Northwestern picked up its latest commitment for the class of 2014 — its 12th for this class — from a familiar family. Nathan Hall, an outside linebacker from Ohio and the brother of current Wildcat Jimmy Hall, chose NU over Pittsburgh and a slew of MAC schools. Similar to his brother, he’s a versatile player who gives the Wildcats their first, and likely only, outside linebacker in this class. For more on the 2014 class, be sure to check out our 2014 recruiting board.
What’s the Hype?
For a class that has had a considerable amount of hype — the most of any class in Northwestern history — Nathan Hall doesn’t have the high school accolades of many of his future teammates. However, high school accolades don’t necessarily turn into success on the college field, and as the Wildcats know well, a lack of such accolades doesn’t mean anything once players get on campus.
Most importantly, Hall’s commitment means NU finally has its outside linebacker. The Wildcats had been in the running for a few linebackers, but had stiff competition for them all. They didn’t make the top five for Jimmy Swain and they were competing with schools like Oregon and Michigan for Brandon Lee and Noah Furbush — not that NU can’t compete with those schools, but obviously that makes it tougher. This time around, the Wildcats got their target, and now the focus shifts more to the secondary and the defensive line.
Where He Fits In
I always start with this precursor, but in no way are we trying to predict when Hall will see the field. Considering he’s over a year away from his freshman season, not even the coaches know that. However, Hall fits the mold of the kind of player Pat Fitzgerald likes to recruit, just like his brother. In fact, Hall is a lot like his brother.
Jimmy Hall was recruited as a wide receiver, but he switched to safety at NU. He’s a big safety, so now he serves in a hybrid role, where he has seen time at outside linebacker, nickelback and safety. He switched to that role at the end of last season, and plays outside linebacker when the Wildcats want him to play one-one-one against a quick receiver.
“They had me one-on-one a lot against (receiver Chad Bumphis), so they wanted to get a quicker guy on him, but still have the same tackling ability out on the field,” he said this spring.
Nathan Hall is considered a wide receiver or safety by many of the recruiting services, but will play outside linebacker at NU. In that respect, he fits the Wildcats’ mold.
“We’re trying to bring in big safeties who play linebacker, and we’re trying to bring in really, really athletic safeties who play safety,” Pat Fitzgerald said this spring.
NU has a track record of switching players from safety to linebacker, most recently with Joseph Jones, who came in as a safety, redshirted last year and is expected to see time at outside linebacker this season. Nathan Hall will come in as an outside linebacker and should play there exclusively, so his path is different from his brother’s or Jones’. However, he fits the same mold as those players, and in that respect, he’s a good pickup for NU and looks like a good fit for the Wildcats’ system.