By modern recruiting standards, waiting until your senior season in high school to verbally commit is considered a late decision. The cycle has trended earlier in recent years, as programs have begun to identify prospects as underclassmen. Michigan, for instance, has already locked up six players in the class of 2015.
That timeline makes Northwestern’s renewed interest in 2014 linebacker Nyle Sykes an oddly intriguing development. For months, the Wildcats had seemingly focused their linebacker recruiting efforts (for 2014) almost exclusively on Brandon Lee, a three-star player out of Lawrence Central (IN) who will make an official visit to Northwestern next week for the Maine game.
But according to Sykes, describing conversations with coaches, Northwestern definitely, “wants me.” After requesting test scores from the Lombard (IL) native after his junior year, the Wildcats rarely spoke with Sykes until recently, when director of player personnel Chris Bowers began to contacted Sykes regularly through various social media outlets.
“They started talking to me more at the end of the summer,” Sykes said Sunday.
After playing outside linebacker his freshman year at Oak Park and River Forest, Sykes – who stands 6’2’’, 230-pounds and said he ran a 4.66 40-yd dash – switched to defensive end the next two seasons. He transferred to Montini Catholic for his senior season, where he has been lining up at outside linebacker, the position colleges are recruiting him at, and hopes to put out a video highlighting his talents there within the next couple of weeks.
Coaches from high-level BCS programs have expressed interest in seeing his film, among them Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Sykes’ list of offers, while not featuring Northwestern or any of the aforementioned three schools, includes Cincinnati, Iowa State, Purdue and Illinois.
With no definitive timetable for a decision, Sykes is content to release his tape and wait for feedback. If interested coaches, including Northwestern’s, are impressed enough to offer, he may be tempted to verbally commit before the end of the season; otherwise, he is perfectly fine waiting until closer to signing day.
“It depends,” Sykes said. “If offers come out before that, if I’m comfortable with a school, I’d do that before the season.”
He has no plans to visit Northwestern officially, but hopes to attend the Wildcats’ home game against Ohio State on October 5 with high school teammate and 2014 Ohio State commit Dylan Thompson. If the Wildcats offer, a contingency that could hinge on Lee’s decision, Sykes – who is attracted to Northwestern because of it’s location (“My parents will be able to see all of my games, basically,” he says) and academics (“Even if I don’t end up going to the NFL, graduating with that degree, I’m going to walk out of there with a job.”) – could plan an overnight visit to campus.
An offer from Northwestern would make the school one of Sykes’ top choices. “I would believe so,” he said.
The Wildcats are believed to have a limit of 15 scholarships for the 2014 class. They currently count 13 commitments, and have extended offers to three undecided defensive backs (Parrker Westphal, Adam Soesman and LaDarius Wiley) thought to be strongly considering Northwestern.
A late re-kindling of interest in Sykes, if it leads to an offer, adds another candidate to the list.
School: Montini Catholic
Position: Outside linebacker
Offers: Indiana, Illinois, Cincinnati, Purdue, Syracuse, others (has interest from Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Missippi State, Missouri, others)
Profiles: Scout, Rivals, 247, ESPN
Notes: started hearing from Northwestern coaches again at the end of the summer. Very interested, would like to visit.