CHICAGO — With Northwestern football's 20-player recruiting class all locked up, head coach Pat Fitzgerald met the media at Harry Caray's in downtown Chicago. Here are the highlights of what Fitzgerald had to say:
- When asked if he had decided to retain his entire coaching staff, Fitzgerald said: "Yeah, absolutely."
- Fitzgerald confirmed that Northwestern recruited Riley Lees as a wide receiver, not a quarterback. "No, not at all," Fitzgerald said with regards to the high school signal-caller being under center in Evanston. "Maybe throwing the ball back to the quarterback," he joked. "We recruited Riley as a wide receiver, we were very clear to him early on in the process."
- Fitzgerald stressed the importance of competitive depth at wide receiver. He feels these last two classes will give Northwestern that.
- Fitzgerald hinted that his team's success in 2015 helped on the recruiting trail with the 2016 class — not necessarily in convincing uncommitted prospects to come to NU, because 19 of the 20 players had already committed prior to the season, but in holding off the advances of other schools who continued to recruit those 19 players.
- Fitzgerald: "An increasingly larger part of the evaluation of the prospect, for us, is evaluating the parents. It's a big part of the evaluation. When we talk about our fit, we're evaluating the parents too. And if the parents don't fit, then we might punt on the player and not end up offering him a scholarship. And that has changed over the course of a decade. Ten years ago, that wasn't as big. Now it's a big part of it."
- Fitzgerald said the parents of the players in the 2016 class created a Facebook group, and said "the parents had a better time than the players" on official visit weekend.
- When asked about de-commitments and offers being pulled, Fitzgerald said: "When we offer you a scholarship, it is a committable scholarship offer. If you decide to commit we're going to take your commit unless you change your academic character or your social character, we're not going to change from that. That's the way we philosophically believe in going about it."
- Fitzgerald on de-commits: "We've had some young men who've had a change in their decision so that their commitment needs to go somewhere else, and I think I've been pretty clear that we're going to move on somewhere else. That's just the way we've always done it and I think you've seen minimal de-commitments from our program over a decade because of that. You build a relationship on trust, you build it on honesty."
- Fitzgerald: "If a guy is afraid of competition, I'm not sure they're a good fit for our program. And I'm probably not a good fit as their coach."
- When asked about offensive line prospects, Fitzgerald called Gunnar Vogel a "massive man" and noted that Nik Urbanis the lightest of the four because he's one of the best high school wrestlers in Ohio.
- Fitzgerald said the process of deciding whether or not to enroll early starts with discussions with the player and his family. It then goes to academics: "And then I gotta help him understand that he's gonna go to the water fountain, think he's gonna drink water, and get hit by a fire hose."
- Fitzgerald said Tommy Carnifax is rooming with Class-of-2015 wide receiver Charlie Fessler, who redshirted this year.
- Fitzgerald said he talked to Jango Glackin and his family about Jango enrolling early, but they decided against it.