is probably this one about incoming Northwestern lineman Patrick Ward, who was named to the Chicago Tribune Scholar-Athlete team. The feature, fittingly, doesn't talk much about football, instead focusing on Ward's academic past and future.

One of the opening lines is, "…he hopes to make it in the NFL. If that doesn't work out, then he'll become a rocket scientist." That pretty much sums up where the article goes – the 4.78 GPA, the 35 ACT score, the co-valedictorian honors, the teachers that laud his work ethic and the coach who couldn't believe Ward kept coming to work out a 6 a.m.

Purple Reign spoke with Ward a few weeks ago for this story about Northwestern being on the rise, and he really is an impressive guy. Yeah, he's the No. 25-ranked offensive tackle in the nation, but he also has an air about him that is uncommon for someone his age. Not only did he return PR's phone call – somewhat of a rarity in itself – but he exudes intelligence and confidence.

Anyway, the piece is worth a read. NU scored big with Ward.

Here and here are some local stories about Baton Rouge, La., native Collin Ellis, who became the Wildcats' first commit from the class of 2010. The first is from NewOrleans.com, the second from a Baton Rouge newspaper, The Advocate. The Advocate article includes a few quotes from Ellis, but of course it's nothing like the full-throated coverage you can get here.

Alas, the brunt of Northwestern coverage this week was regarding the team's football schedule. ESPN.com got in on the acttwice – as did this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and this one from Examiner.com.

Purple Reign's two cents: The Week 3 game at Syracuse is trickier than these people think. Outside of that, yeah, NU's schedule is easy. Really easy. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Decry the schedule if you must, but it's not hard to argue that teams like Northwestern shouldn't bother tracking down tough opponents out of conference.

There has been a bit of debate about NU's schedule on the Ryan Field message board, so check that out if you want to weigh in on this topic.

Finally, here and here you can read about Northwestern hoopster John Shurna, who last week made the USA U19 National Team. He is one of 12 players on the team, and the only one from the Big Ten.

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