Northwestern’s 2017 signing day has come to a close. Aside from reeling in graduate transfer wide receiver Jalen Brown, it was a pretty normal day: All 17 committed non-early enrollees signed when their time came.
So who’s next? Northwestern has gotten started on #NUView18 and will now turn its entire focus to that class. Here’s an update on where Pat Fitzgerald and his staff currently stand for 2018.
Northwestern has its guy in Jason Whittaker, who committed in December. A three-star pro-style quarterback, Whittaker committed over three MAC schools as well as Indiana and Iowa State. Fitzgerald likes to bring in one quarterback per class, and he got that out of the way early in this recruiting cycle. Whittaker has great size at 6-foot-4.
There are also offers out to three dual-threat quarterbacks: Tanner Mordecai, Quincy Patterson and Re-al Mitchell. Mordecai plays in a spread system in Texas and holds a long list of Big 12 offers. Patterson is a three-star prospect out of Chicago, and he holds offers from a handful of Big Ten schools as well as several Big 12, ACC and SEC offers. And finally Mitchell was 2017 WR commit Berkeley Holman’s quarterback at national powerhouse St. John Bosco.
Northwestern didn’t bring in a single running back — scholarship or walk-on — in 2017, so Fitzgerald will be hot on the trail to bring in at least one in 2018. The Wildcats will graduate both Warren Long and Justin Jackson after the 2017 season, so the need there is doubled. While John Moten IV, Jeremy Larkin and Jesse Brown will all be around, the Wildcats are already getting started at the position with six offers out.
Kyle Dobbins, out of New Jersey, is the lone “all-purpose back” in the group. Similar to most of Northwestern’s recruits out of the Northeast, he holds offers from Boston College and Rutgers, but North Carolina, Temple and Virginia Tech are all potential suitors, and Penn State and South Carolina have shown interest.
Four-stars Ronnie Walker and Master Teague, out of Virginia and Tennessee, respectively, headline the running back list. Both hold offers from their state schools as well as a bevy of other Power 5 schools.
Three-star Tyrone Tracy seems to be highest on the Wildcats out of all of the running backs who have been offered. An Under Armour All-American, Tracy stands at 6-foot and weighs in at 185 pounds. Out of Decatur Central in Indianapolis, he’s a versatile back who posted gaudy numbers as both a runner — 147 rushes for 1239 yards and 11 touchdowns — and as a pass-catcher — 27 receptions for 690 yards and seven touchdowns. In addition to some MAC offers and a Navy offer, Tracy holds two other Big Ten offers: Iowa and Illinois. The sixth-best player in Indiana could be a name to watch for.
Rounding out the running backs are three-star Justus Woods and unranked Jahmir Smith. Woods, out of North Carolina, has a small but impressive offer list that includes Duke and Stanford, Virginia and Wisconsin. Smith also holds a Wisconsin offer.
Babb has his pick of almost any program he’d like to play for, but Jones is a bit of a different story. Per 247, Jones has had six unofficial visits to Northwestern dating back to August of 2014, and Pat Fitzgerald was on the phone with him on National Signing Day.
Just got off the phone with coach fitz! @NUFBFamily 365 days until 2018! Happy signing day seniors!— Micah Jones (@mej2018) February 1, 2017
It’s easy to see why the program is hot on Jones’s tail. He’s 6-foot-5 and weighs 200 pounds, hails from nearby Gurnee, and is ranked as the third-best player in the state of Illinois. He recently took an overnight visit with the team as well. Jones is a BOOM player (the same development team and showcase program 2017 commit Jace James played for) and showed off at the Midwest BOOM Showcase in January.
His junior season highlights show his size, speed and athleticism as well as his willingness and ability to go up over defenders for the ball.
Northwestern is a strong contender for Jones, but the Wildcats certainly aren’t alone. Notre Dame, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan State are all thought to be leaders in a very competitive race. Jones will announce his decision in April.
Northwestern has four offers out to potential superbacks. Four-stars Jeremy Ruckert and Will Mallory (the third and 11th-best tight ends in the nation, respectively) will be tough. But three-star Reese Moore and unranked local product Brian Kaiser are certainly reasonable possibilities, and Kaiser is perhaps even a probable signee — Northwestern, Iowa State and Vanderbilt have offered, though Wisconsin is interested. At 6-foot-7 and 210 pounds, Kaiser has the frame to succeed as a superback, and his father, Steve, played tight end at Northwestern. Kaiser shows good route-running skill and ability as both a pass catcher and a blocker in his highlight video.
