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Northwestern Football Recruiting Update

With four more commitments in the final week of June, Northwestern football's 2015 recruiting class is shaping up nicely. In fact, that's probably an understatement. Pat Fitzgerald has picked up an unprecedented 16 commitments in roughly two-and-a-half months, and the class, which could be nearing completion, now ranks 16th nationally according to 247 Sports.

That said, there are still some holes to fill, and still some questions to answer. Six or seven scholarships could potentially still be available, so Fitzgerald will probably still be in search of somewhere between three and six more pledges. Here's a look at the class, position by position, and how (and by whom) those remaining scholarships could be used.

Quarterback

Commits: None

Potential Targets:

Sam Darnold
School: San Clemente (CA)
Position: QB (Dual-threat)
Stars: 3
Other Offers: Oregon, USC, Duke, Tennessee, others
247 profile
Realistic or Reach?: Reach

Lloyd Yates
School: Oak Park (IL) and River Forest (IL)
Position: QB (Dual-threat)
Stars: 3
Offers: Akron, Western Michigan, Illinois State, Colgate, Northern Illinois
247 profile
Realistic or Reach?: Realistic

Analysis: After Travis Waller spurned NU for Oregon on Tuesday, I wrote extensively about what it meant for Northwestern's quarterback search. Click on the link for the full breakdown, but here is an excerpt:

In the same week [that Oregon offered Waller], 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.

Running Back

Commits:

Andrew Dowell
School: St. Edward (OH)
Position: RB
Stars: 4
Other Offers: Cincinnati, Illinois, Iowa State, Kent State, Ohio, Toledo, West Virginia, Western Michigan
247 Profile

John Moten
School: John Burroughs School (MO)
Position: RB
Stars: 3
Other offers: Boston College, Illinois, Missouri, Purdue
247 Profile

Potential Targets:

Justice Shelton-Mosley
School: Capital Christian (CA)
Position: RB/WR/ATH
Stars: 3
Other Offers: Cal, Duke, Harvard, Nevada, Utah
247 Profile
Realistic or Reach?: Realistic

Analysis: With two impressive running back signings this past year, and two more this year, NU looks set at the position. However, Shelton-Mosely, whom NU has offered, has named NU in his top ten (though they will not get an official visit). And he has been dubbed an "all-purpose back" by most recruiting services, so although NU already has good depth at the position, he could be somebody Fitz looks at as a unique player who deserves one of the remaining spots in the class.

Wide Receiver

Commits:

Cameron Green
School: Adlai Stevenson (IL)
Position: WR
Stars: 3
Other offers: Illinois, Iowa, Boston College, Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue
247 Profile

Charlie Fessler
School: Cathedral Prep (PA)
Position: WR
Stars: 3
Other Offers: Boston College, Ohio, Nebraska, others
247 Profile

Jelani Roberts
School: Gilman (MD)
Position: WR
Stars: 3
Other Offers: Boston College
247 Profile

Potential Targets:

Equanimeous St. Brown
School: Servite (CA)
Position: WR
Stars: 4
Other offers: Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Washington, Washington State, others
247 profile
Realistic or Reach?: Reach

Analysis: This is a diverse group of commits that NU has put together at receiver, and there are no more glaring needs at the position. However, that does not mean that Fitz is done -- mostly because St. Brown is a highly-touted player, and one who would arguably become NU's biggest get if he were to choose Northwestern. But his offer list is astounding, so chances are he won't end up in Evanston. So aside from an athlete that could eventually see time at wide receiver (see Isaac James, listed under defensive backs), NU is likely done here.

Superback

Commits: None

Potential Targets: None

UPDATE: Tyler Petite, previously mentioned here, has committed to Duke

Analysis: We haven't heard much about any pursuit of a superback in the class of 2015. Petite had NU on his list, but given his other options, a commitment from him was unlikely. There is an outside chance that one of the four defensive lineman could get converted to a superback -- though there doesn't appear to be a need for that.

Offensive Line:

Commits:

Adam Lemke-Bell
School: River Forest (IL)
Position: OT
Stars: 3
Other offers: Cincinnati, UConn, Iowa State, Minnesota, Rutgers, Syracuse
247 Profile

Andrew Otterman
School: Morristown Delbarton (NJ)
Position: OT/OG
Stars: N/A
Other offers: Syracuse
247 Profile

Jared Thomas
School: Cathedral (IN)
Position: OG/C
Stars: 3
Other offers: Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue
247 Profile

Potential Targets: None

Analysis: With Thomas' recent commitment, Fitzgerald might be done on the O-line for 2015. He could look to snag one more player, but there are no clear targets that have emerged.

