Northwestern has secured 13 commitments for the Class of 2017. Of those 13, nine are expected to play on the defensive side of the ball, including the Wildcats' four highest-rated recruits: Sam Miller, Trevor Kent and Earnest Brown on the defensive line and J.R. Pace in the secondary.
Of Northwestern's four offensive recruits, two are offensive linemen, one is a quarterback, and one is a tight end — who is projected to play superback for the Wildcats.
That means the recruiting class lacks any running backs. Northwestern has reached out to four running backs, and each one has chosen to play elsewhere. The running back position, however, is certainly not a need for the Wildcats, who have brought in a ton of talent in the backfield over the past few years, including two incoming freshmen: Jesse Brown and Jeremy Larkin. This year, there is a host of running backs looking to make an impact. It's the offense's best position by far in terms of both skill and depth.
That also means that there are no wide receivers, a position that is a dire need of help for Northwestern. In fact, at this juncture, it's the biggest need on this team.
Northwestern currently has nine offers out to uncommitted Class of 2017 wide receivers. Some, like four-star guys Osiris St. Brown, Danny Davis, Saiid Adebo and Jeremiah Holloman have offer lists that Northwestern will find tough to compete with. NU is not the most appealing school for highly-touted pass catchers, given that last year's top wide receiver was Christian Jones, who caught just 23 passes. Every other Big Ten team's leading wideout had more catches, and it wasn't close. Clearly, Northwestern's 2016 wide receiver core is a major question mark.
But with the summer months being the most crucial for recruiting, Northwestern also has to look ahead to 2017. With no wide receivers committed, is it time to worry?
The answer right now is no. Northwestern got all three of its Class of 2016 wide receiver commits — Ben Skowronek, Riley Lees and Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman — in June. The same goes for three of the four 2015 wide receiver commits as Cam Green, Charlie Fessler and Jelani Roberts all committed in late June. The fourth member, Flynn Nagel, switched from Duke to Northwestern hours before signing his Letter of Intent in February 2015. The same pattern applies for the Classes of 2014, 2013 and 2012. Over the past half-century, Northwestern has not had a single wide receiver commit before June.
Perhaps this is Pat Fitzgerald's strategy. Perhaps it's just coincidence. Regardless, there's no reason to panic about a lack of wideouts at the beginning of June.
However, that does not mean there isn't urgency. There just isn't enough urgency to incite panic. Fitzgerald has plenty of time to secure wide receivers, and there's certainly some interest. Three-star Cameron Sullivan-Brown, for example, put the Wildcats in his Top 10 back in early April, and he's "warm" on Northwestern according to 247. Kyric McGowan is also "warm" on Northwestern, though his tape shows him playing out wide, in the backfield and at corner. There's no explicit reason to worry that Pat Fitzgerald and his staff can't reel in some of the three-star prospects they have offered.
If we hit the end of June and the Class of 2017 is still wide receiver-less, it's time for concern. But until then, it's not.