Northwestern picked up a commitment on Thursday from 2014 athlete Solomon Vault, a three-star recruit who visited campus last weekend and had called NU his favorite school. He has an impressive list of offers, and picked one up form Nebraska this week, but that didn't change his outlook on the Wildcats, as he committed via his Twitter account:
That means it's time for the next assessment in our "Take a Seat" series to take a better look at Vault and what it means for NU. As always, check out our recruiting board for more on this year's recruiting class.
Name: Solomon Vault
School: Gaithersburg (MD)
Position: WR, ATH
Other offers: East Carolina, Marshall, UMass, Minnesota, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Tennessee, Western Michigan
Profiles: Scout, Rivals, ESPN
What's The Hype?
Vault is a three-star prospect, but he has definitely been gaining momentum. I always like to base recruiting projections on offers rather than stars, because while these projections are inherently guesswork, I'd like to think college coaching staffs are better at evaluating prospects than you and I or other recruiting sites. In the "other offers" category, Vault certainly turns some eyebrows, and he arguably has the best group of offers of any NU recruit in this class, though it's close between him and quarterback Clayton Thorson. Vault already had offers from Tennessee and Pitt, but what's more impressive for NU is that he picked the Wildcats just days after getting an offer from Nebraska.
Vault is technically classified as an "athlete," which basically means he's a versatile player who can play a number of different positions, but most schools wanted him as a running back — Rutgers wanted him at cornerback. NU wants him as a slot receiver, which makes sense considering the running back depth that the Wildcats have built up. Vault runs a 4.47 40-yard dash, and while I'm always skeptical of high school 40 times, it's clear that he's a small, quick guy who would have fit the mold of Venric Mark or Stephen Buckley. It's tough to compare him to any of the current wide receivers, but he's an athletic, versatile player who will be an asset to have on the offense.
Where Does He Fit In?
Vault said that during his visit to Northwestern, he met with wide receivers coach Dennis Springer, who compared him to former NU receiver Jeremy Ebert. That's high praise, as Ebert was one of NU's best players in recent history, and it gives you an idea of what the Wildcats got in Vault: a talented, speedy player who has the ability to make big plays. It's too early to figure out exactly what Vault's role will be, but he can do a lot more than just catch the ball, which could be an asset down the line.
Pat Fitzgerald said when he and offensive coordinator Mick McCall consider how the offense will look each year, they always try to play to the strengths of their best players. Vault will technically be a receiver, but considering how little Fitzgerald hesitates to switch players' positions, I wouldn't be surprised if Vault ends up taking on a hybrid role. I don't see him being just a running back — at least not initially — but he could definitely run the ball at times, possibly on sweep plays, like Mark did when he was a receiver. Vault has the ability to break big plays in both the running and the passing games — there's also potential for him in the recurn game — and that makes him very valuable to the offense.
We've spent some time talking about Vault's ability as a rusher, but he's coming in as a receiver, after all, and will have ample opportunities to be successful there. When you consider the kinds of quarterbacks NU will have in the near future — Trevor Siemian during Vault's true freshman year, then Matt Alviti and Clayton Thorson — the Wildcats will likely pass the ball more than they did last year, or plan to in 2013. When you combine the quarterbacks' passing abilities with Vault's speed and big-play ability, NU could certainly have a formidable passing attack in the years to come. Vault's abilities as a small, quick receiver also complement some of the bigger veterans — Cameron Dickerson, Christian Jones and Kyle Prater, to name a few — that NU will have on its receiving corps when he gets to campus. Obviously, it's too early to say what exactly Vault's role will be, or how early he'll play, but he's a talented player who is capable of doing a lot of different things on the offense, and that bodes well for him to become a significant player on the offense down the road.