Welcome to the Family

Washington native John Froland, Northwestern's newest commit, admits that he wasn't hot on the idea of relocating to the Midwest. But after some fickle recruiting from other schools, Froland realized that Northwestern -- while 2,000 miles away -- felt the most like home.

The school 30 minutes away felt less like home than the school 2,000 miles away. That was maybe John Froland's biggest hint.

Froland, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive tackle, was getting recruited by universities close to his hometown of Snohomish, Wash. – Washington, Washington State, Oregon State and Oregon among them.

And Froland, a 2010 prospect, admits that he had an eye on those schools too.

"Personally, I don't want to be in the Midwest too much," Froland told Purple Reign on Friday. "I'm kind of a West Coast guy. I like the mountains. I was fine going out of state, but I didn't want to be 2,500 miles away."

Lo and behold, that's where Froland is heading after giving a verbal commitment to NU this week. He becomes the team's tenth overall commit for 2010 and its second defensive line commit this week, along with Texas three-star recruit Will Hampton. And after nabbing a trio of Florida recruits – Shontrelle Johnson, Trevor Siemian and Rashad Lawrence – Froland marks the first West Coast signing of the class.

So Froland both shores up the D-line and expands the recruiting map. Not bad.

And it's all the better for NU because Froland didn't have to decide on Northwestern. He had some options, holding offers from Air Force, Colorado and New Mexico; Washington, Oregon and Oregon State were among those showing interest.

But while Northwestern was the furthest school away to recruit Froland, and while he admits that he is a West Coaster at heart, the warmth radiating from Evanston was palpable.

"They came to me out of the blue and talked to my coach and all that," Froland said of Northwestern, which was the first school to offer. "It wasn't, ‘Let's see who else offers and maybe we'll offer you.'"

That we-really-want-you treatment impressed Froland, who made a visit to Evanston in June.

"New Mexico and Colorado hadn't offered yet, and they would say, ‘Has anyone else offered? No? Well, we'll be in touch.'

"I told them, ‘Well, Northwestern wants me. They're trying to fill out their roster and they've offered.' And the next morning I got a call with an offer (from Colorado)."

There are (at least) two ways to read the fickleness of other schools' recruitment of Froland. First off, maybe he wasn't a priority for them. Maybe there weren't offers because Froland – who weighed just 220 pounds during his junior year – wasn't the prototype D-tackle, and Oregon and Washington and the rest weren't excited about such a svelte lineman.

Or maybe – and this is what Froland hinted at – Northwestern just out-recruited everyone else.

Washington, for example, is only about 35 minutes from where Froland lives. Accordingly, the Huskies invited Froland to a practice, and Froland obliged. But after watching an hours-long practice, Froland says he got but a two-minute chat from a UW coach – which was a bit off-putting to Froland.

"Well that's nice," Froland remembers thinking.

So when the Huskies later invited Froland to their team camp, he had a hard time getting excited about the school that had been so curt following practice.

Said Froland: "They called and said, ‘Why don't you come to our camp.' And it's like, ‘Why bother? I'm 30 minutes away from you. How about you come up to my games?' A school 2,500 miles away can take the time to come see me and talk to my coach and watch film, and you can't come up 30 minutes?'

"There's that sense that they really wanted me (at Northwestern)."

Oregon, another nearby school, was similarly unaccommodating in its recruitment of Froland.

"At Oregon," Froland said, "it's just, ‘We have the nicest facilities, and if you don't want to be here then we don't care.'"

The situation in Evanston couldn't have been much more different. Aside from being offered early and unequivocally – without the who-else-has-offered waiting game – Froland was pleasantly surprised to see the treatment he and other players got at Northwestern.

"When I went over there," Froland said, "I didn't know any of the coaches, never met them. And then the first day I met the defensive line coach and I met his family, met his kids, he talked about how has his players over for dinner. At the other schools – Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford – I never heard that before. At Northwestern, they talk about really being there for you….

"They really had a sense of family, like they're really interested in me: Them wanting me there instead of just me wanting to be there."

And now, even if it's a bit surprising to this self-admitted Left Coast homer, Froland wants to be at Northwestern.

Froland thinks he will likely redshirt as a freshman, an idea supported by the fact that the scale still only reads 245. According to Froland, D-line coach Marty Long said that 270 to 280 pounds would be more ideal for Froland's projected spot in the trenches.

But if Froland doesn't have an immediate impact as a freshman, and instead finds himself at NU for five years, that's no problem. Because even though it's more than 2,000 miles away, it already feels a bit like home.

"They coaching staff is family-oriented," Froland said. "And you're not just a piece of meat playing football. They take care of you, make sure you're taken care of."

With Froland joining Hampton in the 2010 class, the defensive line is getting taken care of as well.

To reach David Vranicar, publisher of Purple Reign, please contact northwestern.scout@gmail.com.


Purple Wildcats Top Stories