Last season’s Northwestern-Michigan game was an entertaining thrill ride for Jon Wassink. He has a different perspective than the scores of Wildcats fans who lamented a potential victory lost to a miraculous Roy Roundtree Hail Mary catch. Wassink is a Michigan fan, and playing for the Wolverines was one of his most vivid childhood dreams.
Now, as he starts to focus on where he will play college football, Wassink’s perspective has changed. The Wolverines remain one of his top choices, but he’s open to the possibility of playing at other schools – including Northwestern.
“The recruiting process makes you consider other schools,” Wassink said Thursday.
Earlier this year, Wildcats defensive coach Mike Hankwitz visited Wassink, a 2015 recruit, at Grand Rapids Christian High School (MI), where he supplied him with information about a camp Northwestern was hosting in June. Wassink attended, performed well in front of NU coaches and was treated to a tour of the football facilities after the workout. Wassink enjoyed the experience.
“I liked it a lot,” he said of Northwestern. “It’s a nice campus. I liked the facilities.”
One of the most obvious benefits to building a new lakefront practice facility, it has been said, is the effect it will have on recruits considering Northwestern. Wassink took notice, and while no ground has been broken on the Lake Michigan shores identified as the building’s construction site, the mere prospect of the facility being built left a strong impression.
Academics are another strong selling point for Wassink, who says he might consider studying business in college and referenced Northwestern’s graduation rate when touting the school’s scholarly reputation.
“They are a very good academic school,” he said. “That stands out, too.”
The Wildcats’ 10-3 season convinced Wassink the program is on the rise and that it can compete with the best teams in the Big Ten. Coach Pat Fitzgerald’s energy and pronounced intensity during games sticks out to Wassink, who also admires Fitzgerald’s experience playing for his alma mater.
“He seems like a really good head coach,” he said of Fitzgerald.
Listed as a “pro-style quarterback” on recruiting sites, Wassink believes he can play in a variety of offenses, including the up-tempo variants Northwestern has run under coordinator Mick McCall. Wassink says he runs a spread offense at Grand Rapids.
“With my high school team, we huddle a lot, but we run spread,” he said. “I think I can do either.”
This fall, Wassink, who has also camped at Michigan State, Michigan and Western Michigan, hopes to return to Northwestern for an unofficial visit. On a hypothetical ranking of schools, the Wildcats, he says, are “one or two.” Wassink has also had conversations with Michigan State coaches, but says the recent commitment of highly-rated quarterback Jayru Campbell has complicated his recruitment with the Spartans.
The other school he considers on the same plane as Northwestern is Michigan. Wassink’s Michigan fandom is strong, but the Wildcats have piqued his interest, and have quickly turned into one of his top choices. A second visit to campus could strengthen his affinity for Northwestern.
School: Grand Rapids Christian (MI)
Profiles: Scout, Rivals, 247
Schools with interest: Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern
Notes: says northwestern is "one or two" on his list of schools.