The addition of 2014 OT Tommy Doles two weeks ago offered the promise of an agile pass-protector and powerful run blocker to an emerging pool of O-line talent. Another athletic tackle could soon join Doles and the swath of young linemen competing to become a part of the Wildcats’ next generation of trench stalwarts: Blake Hance.
It required four visits from Hance, and one from superbacks coach Bob Heffner and offensive line coach Adam Cushing to a high school workout before Northwestern extended an offer. When it finally did Tuesday night, Blance was elated.
“It felt great to know I’m high on their list,” he said Wednesday. “I’ve been wanting that for a long time.”
The Wildcats’ desires to land two hyper-mobile tackles in the 2014 class aside, there will be stiff competition for Hance’s services. With 13 offers already in the books, and an open mindset over the next few months – “I’m just going to keep surveying my options. Hopefully I can get a few more offers,” he said – the Wildcats might find Hance, who has also visited Illinois and Missouri multiple times during his recruitment, is out of their reach.
Four schools are recruiting Hance as a tight end, but the Wildcats would use his quick hands and athletic talents to pass-protect, open up running lanes and get into the second level for downfield blocks. For his part, Hance doesn't see position choice as a huge element of his decision-making process.
"It's not a big factor," he said.
The academic reputation of Northwestern, along with his strong relationships with coaches is Hance’s biggest attraction.
“The academics are really key,” he said. “I feel like I have pretty strong relationships with the coaches.”
The only timeline Hance has for a decision is a vague preference to finish his recruitment before the start of his senior season. Beyond that, Hance is all ears. He hopes to make a return visit to Evanston sometime over the summer and, even if he has no established list of top schools, Hance says he plans to look at the Wildcats more seriously after receiving an offer.
“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “I learned something new every time I went there, so yeah, it’s exciting.”
Of Northwestern's nine 2014 commitments, two (Clayton Thorson and Justin Jackson) are from Illinois. Hance resides in Jacksonville, Ill.