Defensive Line:

Commits:

Trent Goens
School: Chino Hills (CA)
Position: DE
Stars: 2
Other offers: Boise State, Cal, Colorado, Miami, Washington, Washington State
247 Profile

Zach Allen
School: New Canaan (CT)
Position: DE
Stars: 3
Other offers: Boston College, UConn, Cornell, UMass
247 Profile

Joe Gaziano
School: Xaverian Brothers (MA)
Position: DE
Stars: 3
Other offers: Boston College
247 Profile

Jordan Thompson
School: LaSalle (OH)
Position: DT/DE
Stars: 3
Other offers: Duke, Notre Dame, Boston College, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisville, Michigan State, Minnesota, Toledo, Wake Forest, West Virginia
247 Profile

Potential Targets:

Dorance Armstrong
School: North Shore (TX)
Position: DE
Stars: 3
Other Offers: Cal, Houston, Indiana, Kansas, Memphis, Michigan State
247 Profile
Realistic or Reach?: Realistic

Analysis: With four commitments, the major thing to note here is that positions. Though all four (even Thompson) are listed as defensive ends by most recruiting services, he and possibly one other of the four could get moved inside (or maybe to superback?) at some point during their NU careers. And if Fitz likes Armstrong (he has an NU offer), we could even see him go after a fifth defensive line prospect.

Linebackers

Commits:

Nathan Fox
School: Clear Lake (TX)
Position: ILB
Stars: 3
Other offers: Mississippi State, Utah, Wake Forest
247 Profile

Tommy Vitale
School: Wheaton Warrenville South (IL)
Position: OLB
Stars: 3
Other offers: Northern Illinois, Syracuse, Toledo, Western Michigan
247 Profile

Simba Short
School: De La Salle (CA)
Position: S
Stars: 3
Other offers: Arizona State, Utah, Yale
247 Profile

Potential Targets:

Asmar Bilal
School: Ben Davis (IN)
Position: OLB/ILB
Stars: 3
Other Offers: Cincinnati, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, NC State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Western Michigan, Wisconsin
247 Profile
Realistic or Reach?: Reach

Tyriq Thompson
School: Martin Luther King (MI)
Position: OLB
Stars: 3
Other Offers: Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, NC State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Wisconsin
247 Profile
Realistic or Reach?: Reach

Jordon Williams
School: Jersey Village (TX)
Position: OLB/S
Stars: 3
Other Offers: Arkansas, Fresno State, Houston, Iowa State, Louisville, Utah, Wake Forest, others
247 Profile
Realistic or Reach?: Realistic

Analysis: It's reasonable to think that Fitz could look to add one more linebacker to this class. All three players listed as potential targets have Northwestern offers, and Thompson and Bilal would be ideal additions. However, they'll probably be tough to get. Williams, who could also be seen as a safety, might be a better possibility.

Defensive Backs

Commits:

David Dowell
School: St. Edward (OH)
Position: DB/WR
Stars: 4
Other offers: Cincinnati, Illinois, Kent State, Kentucky, Tennessee, Toledo, West Virginia
247 Profile

Potential Targets:

Isaac James
School: Carmel (IN)
Position: ATH/WR/DB
Stars: 3
Other Offers: Army, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Navy, Ohio, Western Michigan, Wisconsin
247 Profile
Realistic or Reach?: Realisitc

Analysis: NU has recruited well at defensive back in recent years, and has done so again this time around, especially with the commitment of Dowell. However, this could yet be one of the areas that Fitz looks to address with one of the final few scholarships. James, who is on NU's radar, is an athlete who would be a logical target, but he may be set on playing wide receiver (he's even played quarterback in high school), which might dissuade NU from pursuing him.

Specialists

Commits: None

Potential Targets: None (that we know of)

Analysis: Fitzgerald has apparently been looking for a kicker for this class, but his top two targets, Austin Seibert and Justin Yoon, have spurned Northwestern for Oklahoma and Notre Dame respectively. NU could still be after a kicker (or another specialist for that matter)... but as for the identity of that kicker, we haven't really got a clue.