Two of Northwestern’s top recruiting targets in the class of 2014 are expected to be on campus this weekend for official visits. Both of them are ranked among the top 200 players in their class, according to various recruiting services, and both are believed to be at least strongly considering Northwestern. They need no introduction at this point; we’ve covered them for the better part of the past year. But as their recruitments wind down, here's a refresher on where Northwestern stands in its bid to earn their verbal commitments.
The last time Westphal visited Northwestern, the Wildcats played one of their worst games of the season. Michigan State, one of Westphal’s two other finalists, pummeled the Wildcats, 30-6. Westphal texted to WildcatReport.com’s Louie Vaccher the next day that he enjoyed his conversations with director of athletics Jim Phillips and school president Morton Schapiro – both of whom have apparently spent some time watching Westphal’s highlight tape, and possibly even seen him play in person. "I spoke with the AD and the president for quite a bit," Westphal said. "I was impressed with them mainly because they were talking about my highlight (video) and plays I made during the season that were not on my highlight. (They're) not even coaches, so that was cool."
Westphal also texted to Vaccher that he expects to make a decision “Pretty soon ha ha. That’s about all I can say.” Westphal has already visited his two other finalists, the Spartans and Vanderbilt, along with Northwestern more than once. Long considered a second or third fallback option for Westphal, Northwestern is now the favorite to land the Bolingbrook, Ill., defensive back. During his senior season, Westphal recorded 47 tackles, eight pass breakups and three interceptions; averaged 11.6 yards on punt returns; and even ripped off a few running punts. He was named the 2013 Herald-News defensive player of the year last month after No. 1-seeded Bolingbrook was upset by Marist in the second round of the Illinois class 8A playoffs.
School: Bolingbrook (IL)
Other offers: Cincinnati, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue, West Virginia
Crystal ball: 84% Northwestern
Notes: Visited NU first weekend of March; Said NU is one of his favorites
It seemed for most of this year that Northwestern was a long shot to land Dickerson. In June, when he narrowed his list of schools to three (Stanford, Michigan and Northwestern), the Cardinal was considered the clear frontrunner. Sometime this fall, the consensus shifted: not only was Northwestern in the running for Dickerson, it had a good shot at securing his verbal commitment. On November 12, the top Northwestern “predictor” on the recruiting site 247, national recruiting reporter Steve Wiltfong, predicted Dickerson would pick Northwestern. In fact, every prediction for Dickerson since November 12 has been that he would choose the Wildcats. Dickerson is a more highly regarded prospect than Westphal; He ranks 114th on 247’s composite player rankings (Westphal is 173rd).
With Michigan now out of the picture, Northwestern is one of Dickerson’s two finalists. The Wildcats are recruiting him as a defensive end, while Stanford is thought to be pursuing him as an outside linebacker. Dickerson played on both sides of the ball at Bergen Catholic High School (Oradell, NJ), leading the Crusaders with 25 receptions and 376 receiving yards while recording 32 total tackles and five tackles for loss. The fact his brother, Cameron, is a Northwestern wide receiver may seem an advantage for the Wildcats – though Garrett says his brother hasn’t tried to influence his decision. Instead, a different Cameron, Bergen Catholic teammate and 2014 Northwestern commit Cameron Queiro, has been recruiting Dickerson.
School: Bergen Catholic (NJ)
Other offers: Alabama, Arizona, Boston College, UConn, Florida State, Maryland, Michigan, NC State, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, Toledo, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin
Crystal ball: 25% Northwestern
Notes: Has NU third in his final three, with notes on it from ESPN (subscriber only); Would be a tough get considering other offers, but his brother, Cameron, is currently a wide receiver at NU; Has good relationship with NU coaches and being “recruited” by 2014 commit Cameron Queiro