Jordan Thompson Jared Thomas Joe Gaziano Trent Goens Nathan Fox Simba Short John Moten Cameron Green Adam Lemke-Bell Tommy Vitale Montre Hartage Flynn Nagel Charlie Fessler Trae Williams Jelani Roberts Alonzo Mayo Steven Reese Andrew Otterman Lloyd Yates Jacob Murray
Following a relatively quiet offseason, Northwestern's football program will welcome members of its 2015 recruiting class to the program on Feb. 4 for National Signing Day. Even with de-commitments from some of the Wildcats' top targets, Pat Fitzgerald and co. still managed to put together a solid class. As of now, Northwestern's crop of new talent ranks 47th nationally, according to 247 Sports, the same rank they had last year. We'll be putting out player capsules like these in the lead up to National Signing Day so you can learn more about this new bunch of Wildcats.
POSITION: Dual-Threat Quarterback
HOMETOWN: Oak Park, Ill.
HIGH SCHOOL: Oak Park-River Forest
247 COMPOSITE RATING: ★★★ (.8169)
NATIONAL RANK: 1,643
POSITION RANK: 45
STATE RANK: 37
OTHER OFFERS: Akron, Illinois St, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Colgate
MORE: 247 Profile | Hudl | Twitter
Yates committed to Northwestern over the summer of 2014. After receiving an offer from Pat Fitzgerald on July 15th, he committed just two days later, becoming Northwestern's 17th recruit in the 2015 class. The Oak Park River Forest product will be staying close to home; Northwestern is just about an hour or so northeast of his high school. He was also high school teammates with NU-bound offensive lineman Adam Lemke-Bell. Additionally, his father and older brother attended Northwestern.
There's no doubt Yates brings quickness to this offense. His highlight tape can show you that. His Hudl page will tell you he runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, but after watching his highlight tapes, it is also evident that he runs patiently and reads blocks well. Once he breaks contain, Yates is an adept thrower on the run, and he has impressive arm strength and good feel for deep passes. The video below shows several highlights of his multi-faceted game. On the first throw, he delivers a dart along the sideline (although the safety took a poor angle). The next play shows his speed and agility. He throws a pretty deep touchdown on the third play, and on the final play, he throws another touchdown. Obviously he terrorized the defense of Downers Grove North.
The video also shows that Yates has considerable experience running the option offense, something Northwestern has used a lot at time in the past. He admitted his "first instinct" is to scramble in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times' Beth Long. In the interview with Long, you can tell Yates is a candid guy who puts team success first.
It remains to be seen, however, where Yates will play. He's a terrific athlete, and his experience in the option offense may help him at quarterback, but as first reported by our own Josh Rosenblat this summer, Yates may start at quarterback and then switch to another position, perhaps wide receiver.
The first guy who comes to mind when watching Yates' junior and senior year highlights on Hudl is Kain Colter. (Thanks to the Big Ten Network's Youtube Channel for the highlights of him slashing up Indiana). Overall, what Yates brings is speed. He likes to hold onto the ball for a long time on the read option, and when he decides to pull the ball out, he can make guys miss and pick up chunks of yards.
We really have no idea whether or not Yates will be able to progress as a pocket passer, but the arm strength and touch on the deep ball are apparent. However, he's got plenty of talent in front of him at quarterback, with the biggest name, Clayton Thorson, only a year ahead of him. Still, I think there's a place for Yates on the field somewhere down the road just based on his elusiveness and big play ability. Could he split out wide? Perhaps. Could he be part of a two-man quarterback rotation, like Trevor Siemian and Colter were at times two seasons ago? That's also a possibility. Overall, I think Pat Fitzgerald should try to get this guy on the field. A player with such a wide variety of skills really opens up the playbook and keeps the opposing defense off balance.