Pat Fitzgerald and staff have been putting together a masterful 2017 recruiting class, but one question remained: could Northwestern still recruit elite skill players? All doubt that may have existed was washed away on Sunday, one day after Northwestern's spring practice, when the Wildcats received verbal commitments from tight ends (or likely superbacks-to-be) Trey Pugh and Bryce Wolma, the first two offensive skill player commits of the 2017 class.
Pugh announced his commitment at 11:25 a.m. on Sunday and Wolma followed him up with a tweet at 3:25 p.m. The two tight ends will bring size, athleticism, and plenty of excitement to a passing offense that was one of the nation's worst in 2015 and still a concern headed into 2016.
Ranked the nation's 25th best tight end per 247 Sports, Pugh has earned offers from Arkansas, Duke, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State, Illinois, and had interest from Ohio State and Michigan State.
"Northwestern has it all," Pugh told Inside NU. "I love the coaching staff, the atmosphere within the players, and the opportunity that Northwestern provides me and my future."
Wolma, the nation's 27th best tight end, had a similarly impressive list of offers, including Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, and West Virginia. It was the coaching staff that helped Northwestern earn his commitment.
"The coaching staff is the thing that really sold me," Wolma told Inside NU. "After visiting the staff on Friday, there was no other group of mentors I'd want to play for. You can tell they really care about the players on a level higher than just football."
The two tight ends did not communicate about their commitments together, but they did talk to each other on their visits and spoke highly of one another. The coaching staff has plenty of time to figure out how to incorporate both Pugh and Wolma into the offense.
"They (the coaching staff) think we could be complimentary to one another," Pugh told Inside NU. "They see [Wolma] as more of an in-line tight end and me as more of a wideout, but we're both capable of doing whatever we're needed to do."
The superback position is part of what sold Northwestern to Wolma.
"I love the superback," he told Inside NU. "It is actually a huge reason why I committed as well. All of the different things the position does is very similar to what I do in high school with my spread offense. I split out, motion, and do a variety of different things."
Factoring into both Wolma and Pugh's decisions were the new and improved athletic facilities, including the $260 million Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center that should be done by 2017.
"The facilities are awesome, and the new facilities coming in that will be done for the 2017 class are jaw dropping," Wolma told Inside NU.
"The new facilities are gonna be so sick," Pugh told Inside NU.
Northwestern's recruitment success is no fluke. Northwestern's coaching staff is reaping the rewards of a 10-win season, new state-of-the-art athletic facilities, and the family atmosphere many recruits speak highly of. Pugh and Wolma infuse major talent into this class, but Fitzgerald and Co. are far from done putting together what looks to be their best recruiting job ever.
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