It's been a long time since we've done a recruiting update, mainly because very little has happened. Noah Westerfield committed to Northwestern exactly a month ago, and there hasn't been much news since. However, a number of NU targets are coming close to choosing their schools, so we'll run through the possibilities for the three remaining spots in the class of 2014, as well as give you some updates on 2015 recruits. As always, be sure to check out our 2014 recruiting board for more details on who to watch out for.
Lee picking out officials
Four-star linebacker Brandon Lee has already been to Northwestern, but now he's putting together official visits for his top five schools, which include NU, Cal, Oregon, Virginia Tech and Louisville. The Cal visit happens to coincide with NU's trip to Berkeley, meaning he'll get an up-close look at the Wildcats 2,000 miles away. Don't expect Lee to decide any time soon, but definitely look for more updates once he takes his official visits.
Okereke deciding soon
NU is still technically in the running for defensive end Bobby Okereke, and he'll decide on August 10. However, the Wildcats appear to be longshots for his commitment.
The secondary trio
Former NU safety prospect Ron Robinson committed to UCLA, meaning the three defensive backs to watch are now Ladarius Wiley, Adam Soesman and Parrker Westphal. Wiley lists NU as his top school, while Soesman says his top two are Oregon State and NU. Both of them should visit in August. Westphal has already been to Evanston many times and lists NU as one of his favorites. It's unclear when he'll commit, but he had initially said he'd like to do it before his senior season, which begins in late August. Keep an eye on all three of these guys — there's a pretty good chance at least one of them becomes a Wildcat.
Worthman says NU is No. 1
2015 ATH/QB Arion Worthman still has a long ways to go in his recruiting process — he doesn't have any offers yet — but after an early glance, he says NU is his top school. Worthman came to Evanston for a camp and said that experience went well:
Worthman has attended three camps this summer: one at Illinois State’s campus, one hosted by Illinois in Chicago and the June Chicagoland Showcase on NU’s Evanston grounds. He worked out at quarterback and received positive feedback from Northwestern offensive coordinator Mick McCall and wide receivers coach Dennis Springer.
“They said I threw well,” he said.
It's still unknown what position Worthman will play in college. He worked out at quarterback at NU, but he may be too small to play quarterback at the high Division I level. That's not a problem, he said:
Quarterback is Worthman’s preferred position, but if given the choice between playing QB in a smaller conference, and playing a different position in the Big Ten, Worthman is almost certain he’d opt for the brighter lights of major conference football.
“I like playing quarterback, but I love playing football more,” he said. “I’d probably go with the bigger conference.”
Murphy likes NU
If you're looking for NU's next big-name recruit, getting acquainted with Alec Murphy might be a good place to start. The 2015 running back is receiving interest from Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame and others, but he's already visited Evanston four times and likes what the Wildcats have to offer:
The general momentum of the program, coming off a 10-win season and its first bowl win in more than six decades, is another data point in a growing list of positive checkmarks. Murphy doesn’t need stats to validate that sentiment; his experience touring facilities and meeting players on campus was proof enough that the Wildcats are not only winning football games, but developing culture necessary to become a sustained winner several years down the road.
“I can just tell,” he said. “Just by stepping into the locker room, what they’ve done and what they’re going to do. They have lots of momentum and lots of positive energy. That’s one big thing I look for.”
Murphy has actually worked on specific drills — mainly pass-catching related — that NU gave him, and he hopes those drills make him a better prospect. The Wildcats also gave him another suggestion:
One interesting note from Murphy’s last visit was the idea that NU coaches instructed Murphy to train both as a linebacker and a running back. They want him to be flexible enough to play on either side of the ball, according to Murphy. This order could merely be to ascertain Murphy’s best positional fit, or perhaps the Wildcats genuinely do envision a future where Murphy lines up on offense and defense. The former seems more likely.
NU chasing No. 1 overall recruit
This spring, we wrote about 2015 recruit Jashon Cornell's visit to Evanston. Just recently, Cornell was ranked the No. 1 overall recruit in the country by ESPN. It's not often that the Wildcats get the top overall recruit on campus — granted, it's not often that recruit is from the Midwest — and while NU will have a tough battle on its hands, Cornell had some good things to say about his visit. A sampling of quotes:
“Academics is really important to me,” he said. “I’m planning on majoring in business and law, and I can definitely do that here.”
“Being in downtown Chicago would be great,” he said. “It’s one of the top cities in the country. The campus is really nice, too.”
Specifically, Cornell raved about the possibility of embarking on an internship in Chicago after his sophomore season, where a personal mentor would guide him through a trial at a business firm in the city. He frequently cited Chicago, and all its employment and diversionary opportunities, as one of the most attractive features of Northwestern – how it would allow him to pursue his academic goals while enjoying the benefits of a big city lifestyle.
And of course:
“I really liked the jerseys."
It's far too early to tell whether Cornell will end up in Evanston, and as we mentioned, the Wildcats will have plenty of competition. However, the fact that the top overall recruit in the country had such good things to say about NU has to make Pat Fitzgerald happy.