The Wildcats have already reeled in one lineman, Texas tackle Payne He’Bert. Fitzgerald classes typically include at least one player at tackle, guard and center, though there are currently no centers offered.
At tackle, three prospects remain on the table. Three-star Wyatt Blake is a local product who has held a Northwestern offer since June and could be a nice fit. High three-star John Dirksen and four-star Ryan Hayes have offer lists that will be tough to compete against.
There are also four offers out to guards. High three-star Blaine Scott out of Ohio boasts a really impressive offer list, but there are options behind him. Ollie Lane is a three-star out of Corryton, Tennessee with just five offers. Charles Schmidt is a local product out of Libertyville, and his lone Crystal Ball prediction has him headed to Evanston. He holds offers from Iowa State, Syracuse and Vanderbilt. Rounding out the group is unranked Ohio native Austin Beier whose only other offer is from Toledo.
Northwestern has offered three ends and two tackles. At end, unranked Joseph Ossai could be a sneaky good pickup. He holds several Big 12 offers, including Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech. Northwestern established a strong defensive line pipeline in Texas in the 2017 class and hopes to continue that trend. Four-star Devin O’Rourke and unranked Taylor Upshaw are the two other ends with offers. After Northwestern’s really successful 2017 class at this position, it isn’t necessarily one of the highest needs.
At defensive tackle, the Wildcats have two offers out. Josh Walker, a product of powerhouse IMG Academy, offers really good size at 6-foot-2 and 285 pounds. Jevon Henderson of Dayton, Ohio, is unranked but also offers solid size at 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds. Northwestern is his only Power 5 offer; Ohio and Cincinnati are potential suitors, too.
The Wildcats are in a bit of a tighter situation at linebacker, so look for them to offer a few more players at the position in the near future. Two of the players who held Northwestern offers have already committed. One name to keep an eye on is Jack Sanborn out of Lake Zurich, Illinois. A high three-star, Northwestern is battling Wisconsin and some others for his services at inside linebacker. Khalid Jones II out of South Carolina also holds an offer.
On the outside, the lone uncommitted target is Cameron McGrone out of Lawrence Central in Indianapolis. He has been rising up recruiting boards and boasts a long list of offers that includes several Big Ten schools, so expect Fitzgerald to offer some more prospects if he can’t reel in the talented outside linebacker.
Again, Fitzgerald and his staff are in the early stages here, so expect more offers to go out eventually. Trevon Moehrig-Woodard is a high three-star out of Texas whose last week or so has garnered offers from Northwestern, Oklahoma State and Stanford. Trent Gordon, also out of Texas, recently added an Oregon offer to his impressive list. Gordon is a really physical player who can lay the lumber in the running game, and at 6-foot-0, brings good length to the position. Elisha Guidry could also be a name to look for. Northwestern and Oregon State are his only two offers thus far.
With both of its starting safeties graduating after the 2017 season, Northwestern will be looking to bring in some talent at the position. California product Elyjah Doyle holds four Power 5 offers (Boston College, Utah, Washington State are the others) and is a top-50 prospect in the Golden State. Greg Newsome could be a name to keep an eye on, too. He’s from Glenbard North (Justin Jackson and Jace James’s alma mater) and is close with wide receiver prospect Micah Jones because of their connection through BOOM. In the past month, Newsome has picked up six offers, three of which have come from Big Ten programs.
Three-star Evan Stewart is “warm” on Northwestern, per 247. He has a solid offer list with several potential suitors from the Big Ten and ACC. Rounding out the group is unranked safety Christian Morgan out of Porter, Texas. A fantastic athlete, Morgan’s lone FBS offer is from Northwestern.
The “athlete” term is put on someone who plays multiple positions and could do so in college, too. The Wildcats have offered four such players: four-star Thomas Booker, who has 17 offers and is projected to be a Wolverine, three stars BJ Hanspard and Jaylan Franklin and unranked Charlie Mangieri.