It's been quite the week in Northwestern recruiting. We break down the whole week, football and basketball included, starting with football commit Noah Westerfield. As always, check out our 2014 football and basketball boards for more information.
Northwestern picked up its 13th commitment for the 2014 class from defensive end Noah Westerfield on Monday. Westerfield had help the Wildcats in high regard throughout his recruitment, but a visit to Evanston sealed the deal. A lot of schools were recruiting him at outside linebacker, and he initially wanted to play there, but he was assured by Pat Fitzgerald that he will get the chance to rush the passer and drop back into coverage at defensive end, so he was satisfied with his situation at NU. To get there, he'll certainly have to add weight to his 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame, but his athleticism should be an asset:
One of his main goals – besides continuing to refine his pass-rushing skills, playing out his final season of high school football in winning fashion, and becoming a more “explosive player – is gaining weight. Westerfield stands 6-foot-3, 215 pounds. By preseason camp next summer, he hopes to have added at least 20 pounds.
“It’s a process,” he said. “But I think I’ll get there.”
And Westerfield is certainly ready to leave his mark on NU already.
“It’s a big thing. We’re going to make history. We’re going to get the job done."
With just two spots left in this class, the race is on among several potential NU targets. While there is still the potential to sign defensive end Bobby Okereke or outside linebacker Brandon Lee, the focus will overwhelmingly shift to the defensive backfield, where there are three recruits to watch in particular.
Ladarius Wiley, Adam Soesman and Parrker Westphal all list NU among their top few schools, and with Wiley and Soesman coming to campus in late July or early August — Westphal has already been many times — we should learn a lot more soon.
Offer coming for 2014 center/power forward?
The July evaluation period is just getting under way, meaning coaches will be out in full force at AAU tournaments over the next couple weeks. It also means we'll see some new NU offers extended. One player to watch is center/power forward Gavin Skelly of Westlake, Ohio. Northwestern's coaches will be at two of his AAU tournaments in July, then decide whether to extend an offer.
Right now, Skelly holds offers from a number of mid-majors, but interest from Big Ten schools is picking up. He plans on narrowing things down soon, and he holds NU in high regard. He's also the anti-Luka Mirkovich, in terms of playing style:
That’s because Skelly, when he joins the college ranks, expects to attack and defend from a variety of spots on the court. The traditional rigidity of a center’s positional conventions (the back-to-the-basket, paint-restricted, plodding big man) doesn’t apply.
“(Collins) said I could be used in a lot of different ways,” Skelly said. “For me, it depends on the game situation. I prefer to be able to score from different spots.”
Cunningham still in evaluation stage
The commitment of Vic Law got a lot of Northwestern fans wondering about other Chicago targets — here's a breakdown of three to watch — including Josh Cunningham. Cunningham has already gotten a lot of attention and that figures to increase this July. He's a top NU target for this class, and while he likes the Wildcats, he's not in any position to say where they stand among the rest. However, Law's commitment certainly caught his eye:
“It shows they can get great players,” he said. “That they can do a pretty good job with their recruiting.”
In a month’s time, Cunningham may be forced to rethink the relative standing of every last offer already on deck. A number of high-major programs are showing interest, and with a few strong performances in July, his already long offer sheet – which includes Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Virginia Tech, St. John’s and Northwestern – could grow immensely.
“I’ll slice it down in August, after our last couple of tournaments,” he said.
Bartley still high on NU
Like Cunningham, point guard Marcus Bartley was also impressed by Law's commitment:
“It shows the program is definitely heading in the right direction,” he said Friday. “He’s a great player, and he bought into the program. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
Bartley could be the next player to join Law. He's held NU in high regard for quite some time, and he continues to do so:
The next step for Bartley comes in August, when he plans to sit down, reevaluate his offers (including any new ones that may, and probably will, surface), chop down his list of schools and map out some visits. Nothing about that list is a guarantee…except one thing: Northwestern will be on it, no matter what.
“I can guarantee it,” he said. “Northwestern will be on there.”
Boudreaux intrigued by NU
Evan Boudreaux's recruitment still has a long ways to go. The power forward from Lake Forest will only be a junior this fall, but he's already drawing plenty of interest. He holds offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Boston College, Saint Louis and DePaul in addition to Northwestern, and plenty of other schools — Michigan and Wisconsin included — should be added to that list by the time his recruitment is finished.
Even though he isn't close to deciding on a school, Boudreaux likes what he's seen from Chris Collins:
“A lot of the recruits are realizing it’s a special place in terms of athletics and academics,” Boudreaux said Thursday. “Coach Collins is working hard to build his own program. A lot of people respect him and I think he’s proving he can recruit the high-caliber guys.”
Boudreaux noted that the idea of "Chicago's Big Ten Team" has some appeal:
“It would be big to the community,” he said. “They’ve been trying to sell me on that. Obviously, it’s intriguing.”
He'll be back on campus this fall. Hopefully for NU, it goes better than the last game he attended:
His visit last year, which coincided with Northwestern’s nonconference evisceration against Maryland, left a bad impression.
“That wasn’t good,” he said.