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 California.
The California pipeline isn't Northwestern's biggest pipeline, but it's the most position-concentrated. The state has long been a stronghold for NU's secondary recruiting, since defensive backs coach Jerry Brown is in charge of recruiting there. Of course, the Wildcats get a number of other players from the Golden State, as well, and it has become one of their most underrated recruiting grounds considering how many Californians have come to Evanston.
I saw a good point on Twitter the other day that Big Ten teams need to tap into the California talent pool more for a number of reasons. 1) There are more bowl games in Pac-12 territory now, 2) There's a ton of talent in the state, and 3) California kids have shown a willingness to travel for college — one NU target, Ladarius Wiley, said his mother would actually prefer that he leaves California. NU and Nebraska are the only two Big Ten schools that have done a good job of taking advantage of that talent base so far.
Current Players from California
Terrance Brown (Los Alamitos, Calif.), Austin Carr (Benicia), Davion Fleming (Upland), Mike Jensen (Rancho Santa Fe), Sean McEvilly (Yorba Linda), Jack Mitchell (San Diego), Jordan Perkins (Lodi), Christian Salem (Santa Monica), Warren Long (Union City), Xavier Menifield (Chatsworth), Brett Walsh (Monrovia)
When you think of NU football pipelines, you think of Illinois, Ohio and Texas. However, the California pipeline has quietly become one of the Wildcats' biggest. 11 current players hail from the Golden State, and many of them figure to make a major impact this season and in the future.
The biggest current star of the bunch will likely be McEvilly. McEvilly's play is reminiscent of the nature of the pipeline itself — not acknowledged that much, but vastly underrated. He's the most experienced returning defensive tackle and he'll be tasked with holding up the interior defensive line, which was also underrated last season. Davion Fleming will see time in a reserve role at safety, but he's started before and should be a reliable backup, while Mike Jensen was labeled the spring MVP on a few occasions by Pat Fitzgerald, and he figures to play a much bigger role in the offense than he did last year. This year's three California recruits — Warren Long, Xavier Menifield and Brett Walsh — are all talented players with unique skill sets, and they could all become impact players down the road.
2014 and Beyond
Northwestern only has three spots left in its 2014 recruiting class, but due to the uncertainty surrounding those last three spots, the Wildcats have a lot of offers out still, particularly in California. Right now, there are no Californians in the class of 2014, but that could change soon.
Originally, common belief was that California native and safety Ron Robinson would commit to NU, but now he reportedly has UCLA listed as his top school. In response to that unexpected twist, the Wildcats offered safety Adam Soesman, another California native who has NU in his top two along with Oregon State. Wiley, another safety, also has the Wildcats high up on his list, as does defensive end recruit Bobby Okereke. It's hard to tell who will take the last few spots in NU's 2014 recruiting class, but it's a good bet that at least one of them will be a Californian.