Earlier this month, reports surfaced that USC running back Ty Isaac was released from his scholarship and seeking to transfer closer to home. The Trojans later sent out a tweet confirming Isaac’s transfer.
A former five-star recruit out of Joliet Catholic (Ill.) High School who rushed for 236 yards in his freshman season, Isaac is said to be coveted by multiple Big Ten schools. According to one reporter, Northwestern on May 14 was one of the “early frontrunners” to land Isaac.
Has anything changed over the last two weeks? Not really. But we do have a better sense of which schools could be in the running for Isaac. Isaac told the Chicago Tribune that he is transferring to be closer to home, and that he is looking at Big Ten schools that are “close to where I live.” He said his mother is dealing with “complications” from a surgical procedure and that he has filed a waiver seeking immediate eligibility.
Under NCAA rules, players filing hardship waivers must transfer to a school within 100 miles of his or her injured or ill family member to be eligible right away (New transfer rules recommended by the NCAA Division I Leadership Council this offseason would not go into effect until 2015). Northwestern is less than 60 miles away from Isaac’s home.
As noted by TheWolverine.com, two schools thought to have interest in Isaac – Michigan and Notre Dame – do not meet the 100-mile qualification. The Wolverines and Irish were also the two other schools Isaac considered in his final three before verbally committing to USC in May 2012. In addition, according to Isaac, he is forbidden from transferring to teams on USC’s schedule. That includes Notre Dame, though Isaac told the Tribune “that might change” because of a technicality.
Isaac would not be the first USC transfer to join the Wildcats. In January 2012, Northwestern took in wide out Kyle Prater, who has recorded only 19 receptions combined over two seasons. Isaac, who was limited during spring practice with an ankle injury, would be joining a deep running back rotation featuring Venric Mark, Stephen Buckley and Treyvon Green.
Isaac put up ridiculous numbers at Joliet Catholic (including 45 touchdowns on 11.9 yards per carry in his junior season), where he was a teammate of Malin Jones. Of course, Jones, who switched positions and was suspended for violation of team policy last season, may not be inclined to give Isaac a rousing recommendation of Northwestern.
Still, given Isaac’s stated interest in local Big Ten schools, Northwestern should not be ruled out as a potential destination. Prater has not had as much success with the Wildcats as some fans hoped, but that should not steer Isaac away from Evanston. Nor should Jones’ struggles to carve out a meaningful role in the Wildcats’ backfield serve as evidence Isaac would encounter similar issues. For what it’s worth, three Northwestern coaches – including Pat Fitzgerald – recently followed Isaac on Twitter.
Isaac should reveal his destination sooner than later. He said in a radio interview last week that he does not want to wait until August to make his decision.