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NU Football Recruiting Update: June 12

Things have been relatively quite on the 2014 recruiting front recently — it should pick up again at the end of June and in early July — but with camp season under way, the 2015 recruiting picture is starting to come into view. Check out our latest news nuggets from both classes.

2015 Recruiting Board

If you read our site regularly, you've surely seen our 2014 football recruiting board by now. With camp season starting up for the class of 2015, we've decided to premier our 2015 board, with an early look at some players to watch over the next year. Northwestern hasn't extended many scholarship offers, and the Wildcats' coaches are still very much in the evaluation stage for this class. However, we thought it would be good to give you an idea of some of NU's targets for the upcoming class. Please note that the board will change very quickly as more recruits come into the picture. Since NU's net for the 2015 class is cast so wide right now, it's entirely possible we missed someone. If you have a tip or think someone should be added to the board, send us an email at insidenu@gmail.com.

Okereke Hopes to Check Out NU

Northwestern is still in the market for a defensive end, and the Wildcats could end up getting one in Bobby Okereke. Okereke is an academic-minded player — he has a 4.47 GPA — who is quickly gaining momentum. On Monday, he picked up offers from USC and Oregon, adding to a list that already included Boise State, Cal, Washington, Arizona State and Vanderbilt, among others. Still, he hopes to evaluate everything on June 20, then visit Evanston. He also has an interesting story regarding his NU recruitment:

(Okereke's father) knew the Wildcats’ academic reputation and rising football program was a combination Bobby might consider in his college search, but he might not have expected the simple NU football recruiting questionnaire – available on NU’sofficial athletic department website – to lead to a prompt response, high school visits from two Wildcats coaches (defensive backs coach Jerry Brown and defensive line coach Marty Long) and a scholarship offer from Pat Fitzgerald. 

None of the recruiting questionnaires Okereke’s father sent to various other schools elicited a serious response.

“Northwestern was the only one that answered,” Okereke said Sunday.

Watkins attends NFTC

As Northwestern gets more top-flight recruits, more and more of them will be invited to prestigious camps around the country. Two future Wildcats were at camps recently — Dareian Watkins at the Nike Football Training Camp and Clayton Thorson at the Nike Elite 11 Camp. We caught up with Watkins to discuss his experience.

“It just felt great to be there, knowing I was being recognized as one of the top recruits in the country,” Watkins said. “I was honored to be able to showcase my skills against some of the best. I felt like I performed well."

However, as expected at a big camp with so many star athletes, there were ups and downs.

At first, Watkins couldn’t hide his disappointment. In three-on-three workouts, paired with Elite 11 MVP and top-five pocket-passer QB Drew Barker, Watkins only had one pass thrown his way. It was well-covered, and the session ended with without Watkins getting a fair chance to show off his great hands and elite athleticism – an unfairly shunned but highly talented player disadvantaged more by his surroundings than his own individual performance. He was discouraged, but motivated to make amends in subsequent drills.

“It was pretty frustrating,” he said.

In one-on-one drills, Watkins said his performance improved greatly, even as he labored to shake off a balky angle. Scout Midwest recruiting analyst Allen Trieu was in Columbus Sunday and doesn’t recall Watkins dropping a single pass. Watkins himself was also pleased with how he performed in the throes of man-to-man DB-WR showdowns.

“I definitely thought I showed better in the one-on-ones,” he said. “I was able to show what I can do.”

Watkins also got to meet up with Thorson and his family in Columbus:

The drive from Galion, Ohio, to Northwestern ranges between six and seven hours, according to Watkins, but if he ever wants to leave campus for a weekend, he now has the option of taking the short trip to Thorson’s nearby Wheaton, Illinois, residence for a home-cooked meal.

“His family was really nice, really comforting,” he said. “It’s always nice to be able to have a somewhere to go if you want to get away for a little bit, and they said they would be happy to have me on weekends.”