Recruiting season is in full swing, so our next series — recruiting pipeline check-ins — will focus on where Northwestern's recruits are coming in. The Wildcats have build strong pipelines from Texas, California, Ohio, New Jersey and Illinois, and we'll run through each one to let you know NU's future plans for each pipeline. First up is Texas.
The Texas pipeline — particularly to Houston — has become one of the most established and most well-known pipelines for Northwestern football. It's recruited by linebackers coach Randy Bates, who has built relationships with all of the high school coaches in the Houston area, which allows the Wildcats to get in early on players who could be future stars. Fitzgerald echoed that at Big Ten Media Days last July:
"(Randy Bates has) been recruiting down in Houston — when he leaves Chicago, he’s been down in Houston — for a number of years. He not only knows about the upcoming seniors, he knows about the upcoming juniors and he might know about a kid who is some freak and had a ridiculous freshman year that A&M, Texas, LSU and Oklahoma are going to probably offer.”
The results from Houston have been impressive so far. Star running back Venric Mark hails from that area, as did last year's star linebacker David Nwabuisi. But the rest of Texas has been kind to NU, too, and recently the Wildcats have pulled some impressive players from the Lone Star State.
Current Players from Texas
Stephen Buckley (Forney, TX), Treyvon Green (Mesquite), Will Hampton (Houston), Christian Jones (Houston), Venric Mark (Tomball), Brad North (Allen), Sean Oliver (Plano), Jayme Taylor (The Woodlands), Dwight White (Cypress), Macan Wilson (Houston)
That's quite a list of players. Mark is obviously the headliner, but Christian Jones has the potential to be one of the offense's stars, while Will Hampton is battling for a starting spot on the defensive line. Treyvon Green is a veteran at running back, while cornerback Dwight White and Stephen Buckley look like future starters — White could even start this year.
You'd be hard-pressed to find more concentrated talent from one area of the country on Northwestern's roster, and this year is a good case study of why the Wildcats are so focused on building their pipeline in Texas. The Houston pipeline is still what NU is known for — Hampton, Jones, Mark, Taylor, White and Wilson are all from that area — but Dallas has been kind to the Wildcats, too, producing Green, Buckley, Oliver and North.
2014 and Beyond
Northwestern already has two Texas commits for the class of 2014, and both have the potential to be future stars. Auston Anderson, a Plano (Dallas-area) native, is rated as a three-star running back, but had an impressive list of offers, choosing the Wildcats over Stanford, Arkansas, Nebraska and home-state Texas. He's a quick back who committed to NU in part because of the success that fellow Texan Venric Mark has had in the program.
Anderson's counterpart in the 2014 class, Jordan Thomas, is a Klein (Houston-area) native and was NU's first commitment in this class. Since he committed so early, his only other offers are from Oklahoma State and Utah, but he's a high three-star safety prospect who would have garnered more attention had he waited to commit until later in the recruiting process.
The Wildcats are just getting started in their 2015 class — we'll find our more about their 2015 targets in the fall — but the 2014 haul from Texas may not be over yet. Grant Blankenship, a three-star defensive end from The Colony (Dallas-area), is considering NU along with a number of other high-profile offers, including Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Oregon. His commitment is a bit of a longshot considering how little space is left in the 2014 class and how good his offers are, but he's definitely still in play for the Wildcats.