Northwestern's recruiting picture for 2014 defensive backs just keeps getting less and less clear. Note: Less clear, not necessarily worse.
Just a few days ago, we learned that Ron Robinson, a presumed NU commit, received an offer from UCLA and now has the Bruins at the top of his list (subscriber only). That meant the focus shifted to Ladarius Wiley, who has the Wildcats listed as his top choice, and Parrker Westphal, who considers NU one of his favorites but is also considering Michigan, Ohio State and Florida, among others. Now, a new name enters the picture.
Pat Fitzgerald offered a scholarship to safety Adam Soesman yesterday, just days after telling Soesman that they had to wait for another recruit (likely Robinson) who they thought could commit. That player didn't commit, so now Soesman has an offer, and he ranks NU in his top two, along with Oregon State. That makes the recruiting picture a little unclear, so we'll run through where the Wildcats stand with each defensive back they've offered:
Ron Robinson: As we mentioned above, there are a number of indicators that make it seem likely Robinson won't end up at NU. The most obvious is that he lists UCLA ahead of the Wildcats, but it appears the NU coaches also don't believe Robinson will commit anymore — at least, that a commitment is not imminent — since they gave the offer to Soesman.
Ladarius Wiley: We've projected that Wiley could commit to NU for awhile now — he indicated that he could on his visit, which will take place in July — and not much has changed. He still considers NU his top school, but he's also receiving interest from some other schools out west, so there's the potential for that to complicate things. Still, he's as good a bet as any 2014 defensive back to end up in Evanston.
Parrker Westphal: Westphal is a mystery. He hasn't come out with an official "top X" yet, but he lists NU as one of his top schools. Michigan, Florida and Ohio State are all projected to be in that same group. He's been on campus several times and would be a huge steal for the Wildcats. He said he plans to commit before his senior season, so if he sticks to that, we'll probably know his plans by late August.
Adam Soesman: As we mentioned above, Soesman has NU in his top two. He's getting more interest from UCLA and Stanford, so that could potentially muddy the picture again for the Wildcats, but he's planning on visiting in late July or early August, so we'll know a lot more then.
Remember, NU only has three spots left in this class, so the changing defensive backs picture isn't a big deal. The Wildcats are likely to get at least one of these players — two is very possible, as well — and they still are in strong favor with a number of solid defensive end prospects. What this really does is move back the timetable for NU's recruiting season, at least by a month.
Originally, it looked like the Wildcats could be done with their 2014 class by mid July. Robinson looked likely to commit in June, while there was the possibility of securing a commitment from defensive end Noah Westerfield, who visits in early July. Wiley had initially planned to visit in late June or early July, but that visit looks like it could be postponed. Now it looks like the class could end up wrapping up in August. It's hard to tell which of the defensive backs will end up in Evanston, but the field is definitely a lot more open than it was just a week ago.