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Who’s That Wildcat? Running back/Safety Godwin Igwebuike

by Chris Johnson (@ChrisDJohnsonn)

  • Name: Godwin Igwebuike
  • Position: Running back/Safety
  • School: Pickerington North High School (Ohio)
  • Star rating: 4-Star
  • Other offers: Boston College, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Nebraska, West Virginia, Wisconsin, NC State, others

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TohA0glMn3k

The Scouting Report

From ESPN Recruiting Nation:

“Igwebuike is talented two-way prospect who grows on you as a total football player. He shows flashes of good BCS talent on both sides of the ball and could get recruited to play running back, cornerback or safety at the college level. He has a very solid frame that is well-built but still has length for continued physical development. He's a very instinctive football player with playmaking ability.”

What he’s saying

From Scout.com:

“It’s a growing program,” he said. “Dating back to where they used to be a few years ago, they have improved every year. This year, they went 10-3, went to a great bowl game, and were one of the few Big Ten teams to win their bowl game. They keep raising the bar.”

What’s The Hype? 

Once you get past the quarterback headliner of this 2013 class, Matt Alviti, the next hottest commodity is Igwebuike. He turned down more than 15 offers from other schools, including Big Ten rivals Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan State, before committing to Northwestern in August. He’s one of only two four-star rated prospects in this class (Alviti is the other one), ranks 22nd nationally at his listed position of Safety and the craziest part is, Igwebuike might wind up switching positions.

And it is that versatility, along with a bunch of other desirable athletic traits and skills, that makes Igwebuike one of the highlights of this class. At Pickerington HS North in Ohio, Igwebuike recorded 1,985 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns while garnering AP first-team All-Ohio honors to help lead his team to a state semifinals appearance. On the other side of the ball, he registered six interceptions, one pick-six, 79 tackles and two forced fumbles. His ability to not only play but thrive on both offense and defense earned him the No. 39 spot in the “athlete” category, according to Rivals.com. Depending on where Pat Fitzgerald and his staff feel his talents fit best, and whether or not his two-way skills translate immediately to the college game, we know this: Igwebuike will arrive with as much athletic potential as any of his classmates.

What about this year? 

When assessing Igwebuike’s chances of playing this season, it’s important to analyze two positions. At safety, Northwestern has plenty of quality depth – Traveon Henry, Jimmy Hall and Davion Fleming will compete for the right to start alongside Ibraheim Campbell. At running back, All Big Ten running back Venric Mark will carry the load once more, and Mike Trumpy’s bruising style makes an excellent complement. Redshirt freshman Malin Jones may also compete for carries, especially given the way Treyvon Green dropped off last season.

There is no immediate need for Igwebuike’s services at either position, which leads me to believe Fitzgerald would prefer to redshirt him. But if Igwebuike meets or even exceeds his recruiting hype during summer workouts – if he can outplay, say, Hall and Henry at safety, or Jones at running back – then there may yet be an important spot for him this season. Using him exclusively on special teams, no matter how effective he could and probably would be, would come off as an eligibility mismanagement – when you land a recruit this talented, there’s no need to burn his redshirt for special teams duties. The bottom line is this: Igwebuike looks ready to enter the fold as a true freshman. Whether he will is a question that will go unanswered until summer workouts gauge his true value on this year’s roster.

What about the future?

Once he makes his way onto the field, whether this year or next, Igwebuike has a chance to carry the flag for the 2013 class. It will be interesting to see which position he chooses to play, and whether he can eclipse some of the younger talents at his position (Jones or Henry, for example). If I have to make a choice – my wavering must have reached a point of annoyance by now – I’ll say Igwebuike winds up at running back, and it could be as early as this season.

With both Mark and Trumpy graduating after this year, Northwestern could use an impact back to pair with Jones (who, despite his recruiting bona fides, is no sure thing, by the way). Maybe Igwebuike will start out by testing the waters on offense and defense. Maybe he’s already made up his mind. Or maybe he needs a year to figure everything out and work with coaches to find a common understanding before making a decision. The fit, however it shakes out, will be a good one. Igwebuike is a name Northwestern fans should be hearing a lot about over the next few seasons.