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NU Football Recruiting Pipeline Check-In: New Jersey

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. Next up is New Jersey.

Overview

Unlike the Texas pipeline, Northwestern isn't completely settled into New Jersey yet. The Wildcats have always gotten some New Jersey players, but they haven't recruited the state as hard as they are right now, and the trend of doing more and more in the Garden State will likely continue with the addition of Rutgers into the Big Ten. In fact, a number of Big Ten teams will be finding their way into New Jersey now — Ohio State and Penn State have always been a threat for the best players there, but teams like Iowa, for example, have become competition in recent years and will continue to be once Rutgers moves into the Big Ten.

So yes, NU is going to have a lot of competition in New Jersey from the Big Ten and elsewhere, but the Wildcats have done a good job building relationships with coaches in the state. One school that stands out is Bergen Catholic, which has now given NU three players in the past few years, and could possibly end up sending the Wildcats a fourth. The Bergen Catholic-to-Evanston pipeline is what has really gotten people to notice NU's pipeline to New Jersey. It's a school with a lot of talent, and NU's relationship with the coaches there will be big in the future.

Current Players from New Jersey

Cameron Dickerson (Englewood, NJ), Shane Mertz (Hazlet), Brandon Vitabile (Edison), Kyle Queiro (Oradell)

As mentioned above, the list of Texas players dwarfs the list of players from New Jersey. However, the number of Garden State players has increased in recent years and it should continue to increase as NU's presence and relationships in the state grow. The current New Jersey players on the roster are all solid players. Queiro will be a freshman in the fall, but the other three have star potential.

Vitabile is an established veteran and he should be a semifinalist or finalist for the Rimington Award, given to the nation's best center. Mertz — the S.S. Mertz, as Pat Fitzgerald likes to call him — is fighting for a spot at right tackle and has the size to potentially be a star on either side of the line. Dickerson is a potential breakout candidate in 2013. He's a big receiver who has a knack for making big catches. If all three of those guys become integral parts of the team — they should — it will definitely be a good selling point to future New Jersey prospects.

2014 and Beyond

Cameron Queiro — an outside linebacker an brother of 2013 commit Kyle Queiro — continues the Bergen Catholic-to-Northwestern pipeline as the only New Jersey player for NU in the class of 2014. However, the Wildcats are still in the mix for another top Bergen Catholic player: Garrett Dickerson. Dickerson has NU ranked third in his top three behind Stanford and Michigan, respectively, so he's a longshot, but there's still a chance he ends up in Evanston.

It's too early to tell which New Jersey prospects the Wildcats are targeting in 2015. We'll learn more about that in the fall. However, it's clear that New Jersey has become an underrated recruiting ground for NU, and considering the success Fitzgerald and company have had recruiting the state, don't expect this pipeline to go away any time soon.