Andrew and David Dowell, two four-star twins from Ohio, were the most sought-after members of Northwestern’s 2015 recruiting class. But according to reports from Steve Wiltfong of 247 Sports and Nick Medline of PurpleWildcats.com, the pair have de-committed.
Earlier Monday, Medline first reported that the twins were "checking some other schools out."
Just in: Text from 4-star #Northwestern RB commit Andrew Dowell: "Checking some other [schools] out." Could be massive blow for NU.— Nick Medline (@NickMedline) July 28, 2014
His twin, 4-star WR/DB David Dowell, also "checking out" schools. Not sure whether it's a soft verbal or de-commitment.— Nick Medline (@NickMedline) July 28, 2014
That set off the alarm bells, as Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald has a rigid policy with regards to commits flirting with other schools. He detests the idea of a soft commitment.
Then, an hour or so later, Wiltfong confirmed the de-commitment.
Andrew, a running back, and David, a defensive back, made headlines back in April when they chose Northwestern over the likes of Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Vanderbilt and West Virginia, among others. Now that they've re-opened their recruitment (they are apparently a package deal), Vanderbilt would appear to be their top choice.
In terms of where this leaves Northwestern, David is probably the bigger loss. Northwestern still has John Moten at running back in the 2015 class, a three-star, lightening quick athlete from Missouri, and brought in highly touted RB Justin Jackson this year. So the loss of Andrew can be dealt with, especially given the devaluation of the running back position in modern football.
But the loss of David, who also played wide receiver in high school, is a major blow. Fitzgerald will now surely look to add another defensive back, maybe even two, to the class. Isaac James, a three-star athlete from Indiana, is reportedly a target. But he won’t be able to replace Dowell.
The class does though still include a solid 16 members, and from all accounts, it is yet another strong one. There are now two or three spots still available.
Also, if there were any questions as to the strength of Fitzgerald’s policy, they can be put to rest. No matter who you are, or how good you are, Fitz will stick to his guns.
Update: Fitzgerald discussed his decommitment policy with Wildcat Digest and even said fans should be ready for more decommitments in the future:
"If we offer you a scholarship, we want you," Fitzgerald said. "I don't want to coach guys that don't want to be at Northwestern. If you're going to go date somebody else, then we're no longer, I don't care who you are."
The prospect of losing out on top talent because of such stringent rules has a few among the Northwestern faithful upset about the uncompromising attitude of Fitzgerald and his staff.
"Our fans better get ready for more decommitments," Fitzgerald said. "And I don't care. Our players don't want those kind of guys on our team."
It will be interesting to see if there's anything to that statement, and whether the Dowell twins won't be the only ones to decommit from this class.