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: Running Back
HOMETOWN: St. Louis, Mo.
HIGH SCHOOL: John Burroughs High School
247 COMPOSITE RATING: ★★★ (.8539)
NATIONAL RANK: 793
POSITION RANK: 59
STATE RANK: 13
OTHER OFFERS: Boston College, Illinois, Missouri, Purdue, Syracuse, Wake Forest
MORE: 247 Profile | Hudl
Moten committed to Northwestern pretty early on in the process, affirming his intention to Pat Fitzgerald's program last April as a junior. The commitment was maybe a bit of a surprise, as Moten chose NU over a pair of Big Ten schools in Purdue and Illinois as well as a few ACC schools and even his home-state Missouri Tigers. According to 247 Sports, he first unofficially visited Northwestern back in January 2014 and then again on April 12, a day before he committed. He took his only official visit to campus a few weeks ago.
Interestingly, after Moten announced his decision, he was playing in a 7-on-7 scrimmage at Notre Dame when the Fighting Irish said he was welcome to join their program as well. Moten mulled the idea, as Notre Dame is certainly a top-flight football school with a long history, but he eventually decided to stick with NU and became fast friends with fellow commit Tommy Vitale at the scrimmage. Possibly, Fitz and his staff owe credit for Moten to Dan Vitale's younger brother.
In a 247 Sports article on his commitment, Moten is quoted as saying: "I want to be able to compete with good athletes and I also want to be a student-athlete, and Northwestern has a great APR rating." Clearly, he chose Northwestern for more than just football reasons and puts an emphasis on his education, which is always great to hear from a recruit. St. Louis-area NBC station KSDK even did a story on how Moten's game is based as much on his knowledge of football as it is on his physical abilities.
Obviously, as this past season attested to, Northwestern's running back depth chart is going to be crowded for the next few years. There's Justin Jackson of course, but the position is also reinforced with guys like Warren Long (junior), Solomon Vault (sophomore) and Auston Anderson (freshman), among others, for awhile. So it might be hard for Moten to get many carries right away. Thus, he will almost certainly redshirt.
Initially, his role looks to be on special teams, maybe as a gunner on kickoff and punt coverages. He has a ton of speed--4.4-second 40-yard dash time--so he can get down the field quickly to cover opponents on special teams for sure. But, running back-wise, he's a little small so he definitely would need to bulk up a bit if he is going to make an impact on offense.
With his 6-foot frame, though, I could also see a possible secondary usage for Moten in the slot. Northwestern had a ton of issues with receiver drops this year so another wideout candidate wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
Moten's frame and character seem to indicate a bright future for him at NU, just don't expect to see a ton of him in 2015. Down the road, though, he has a good shot to be an important athletic asset.