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National Signing Day 2017: Pat Fitzgerald Press Conference

Pat Fitzgerald talked about the defensive line emphasis, Texas, technology and Joe Spivak.

Pat Fitzgerald

  • Fitz opened the press conference by thanking just about every person on coaching staff, the recruiting trail and a the univsersity.
  • Fitz added that the players who host recruits on unofficial and official visits are one of the team’s biggest strengths and that he’s thankful for them. "[The players] are our best ambassadors"
  • The average GPA of the class was 3.55, Fitz called it "the smartest group of guys that we’ve recruited"
  • Northwestern only offered 85 players throughout the country and got 19 commits. Fitz was proud of the "hit rate" and about how they don’t just recruit flash, they recruit for "best fit."
  • 18 of the 19 commits were before the recruits’ senior year and 6 were before March 2016.
  • Fitz mentioned that the incoming class is very tight knit and that "they’ve been on a group chat for months.
  • When asked about the classes nickname #SavageCats17, Fitz said that "It’s all about the hashtag" and praised the recruiting office for their "analytics and what ever other things I can say here that would be sexy."
  • Fitz on if defensive line was an emphasis: "you always have to be a couple years out in anticipation of depth and needs, and sometimes things are out of your control that you can’t anticipate. But we have always tried to do a good job upfront."
  • Fitz on recruiting linemen: "The Power 5 conferences are all line of scrimmage leagues, for us to continue to take the steps to be successful on the field, we have to recruit well on the line of scrimmage and I think this group on both sides, offensively and defensively will have that competitive depth."
  • Fitz on Sam Miller: "I’ll know a lot more about Sam with him being early enrolled, than Trevor and Earnest when they get here."
  • Fitz on the future aspirations: "Total different attitude right now than where we were this time last year" Also mentioned that the team is much healthier right now than it was last year.
  • Fitz on the Pinstripe Bowl: "a great last chapter for our seniors, but then a huge opportunity for the future. I think we really developed over that month and carried that over to last few weeks"
  • Fitz on the recruiting system: "I’ve been pretty outspoken, I think this model is broken. I think we’ve got to improve transparency in the process. I think we have to do what’s best for the students athletes and their families."
  • Fitz also added that he thinks if a recruit is offered a scholarship then they should be able to sign after a 72 hour waiting period.
  • "I would love to go back to 1985, when we didn’t talk to kids until they were seniors, and we took the train back for the station after talking to them"
  • "I think always we start with the fit. We got a group of guys coming in who fit exactly who we are."
  • "If you fit our academic profile we’re gonna be really excited about getting to know you..."
  • On walkons like Austin Carr: "They’re the backbone of our program. They turn down scholarships, they turn down playing a lower level because they want to play at the highest level."
  • On the number of recruits from Texas: "We always start our recruiting process in Chicago...Our brand is very strong throughout the country, especially in the state of Texas. You go down to the state of Texas and you beat Texas to a defensive player, that’s big. Our veteran coaches have great relationships with the high school coaches in that area.
  • "We’re building a brand that nationally is seen as a winner. You look at our 12-year track record of never backing out of a commitment, our 12-year track record of graduating all of our players, our track record of success on the field."
  • Fitz said that cell phones had changed the game completely. "We still have this thing called the spring recruiting phone call, but I talked to 15 juniors this morning after I shoot them a text message to call me.
  • On moral fiber of recruits: "We have a good set of values we believe in. From an attitude standpoint, work ethic, respect, and you go down the line and you figure out what would fit our locker room. Kids are gonna give you that evidence on social media. You go back to 1992 and that doesn’t happen."
  • On the bias of high school coaches: "I go all over the country to recruit players and I keep hearing ‘he’s the best kid we’ve ever had’. And they go on and on and I say the unique thing for me is I have 111 young people just like this back on campus."
  • On Joe Spivak: "Bob Heffner (NU assistant coach) coached his [Joe Spivak’s] father at Illinois started there. Joe’s been in our football camp since first grade. Young man we know a lot about. There’s a handful of guys who had scholarship opportunities at other schools."
  • "I’m kinda done predicting, I’ll leave that to Louis and those guys on the Internet, to figure out where these guys are going."
  • "I really challenge our guys to finish what they started. This’ll go away if they make the wrong choices. If you make bad choices socially or academically I’m gonna void this scholarship. And I make it crystal clear in front of their families."
  • Fitz had high praise for Chris Collins and the men’s basketball team.
  • "I think the momentum we have in football, sustained in men’s basketball, I think it’ll help us to continue to build our brand."