The beginning of football season has distracted attention from the main storyline Wildcats fans tracked all summer (and most other recent summers, dating back to the advent of recruiting-dedicated sites on the internet): recruiting. Football games are more interesting, more important, and more fun to talk, argue and read about. Recruiting is something most football fans fuss over to pass the time, a handy expedient to drag them through a brutally long offseason.
As the Wildcats enter a soft stretch of their nonconference schedule, it’s an excellent time to revisit some of the main recruiting storylines. Because once Ohio State comes to town, and Northwestern enters Big Ten play, varsity football will dominate Wildcats-related sports news. We’ll circle back to the subject as Northwestern fills out the rest of its 2014 class, with each commitment sparking spiked-yet-transient interest throughout the fall and winter, but the time to talk about recruiting, just for the sake of talking recruiting – the stuff we spent thousands of words on all summer – is now. There hasn’t been much activity on the commitment front over the past two months, and the following guys might not join NU’s impressive 2014 class.
That won’t stop us from discussing them: Here’s a quick update on three of Northwestern’s biggest remaining targets in 2014:
(A note: this is not a comprehensive list of Northwestern’s 2014 recruits. There are other players, including defensive backs Adam Soesman and LaDarius Wiley, that are very much on the Wildcats’ radar as they look to wrap up this class).
Thanks to Lee’s hyperactive Twitter account, every fan, coach or recruiting analysts interested in his recruitment has been kept up to speed all summer. Lee narrowed his list down to five schools – Louisville, Oregon, Cal, Northwestern and Virginia Tech – in July and plans to make a decision after he takes a few official visits. He was in Berkeley Saturday for Northwestern’s 44-30 win over the Golden Bears, and afterward, despite the loss, said he thoroughly enjoyed his visit. Lee plans to visit Northwestern the weekend of September 21, when the Wildcats host Maine, and hopes to make it out to Virginia Tech near the end of October for the Hokies’ home matchup with Duke. Technically speaking, Northwestern will host Lee for one official visit, but beating the Golden Bears by two touchdowns, with Lee watching in person, allowed the Wildcats to leave a strong impression in a tough road environment.
Lee has maintained he wants to visit Louisville and Oregon – and after their new facilities unveil, how could you not? – but has not locked down dates for those trips. Not that it really matters (unless he unexpectedly decides to expand his list), but for contextual purposes, here are some of Lee’s other offers: Michigan State, Missouri, Penn State, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Minnesota and others.
School: Lawrence Central (IN)
Other offers: Ball State, Cal, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Missouri, NC State, Oregon, Purdue
Profiles: Scout, Rivals, ESPN
Notes: NU in his top five, along with Oregon, Cal, Louisville and Virginia Tech; Taking official visit to Cal for NU-Cal game; Ranked No. 25 OLB nationally by Scout; ESPN “Watch List” player; Visit to NU weekend of April 6
Of the three players on this list, Dickeron seems the least likely to commit to Northwestern. After narrowing his lengthy batch of offers – which includes everyone from Alabama to Wisconsin to Florida State to Ohio State, and many, many more – to three (Michigan, Northwestern, Stanford), Dickerson declared Stanford his favorite. That was before he took any official visits: Dickerson has been on Northwestern’s campus before, but says he wants to take official visits to each of his three finalists. His brother, Cameron, is a backup receiver for the Wildcats, though according to Garrett, the Northwestern sophomore hasn’t been as persistent a Wildcats salesman as one might expect.
Instead, it’s been 2014 commit and Bergen Catholic teammate Cameron Queiro, brother of Northwestern freshman safety Kyle Queiro, who has served as the Wildcats’ main boots-on-the-ground recruiter. Dickerson is being recruited as a linebacker by Stanford and a defensive end by Michigan; the Wildcats are recruiting him as a football player, full stop, allowing Dickerson the full range of positional choice.
School: Bergen Catholic (NJ)
Other offers: Alabama, Arizona, Boston College, UConn, Florida State, Maryland, Michigan, NC State, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, Toledo, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin
Profiles: Scout, Rivals, ESPN
Notes: Has NU third in his final three, with notes on it from ESPN (subscriber only); Would be a tough get considering other offers, but his brother, Cameron, is currently a wide receiver at NU; Has good relationship with NU coaches and being “recruited” by 2014 commit Cameron Queiro; Visited NU weekend of April 13, according to Wildcat Report
The guys over at 247 have a pretty cool feature they use to give readers a lead on where prospects should be expected to land: it’s called the Crystal Ball. What happens is, 247 gets a bunch of recruiting analysts – not all of them associated exclusively with 247, which is a nice touch of inclusiveness and cooperation few (if any) other recruiting sites allow – to predict where a certain player will end up, then compiles these predictions and tabulates the results in percentage form. For much of the summer, 247’s crystal ball unanimously believed Michigan would be Westphal’s eventual destination. Then, in August, something strange happened: 19 out of 20 crystal ball analysts chose Northwestern, including several strictly affiliated with Michigan sites. The one exception? SB Nation National Recruiting Analysts Bud Elliot, who predicted Nebraska.
It’s been difficult to track Westphal’s recruitment, because he rarely speaks to the media. He did recently go on the record with Scout. com’s Beth Long (subscription required) after a high school game with Bolingbrook (IL) and said he expects to make a decision in less than three weeks. Westphal’s double-digit offer list includes Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Vanderbilt and Northwestern, but all obscurely sourced literature on the subject – which is about as reliable as it sounds – points to Westphal having narrowed his choices to Vanderbilt, Michigan State and Northwestern. The Wildcats are believed, in many sectors of the vast recruiting-oriented media force, to be Westphal’s top choice, but given the dearth of solid information surrounding his constantly evolving college search, it’s hard to know whether that has any basis in fact.
School: Bolingbrook (IL)
Other offers: Cincinnati, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue, West Virginia
Profiles: Scout, Rivals, ESPN
Notes: Visited NU first weekend of March; Said NU is one of his favorites; Will likely commit before his senior season.