After a quiet period in the first half of June, Northwestern's 2014 recruiting has suddenly picked up again. The Wildcats picked up their 12th commitment for the class of 2014 on Monday, and the list of potential targets for the final three spots in this class just got a little clearer. Check out information on NU's newest commit and more recruiting tidbits below, and as always, make sure to stay updated with our 2014 recruiting board.
Hall becomes commit No. 12
Northwestern added its 12th commitment for the class of 2014 yesterday with the addition of outside linebacker Nathan Hall. Hall, the brother of current NU safety Jimmy Hall, was recently offered by Pat Fitzgerald and his staff, and he jumped on that offer quickly. This commitment also gives the Wildcats an outside linebacker — they were looking for one, but the recruitments of other OLB targets Brandon Lee and Noah Furbush are still up in the air, and they figure to remain that way for awhile.
Hall hasn't received as much hype as some of NU's other 2014 recruits, but he's an athletic player who fits the mold the Wildcats look for in their linebackers. More from our breakdown of what Hall brings to the table:
Nathan Hall is considered a wide receiver or safety by many of the recruiting services, but will play outside linebacker at NU. In that respect, he fits the Wildcats’ mold.
“We’re trying to bring in big safeties who play linebacker, and we’re trying to bring in really, really athletic safeties who play safety,” Pat Fitzgerald said this spring.
NU has a track record of switching players from safety to linebacker, most recently with Joseph Jones, who came in as a safety, redshirted last year and is expected to see time at outside linebacker this season. Nathan Hall will come in as an outside linebacker and should play there exclusively, so his path is different from his brother’s or Jones’. However, he fits the same mold as those players, and in that respect, he’s a good pickup for NU and looks like a good fit for the Wildcats’ system.
With three spots left in this class, the focus now shifts to defensive end and the secondary. Some players to watch out for: DB Ron Robinson, DB Ladarius Wiley, DB Parrker Westphal, DE Noah Westerfield, DE Grant Blankenship, DE Bobby Okereke and DE Garrett Dickerson.
NU not looking for a middle linebacker
Every recruiting class has certain positional priorities. Some years, a team will target defensive ends, quarterbacks and wide receivers. Others will amass depth at different spots.
There are few holes remaining in Northwestern’s 2014 class – every morsel of evidence, from the outsider’s perspective and based off direct intel from Northwestern’s own recruits, points to a hard cap of 15 – and few scholarship spots available, full stop. One position you can cross off the list: Middle linebacker. How can I be so sure? Well, I can’t. But unless linebackers coach Randy Bates fed 2014 Belleville, Illinois LB Tori Millender one big fat fib at Sunday’s minicamp in Evanston, it appears the Wildcats won’t be adding a middle ‘backer in this year’s recruiting cycle.
If they were, Millender believes he would have received a scholarship offer right on the spot.
“He said they weren’t recruiting middle linebackers this year,” Millender said Sunday.
It was a disappointing end to a long workout for Millender (and, most likely, an hopefully expectant recruiting relationship with NU), who currently holds offers from Purdue, Eastern Michigan and Arkansas State, and looked forward to the possibility of earning a Wildcats offer this weekend. In his mind, it was a matter of timing – not of his individual playing merits – that kept Northwestern at bay.
“It’s disappointing,” he said.
The final three spots of Northwestern’s 2014 class could be filled by any number of positions. Defensive end, defensive back and superback are apparent targets, but until we officially cross the conclusive signing day threshold, every possibility is officially on the table — besides middle linebacker.
Wiley has NU on top
We’ve gone nearly two months without hearing from 2014 DB Ladarius Wiley, and it was fair to wonder – after the convincing appraisal he gave of his recruitment with Northwestern – whether he still felt the same way. Turns out, Wiley hasn’t changed one bit, nor has Northwestern’s status as his number one school.
“Yes sir everything is still the same,” he wrote in a message last night when asked if he still viewed the Wildcats as his top choice. He also clarified when he might be on campus this summer.
“I've been trying to arrange one during our dead period which starts after next week.”
Defensive back is a position Northwestern would very much like to add to before it closes the door on its 2014 class. Three spots remain, and both Corona (CA) DB Ron Robinson and Wiley are strong candidates to become commitment No. 13 sometime over this summer.