The average star rating of the players in Northwestern's 2014 class so far is impressive. But maybe even more impressive is the schools those players have turned down to attend NU. Those names include heavyweights like Texas, Michigan and Stanford, and by our count, 56 schools have lost out on recruits to the Wildcats so far. It'd probably be overkill to list every school — it's not all that relevant that NU took Solomon Vault from East Carolina — but it's interesting to see which schools NU got multiple recruits from, and which schools were the biggest victims. Here they are, numerically.
Five recruits — Illinois, Minnesota
Four recruits — Purdue
Three recruits — Iowa, Nebraska, NC State, Western Michigan, Vanderbilt
Two recruits — Boston College, Northern Illinois, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Bowling Green, Louisville, Toledo, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Missouri
It's not much of a surprise, and it's probably to Wildcats fans' delight that Illinois has been one of the biggest victims. Half of NU's commits in 2014 have come at the expense of the Illini — Clayton Thorson, Ben Oxley, Dareian Watkins, Justin Jackson and Blake Hance. Meanwhile, none of Illinois' four commits had NU offers. It's not a surprise that the Wildcats and the Illini have crossed paths on the recruiting trail so often. After all, they're in-state foes and both recruit the Chicago area very hard. But this year, the Illini aren't putting up much of a fight. It's not surprising that Minnesota and Purdue are up there either, as both of those schools recruit the same area as NU.
But perhaps even more impressive than the recruits NU has beaten Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue for are the ones that they've beaten out Iowa and Nebraska for. Those two schools carry more weight than Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue, and the fact that NU has beaten them for three players each might signal "the times are changing" more than anything.
As we detailed earlier this week, Iowa has had a lot of success recruiting the Chicago area in recent years, and much of that success has come at NU's expense. In order for the Wildcats to become an elite program, they have to be able to beat Iowa for players on their home turf. It's too early to call the turnaround in 2014 a trend, but it's certainly a good start. Nebraska, meanwhile, carries a lot of prestige in its name, but the Wildcats are 3-0 against them so far in this recruiting season. The latest commit, Blake Hance, had a Nebraska offer, but was waiting on a Northwestern offer. Are the times a-changin? Again, it's probably too early to call this a trend, but the fact that NU has beaten Iowa and Nebraska for so many players in this class sure shows things are headed in the right direction for the Wildcats.
For more on this year's class, check out our 2014 recruiting board.