POSITION: Offensive Line
HOMETOWN: Avon, Ohio
HIGH SCHOOL: Avon
247 COMPOSITE SCORE: .8575
NATIONAL RANKING: 663
POSITION RANK: 8
STATE RANK: 30
OTHER OFFERS: Illinois, Bowling Green, Iowa State, Ohio, Rutgers, Syracuse, Toledo
Sam Gerak is one of three offensive linemen in Northwestern’s 2017 class. Gerak is one of the better offensive lineman from the Midwest. His father John played at Penn State and had a five-year NFL career. Sam started at center at Avon High School as a freshman and has consistently gotten better since. According to 247 he’s the seventh-best recruit from this class.
Gerak is definitely different than past Northwestern offensive line recruits. After a few classes spent recruiting lighter and faster high school offensive linemen like Tommy Doles, Blake Hance and Jared Thomas, Northwestern’s last two classes have seen a return to recruiting stronger and bigger players. Gerak is certainly one of those players, as his tape shows. Although his offer sheet is a bit light (sorry Rutgers), it appears that a couple teams whiffed on Gerak’s prospects, as he reported to Scout.com that he had received some contact with Michigan State and Penn State and declined.
From viewing his tape, Gerak was just leagues ahead of opposing high school players in terms of size and strength. Unlike past Northwestern lineman, you can instantly tell Gerak is not a finesse lineman — he tries to knock the opponent down and use his size whenever possible. Critics could argue that he’s not the quickest offensive lineman of all time, but that doesn’t really matter when your main goal is to run people over. He looked like a more effective run blocker than pass blocker in his highlights.
Knowing how Pat Fitzgerald and Adam Cushing have integrated offensive lineman in the past, Gerak will likely redshirt in his freshman year. The current starting center, junior Brad North, played all 12 games last season and improved as the year went along. Redshirting won’t be a bad thing for Gerak, as most high school offensive lineman aren’t ready to start as college freshmen. Unless Northwestern’s coaches want to experiment, Gerak will probably play center, given that it’s the only position he played in high school. Moreover, Northwestern’s backup center Ian Park will be leaving to play at Slippery Rock next year rather than possibly taking another year due to medical hardship.
Park’s injury and the general attrition rate for offensive lineman means that Northwestern needs all the line help it can get. Gerak is one of the better O-Line recruits that the Wildcats have had in the past five years and one would hope he can reach his potential for the Wildcats.