Recruit rhetoric

At this point of the year, recruits often decline to give their short-list. Maybe they don't want to turn off any potential suitors, or maybe they, you know, don't have a short-list. Still, Purple Reign wonders if it's possible to glean anything from how various recruits are talking about their offers. Inside, a look at some recruit rhetoric and the schools sharing sentence space with NU.

At this point of the year, recruits often decline to give their short-list. Maybe they don't want to turn off any potential suitors, or maybe they, you know, don't have a short-list.

Still, Purple Reign wonders if it's possible to glean anything from how various recruits are talking about their offers. So, how about a look at some recruit rhetoric and the schools sharing sentence space with Northwestern?

Michael Bennett, a 20-plus-offer offensive lineman from Centerville, Ohio, was the player who sparked this intrigue. In a recent interview with Michigan's Scout.com page, Bennett was talking about the myriad schools that have offered. It's a big-time list, one that stretches all over the country and boasts name-brand outfits like Alabama and Michigan and Notre Dame and West Virginia, not to mention upstarts like Ball State and Cincinnati and UAB.

Well, when pressed about which schools had offered, Bennett told Blue Wolverines: "I have 26 [offers] right now. Oklahoma, Nebraska, Northwestern, Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa…there are a lot of them."

Translated into historical-speak, that quote would read: I have 26 right now. The 2003 national champions offered, so did the fourth all-time winningest team, Northwestern, the 2009 national champions, the 2002 national champs…there are a lot of them.

Asked about visits, the 6-3, 270-pound Bennett added: "I'm hoping to visit Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Northwestern, Cincinnati and maybe a couple of others."

Now, of course these quotes aren't a tell-tale sign that Bennett is trying to choose between Oklahoma, Nebraska, Michigan and Northwestern. Or that he prefers Northwestern to Alabama. Or that Michigan and Michigan State rank behind Ohio State. These quotes aren't a tell-tale sign of anything, really. But it's still interesting that Northwestern was mentioned so quickly, amid such lofty company.

What's also interesting is that Bennett isn't the only one with the intriguing rhetoric.

Jordan Walsh, the No. 2-rated guard in the nation, had a similar quote when talking to SuperPreps.com recruiting analyst Allen Trieu. Trieu asked the 6-3, 275-pound Walsh – who, like NU hoops star John Shurna, is from Glen Ellyn, Ill. – which schools he'd be visiting.

"Northwestern for sure for their junior day," Walsh said. "Next weekend I'm going to Notre Dame, and then a few others, but I haven't finalized any yet."

Walsh isn't hopping around country seeing schools. He has only visited Michigan; the upcoming list includes only Notre Dame and Northwestern. Hmm. Makes you think NU is in the top three, right? At least at the moment? (The fact that NU had eight wins last season compared to 11 total for ND and UM can't hurt, either.)

As nice as it is to have two of the best offensive linemen in the 2011 class listing NU near the top of their lists, it's not just big ‘uns who have been doing it. Five-foot-11 running back Savon Huggins, a New Jersey native with more than 20 written offers, did the same thing the other day when talking to Scout recruiting analyst Matt Alkire.

"I got written offers from Florida State, Florida, Alabama, Northwestern, South Carolina, Penn State and Pittsburgh over the last week," Huggins said.

Eat your hearts out, Steve Spurrier and Joe Paterno. Huggins mentioned Northwestern first.

Staying in the backfield...four-star quarterback C.J. Uzomah, the No. 9 QB in the nation, has already made some visits; he went to Junior Days at Auburn and Georgia in February. But he is already booked for his upcoming spring break: Florida and Northwestern.

In this article, Scout.com recruiting analyst Allen Wallace wrote:

During his spring break, Uzomah says he's going to try and visit Northwestern and Florida as well. "Northwestern has great academics," he said. "The program is up-and-coming and coach Pat Fitzgerald is a great person and it seems like a place I might like. I've never been there so I wanna check it out.

"I also plan on going to Florida," he said. "It's a good program and I haven't heard anything but good things about them."

Gotta like how the "also" was for Florida, not Northwestern.

So two of the nation's top offensive lineman, the No. 7 running back and the No. 9 quarterback are all talking favorably about Northwestern. What's more, they're not saying this stuff to Purple Reign. These are all from interviews from other Scout sites or Scout recruiting analysts.

I'll concede again that this analysis may mean nothing. In fact, even calling it an "analysis" might be overstating things. These kids could have just had a bunch of mail lying around and ticked off the schools however the letters were strewn about. Or they could have recently spoken to a Northwestern coach and had NU fresh in their memories. Or they could have visualized a map in their heads and hopped from state to state. Who knows.

But coming off back-to-back bowls and a combined 17 wins over the past two seasons, one could be forgiven for thinking that the perception of Northwestern is changing with recruits. And besides, at this point of the year, with commitments yet to begin in earnest, sometimes all you have to go on is rhetoric. And the rhetoric from these guys is encouraging.

You can comment on this story at the Ryan Field Message Board.


Purple Wildcats Top Stories