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Defensive Back Recruits Take Center Stage as NU's 2014 Class Winds Down

With Noah Westerfield's commitment on Monday to bring Northwestern's 2013 class to 13 players, the Wildcats have just two spots left before they move on to 2015. Westerfield's commitment was important in that NU got a defensive end, and while there are still some defensive ends and linebackers on the board — DE Bobby Okereke and OLB Brandon Lee, in particular — none of them are particularly likely to choose NU, especially since their timetables don't match up with when the Wildcats' class is likely to fill up. Now, the focus shifts to the secondary, as the final two commits could very well be cornerbacks or safeties. In particular, there are three players who look like the most likely candidates to take the last two spots — safety Ladarius Wiley, safety Adam Soesman and cornerback Parrker Westphal. If you're looking for players to watch, those three almost certainly will produce one of NU's final three commits — well, as much of a certainty as you can get in college recruiting. Here's more on where each one stands:

Ladarius Wiley — Ladarius Wiley has held Northwestern in high regard ever since he got his offer, and way back in May he called NU his No. 1 school. He also said that he could potentially commit on a summer visit to Evanston, but that visit has yet to happen. Most likely, he will visit sometime in late July or early August, so we should know a lot more then, but NU's competition for him may be getting tougher. Wiley has been hearing from Stanford, which could complicate things and drag out the process even more. He has indicated that his mom wants him to get out of California, but having Stanford as a choice can't be a good thing for NU's chances. Still, Wiley lists the Wildcats as his top choice without even having visited, so he's definitely one to keep an eye on.

Adam Soesman — Originally, safety Ron Robinson looked like the most likely player to become the newest member of NU's secondary. However, after UCLA became the frontrunner for Robinson, the Wildcats' coaches offered Soesman. Soesman quickly listed NU in his top two, along with Oregon State, but as with Wiley, the visit will likely make or break his recruitment. Expect him to visit sometime in late July or early August, and as with Wiley, we'll know a lot more then.

Parrker Westphal — Westphal is the most highly regarded of the three players listed, and for that reason, he'll also be the toughest get. He has long listed Northwestern as one of his top schools, but he also has offers from Michigan, Ohio State and Florida. However, NU could be helped by the fact that Michigan has already gotten commitments from top cornerbacks Jabrill Peppers and Brandon Watson. There is still a lot of competition for Westphal, but NU has to feel pretty good about where it stands.


Again, these aren't the only players left on the board. Okereke, Lee or possibly — though not likely — even Garrett Dickerson could become Wildcats. However, the secondary is the clear focus for Pat Fitzgerald and company for the rest of the 2014 class, and Wiley, Soesman and Westphal are the clear targets.