His pile of offers stacked new additions month after month, and Northwestern appeared to be falling off Parrker Westphal’s radar. After seeing the Wildcats undergo one of the most impressive one-year leaps across college football, the four-star cornerback from Bolingbrook, Ill., sounds like he’s reconsidering the Wildcats as one of his top schools.
“One of my favorites,” Westphal said of Northwestern, without specifically defining a numbered list of top schools. Westphal is in possession of more than 20 offers from BCS programs, among them Florida, Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Ole Miss.
Near the tail end of his sophomore year of high school, before Westphal had emerged as one of the best defensive back prospects in his class, Pat Fitzgerald sought Westphal’s attention and emphasized meeting him face-to-face. When that meeting occurred, Northwestern offered and Westphal has since remained in contact.
“Me and coach Fitz talk probably every two weeks or so,” he said. Defensive backs coach Jerry Brown reaches out to Westphal more frequently. “Every other day, I’d say.”
Academic reputation is Northwestern’s biggest trump card in Westphal’s scale of recruiting preference. The program’s 10-win season, and a 2014 recruiting class many are calling the best in program history, a group Westphal dutifully noted “already have 10 commitments,” is not far off on Westphal’s checklist.
“They have 10 commits so far, they won 10 games last year,” he said. “Coach Fitz has them on the right track, definitely.”
Of his three visits to Evanston, Westphal cited his overnight stay with sophomore cornerback Nick VanHoose in March as his most memorably enjoyable. Westphal talked about the scenic Lake Michigan vistas and the program’s new lakefront athletics complex.
The campus itself – its quaint architectural and natural charm – are more important than the school's location. “Distance doesn’t really matter,” he said. Westphal has a far more football-centric criterium in mind: winning.
“I just want to go to a school that’s ready to win,” he said.
Well, does Northwestern classify?
“Yeah, for sure. They’re on the rise,” he said.
No specific decision timeline will box Parker into a hasty decision. He prefers to finalize his college choice before his senior season, so he can “focus on winning a state championship".
A visit to Northwestern could happen in the interim. Westphal’s interest in the Wildcats is growing, and as the summer rolls on, he may find a fourth visit to campus is too tempting to resist.
School: Bolingbrook (IL)
Other offers: Cincinnati, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue, West Virginia
Profiles: Scout, Rivals, ESPN
Notes: Visited NU first weekend of March; Obviously stiff competition for NU, but we’ll keep him as a possibility since NU got him to visit and he enjoyed his time in Evanston