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Travis Waller commits to Oregon; what it means for NU

Travis Waller, a highly-coveted dual-threat quarterback from Anaheim, Calif., and one of Northwestern’s top targets for the class of 2015, has passed on the Wildcats in favor of Oregon. Waller announced his commitment Tuesday via Twitter.

And while not unexpected, his decision further complicates Pat Fitzgerald’s search for a quarterback to add to his already impressive 2015 recruiting class.

Waller was one of two big prospects that NU had been after for a while. But over the past two weeks, the situation has become muddled.

Waller’s recruitment took countless twists and turns. Back on June 9, Waller announced a top four of Alabama, Northwestern, Notre Dame and Ohio State. However, Ohio State hadn’t yet offered him a scholarship, and never ended up doing so. And Alabama received a commitment from QB Blake Barnett shortly after, so they were seemingly out of the running, leaving just Notre Dame and NU.

But then Oregon swooped in with an offer on June 21, seemingly making them the clear favorites for Waller. And in the same week, longtime USC commit David Sills decommitted, prompting the Trojans to extend an offer to NU’s other main target, three-star dual-threat QB Sam Darnold. Now, Darnold, once a real possibility for NU, looks unlikely to come to Evanston.

This presents Fitzgerald with a conundrum. Should he miss out on his top two targets, he could go down either of two roads. One option is to dig deeper, and attempt to find a diamond in the rough – a lesser known, less sought-after prospect. The other option would be to pass on QB altogether for the class of 2015.

Should Fitz consider the first option, one name to know is local three-star dual-threat QB Lloyd Yates, to whom we spoke back in May. However, not many other possibilities have surfaced.

In general, Fitzgerald and his staff must decide if their quarterback depth is sufficient. If it isn’t, they could be tempted to reach for Yates or another unheralded player. But if it is, they could take a chance and put all their money on being able to bring a quality QB from the class of 2016 to Evanston.

The payoff there would be not being forced to use a scholarship on a quarterback potentially not up to NU’s standards. But the risk is that, should next year’s search yield similar results to this year’s, the quarterback cupboard could be alarmingly bare three or four years down the road for Fitzgerald and Northwestern.