Signing Day is strange. At many schools around the country, it's hectic. It's thrilling. And it's actually really important. If you're a Northwestern fan though, it's a phenomenon akin to Christmas day — but one of those Christmas Days where you already know what you're getting and you just have to wait to open it. Pat Fitzgerald and his staff have already put in all the work, done all the background research, made all the calls, and have known for weeks which high school seniors they'll be welcoming to the program in 2016. Signing Day for Northwestern is, in a way, simply a formality.
But it's also a celebration, especially for the kids who are fulfilling a dream. Just as you and the program have been waiting patiently, they've been anticipating the moment in which they sign their National Letters of Intent for an excrutiatingly long time.
Now they've all done so. All 20 of them. Northwestern's 2016 recruiting class is complete. Here's what you need to know about it:
By the Numbers
- For the second straight year, Northwestern's class is 20-deep.
- The class is split fairly evenly with 11 offensive players and 9 defensive players. There are four offensive linemen, three defensive backs, three linebackers, three defensive linemen, two running backs, two wide receivers, one quarterback, one superback and one athlete who will likely play receiver.
- Northwestern ranks right around the middle of the pack in the Big Ten. Scout and Rivals both have it 9th in the conference, while 247 has it 10th. Last year, Northwestern's class ranked 9th, 10th and 7th respectively.
- According to 247, the class is entirely composed of three-star recruits. Scout has Northwestern with 18 three-stars, but rates cornerback Brian Bullock as a two-star and Jeremy Larkin as a four-star. Rivals gives Northwestern 16 three-stars, 3 two-stars (running back Jesse Brown, defensive tackle Alex Miller and safety Travis Whillock) and rating cornerback Roderick Campbell as a four-star.
- Unlike last year, Northwestern reached out of Illinois to get 90 percent of its class. The most heavily represented state is Ohio (6). Other states with multiple signees are Texas (4), Indiana (2) and Illinois (2). Georgia, Virginia, Florida, Missouri, Michigan and Minnesota are also represented.
How the class came together
- Northwestern's first commit of the class was also its only de-commit, quarterback Deuce Wallace. Wallace originally committed back on March 14th, but then a month later de-committed, flipping to Vanderbilt.
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- Due to Wallace's de-commit, Brian Bullock was the first actual commit of the class of 2016. Bullock committed back on April 11. Northwestern then received commitments from Nik Urban and Roderick Campbell later in April. Offensive linemen Cameron Kolwich and Jesse Meyler joined that trio in May.
- June was the biggest month of the year for the Wildcats. Of the class's 20 members, 13 committed in June. Northwestern received six commits between June 7 and June 9 alone. When Mark Gooden gave NU his pledge in
- Quarterback Aidan Smith was the fourth choice at the position for the Wildcats. Northwestern originally extended offers to Wallace, Anthony Brown of New Jersey and Joshua Jackson of Michigan. After Wallace de-committed, the Wildcats pursued Brown and Jackson. It wasn't until after Brown chose Boston College and Jackson seemed likely to head to Virginia Tech that Northwestern focused on the Fort Wayne product Smith. He committed a day after he received an offer, and then shot up recruiting rankings with a strong summer and a strong senior year.
- Following its 10-win season, Northwestern scored on what might be the best prospect in its class in December. Running back Jeremy Larkin de-committed from Cincinnati in mid-December and flipped to Northwestern. Larkin became the 20th and final member of the class.
What makes the class unique
- One member of the class is already on campus and taking classes at Northwestern. Defensive end Tommy Carnifax is the second player in the Pat Fitzgerald era to enroll early. However, Carnifax had shoulder surgery, which means he's less likely to play as a true freshman than a typical early enrollee.
- Northwestern's two highest rated recruits, Campbell and Larkin were on opposite ends of the commitment calendar. Campbell was Northwestern's third commit, deciding to come to Evanston on April 28th, while Larkin was the last commit, joining on December 13th after de-committing from Cincinnati.
Signing Day podcast
- Jango Glackin, the best linebacker in Northwestern's class, is originally from Ohio, but attended IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. for his senior year of high school. IMG Academy is a "private athletic training institute" that houses U.S. Soccer's premier youth development academy and churns out college athletes left and right in all sports. Glackin played alongside the top quarterback in the class of 2016, Ole Miss commit Shea Patterson, as well as two other top-50 players in the class.
- Offensive lineman Jesse Meyler is originally from Toronto, Canada.
- Riley Lees, a high school quarterback who will play wide receiver at Northwestern, AMASSED 4,435 TOTAL YARDS AND 62 TOUCHDOWNS IN HIS SENIOR SEASON ALONE.
- The class only features two players from Indiana, but they're both from the same town. Quarterback Aidan Smith and wide receiver Ben Skowronek both hail from Fort Wayne.
- There are only two players from Illinois in the class, Riley Lees and Eric Eshoo. It's the fewest in-state commits in a Northwestern recruiting class since 2010, when the Wildcats' class only had one player from Illinois.
- There are a few walk-ons that we know of. The program announced wide receiver Parker Oliver and tight end/long-snapper Tyler Gilikin — brother of Blake Gilikin, a punter whom Northwestern pursued but missed out on — on Wednesday. Also committed as walk-ons are wide receiver Jack Tirmonia and linebacker/tight end Cody Link.
- This story stream is your home for all things National Signing Day.
- Here are our live updates from Signing Day, with tweets and pictures from the newest Wildcats as they sign their National Letters of Intent.
- Want to know more about the individual players? If they weren't mentioned above, you can check out an individual profile for each of the 20 players here.
- We discussed various aspects of the class, including the players we're most excited about, on our Signing Day preview podcast.
- Fitzgerald will hold his annual Signing Day press conference at 11:30 CT in Chicago. Here's the complete schedule for the day.
- You can also play Singing Day Press Conference Bingo. This year's Bingo card will be published around 10 a.m. CT.
- Have any questions about Signing Day that we haven't covered? Ask and get them answered in the comments.