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Who's That Wildcat? C/OG Brad North

Name: Brad North
Position: Center, Offensive guard
School: Allen High School
Other offers: Boise State, Colorado State, Nevada, San Diego State, Wake Forest, Washington State, others.

The Scouting Report

From ESPN Recruiting Nation:

North is very effective playing the offensive tackle position; displays good quickness and playing strength when run and pass blocking. However we feel his size and athleticism are better suited for the guard spot at the major level of competition. His frame appears capable of handling additional body mass over time. Playing out of a two point stance, we see the flexibility, balance and agility needed to play on his feet in space; does a very good job reacting to tight box movement.

What he’s saying

From Rivals. com:

"It was a great school. I think it's a great school for me academically, athletically and socially. I got along really well with the players, the people there in general and the coaches - they all treated me very well. I just felt like I fit in there."

What’s the hype?

Over the past two seasons, a Northwestern quarterback has approached the line of scrimmage, communicated any last-second adjustments and barked a play into action with the greatest of luxuries. The center position has been rock solid as humanly possible, with Brandon Vitabile holding down the O-line’s central position for the last two seasons. And Vitabile hasn’t just started the last 26 games at center, he’s drawing national recognition for his stability and consistently high-level play. Entering this season, Vitabile was named to the preseason watch list for the Rimington award, presented annually to the nation’s best center.

Enjoy Vitabile while he’s still here, because in two seasons Northwestern will need to replace one of its most casually underrated players of the past two seasons. But I have to say, the potential replacement making his way up the turnpike, Brad North, isn’t too shabby. North was one of the most highly-touted center prospects in 2013 no matter what general recruiting site you use to shape your evaluative judgments. Scout had him at No. 13; Rivals bumped him up to No. 9. North earned second-team All-State Honors in 2012 while leading Allen High School to a 5A Division I state championship, and his work in scouting camps – including the MVP award he won at a Nike training camp for elite prospects – measured up just as impressively. North has everything you’d want from a prospective college interior lineman – high praise across the board from objective recruiting analysts, glowing scouting reports and pronounced success at one specific position.

What about next year? 

It is no negative assessment on North’s talent or potential to say that his chances of playing this season are almost nonexistent. Facts are facts, and the facts say Northwestern has an abundance of game-ready lineman to fill the two-deep and beyond for 2013. This is a young group that continues to get better with each recruiting class, and North is a strong part of that young base, even if he’s probably (almost definitely) a year away from actually seeing the field.

What about the future?

Finding a position with more stability right now than Vitabile at center is a task in subjective and arguably unconvincing roster investigation. No one is unseating Vitabile over the next two seasons. In fact, call me ambitious or misinformed or overzealous or whatever, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume Vitabile could find himself on the All-Big Ten team next season. He really is that good and that rock-solid, at a position that demands consistency and error-free execution.

It is an impossibly high standard to meet, but North could very well be the next in line. 2012 signee Ian Park is a redshirt freshman with promise, and he looks like the top candidate to secure the backup center spot this season. North could be forced into one of the guard spots down the line, where other young risers like Adam DePietro have just as strong a claim to their respective positions, but his familiarity at center, and the realized success garnered at that position makes you think Northwestern would prefer to place him at his most comfortable position. Whether he ends up at guard or center, North is a proven trench warrior with a bright future on Northwestern’s line.