Chris Johnson
By (@ChrisDJohnsonn)
May 13, 2013

Do not underestimate the power of a mother’s urging. Auston Anderson fully embraced his mom’s encouragement, and last week, he woke up and put her advice into motion. He committed to Northwestern.

His decision was final well before the then-mysterious message board poster – Anderson believes it was his dad who let the word out – broke the news, and Anderson’s mind was made up even earlier.

He put Northwestern on top of his list after attending the Wildcats faux-spring game in April, citing academic quality and schematic fit, and a few glamorous offers in the interim – including Texas and Arkansas – wasn’t going to shake his or his mother’s convictions.

“Academic stability is definitely what separated Northwestern,” Anderson said Saturday. “After I graduate college, all the opportunities it opens, you can’t beat that.”

If academics were the deciding factor, how does Anderson explain turning down Stanford, a program with equal-to-slightly-more-reputable academic stature?

“I just couldn’t see myself fitting in the offense,” he said. The reason he can see himself fitting in Northwestern’s offense traces back to a little handy tape-splicing work from running backs coach MacPherson, who streamed footage of Venric Mark’s 2012 gametape on top of Anderson’s to form a convenient futuristic portal to life in the Wildcats’ backfield.

The comparative potential was illuminating.

“It just made it really easy to see how I could fit in the offense,” he said.

It also helps that Pat Fitzgerald is putting together the best recruiting class of his tenure. The star rankings and unprecedented national recruiting buzz doesn’t allow for a deeper analysis of the type of magnetic effect bringing in a crop of highly-talented, highly-dedicated, handpicked prospects can have on prospective recruits.

There is a certain personal gratification involved in becoming a part of what Anderson termed a “special recruiting class.” He acknowledged the program’s growing momentum and how that affected his final decision.

“I wanted to be a part of that next wave of players that can really make an impact here,” he said. “This could be a special class.”

The benefits of signing a program-enthused prospect like Anderson don’t stop on commitment day. Now that Anderson has signed on with the Wildcats, he plans to spread the word about his future college destination. Anderson isn’t wasting any time – he’s already contacted MacPherson about two linemen from his home state (Texas) he believes should be up for consideration.

“Now that I’m part of the team, I’m going to do what I can,” he said.

Grassroots recruiting work is Anderson’s main objective for now. When he gets on campus, when he’s legally qualified to strap up and slide into Mark’s running back spot, his influence will be tangibly and numerically (yards, touchdowns, etc.) apparent.