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Northwestern Football 2019 Recruiting Update: Who’s next?

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Chances are Northwestern will land some verbal commits this month.

Purdue v Northwestern Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Recruiting season is upon us.

With the 2018 Northwestern football team in the midst of spring practice, this is the time when Pat Fitzgerald and his staff will look to build the meat of their 2019 recruiting class. Last season, NU entered March with two commits and added five in the month.

This year, the 2019 class already has three commits: LB Bryce Gallagher, QB Cale Millen, and TE/SB Thomas Gordon. Nothing is guaranteed, but I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet that that number will have grown by the end of this month, with more coming in April.

Here’s an update on some of the players Northwestern is going after. You can check out a full list of 2019 players with NU offers here.

“Warm” targets

The following seven players are listed as having warm interest by 247 Sports. That’s not a perfect measure, but it’s generally pretty reliable in at least indicating that a player is seriously considering a school. Other players mentioned in bold do not have that designation, although that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t interested in NU.

Bryce Benhart, 4-star OT, Lakeville, MN

Northwestern has offered seven 2019 offensive tackles, four of which are four-star recruits. The offensive line as a whole is a major area of need for this class, with three of the five projected starters in 2018 being seniors. Among the offered tackles, there are two four-stars that seem like non-zero possibilities. Trevor Keegan, from Crystal Lake, IL, is one. Northwestern was his first college offer, nearly two years ago, and while he has since picked up offers from basically the entire Big Ten and schools like Oklahoma and Georgia, you’d figure the Wildcats still have a chance. Keegan is the top player in Illinois and is visiting Ohio State this weekend, so he’s definitely a longshot. Perhaps a more realistic target for a major splash OT commit is Benhart. Minnesota and Wisconsin look like the top two for the 6-foot-7 tackle, but Northwestern, Iowa State, and UCLA are also listed as “warm.” The Wildcats haven’t landed a four-star offensive lineman since Patrick Ward in the class of 2009.

Preston Wilson, low 3-star OT, Argyle, TX

Wilson, a far more low-key prospect, fits the profile of most of Fitz’s OT recruits. His only other P5 offer is from Kansas. Northwestern did add a pair of tackles in the 2018 class, Payne He’Bert and Sam Stovall, but more bodies are needed.

RJ Oben, three-star DE, Jersey City, NJ

Northwestern has offers out to eight uncommitted defensive ends in the 2019 class. 247 lists Duke, Virginia, and NU as the top three for Oben, so he seems like a strong possibility. He also has offers from six of the eight Ivy League schools, so academics are clearly a priority. This would be a solid get. Another name to watch at DE is three-star Josiah Miamen from Dunlap, IL. He attends the same high school as 2018 superback signee Charlie Mangieri, so that could be a benefit. Miamen picked up a Northwestern offer just a couple days ago and is also considering Illinois. The Wildcats signed six in-state guys in 2018 (and crushed the Illini), so it will be interesting to see if they can follow that up in this cycle.

DeWayne Carter, high three-star DT, Pickerington, OH

Carter is a bit undersized for defensive tackle at 6-foot-3, 270 pounds, but is drawing a lot of Power Five attention. Joining Northwestern as schools listed as “warm” on his 247 page are Notre Dame, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Pitt. Fitz didn’t snag a single DT in the 2018 class, and only walk-on Joe Spivak was a true DT in the 2017 class. With Jordan Thompson graduating after this year, NU will certainly want to add a player or two at that position in 2019. Godwin Igwebuike is also from Pickerington, although not the same high school.

Kane Patterson, four-star OLB, Nashville, TN

This is one of those where the warm interest designation probably doesn’t mean much. Other schools listed as warm are LSU, Ohio State, and Alabama. So...yeah. Hey, you never know! Maybe Patterson was thoroughly impressed by what he saw in the Music City Bowl and wants to play in purple. MAYBE.

Jestin Jacobs, three-star OLB, Clayton, OH

This guy seems like a much stronger possibility. Northwestern has recruited Ohio very well in recent years, and Jacobs’ other warm schools are Iowa, Purdue, Cincinnati, and Kentucky.

Roderick Heard, low three-star CB, Farmington, MI

Heard picked up an offer from NU a week ago, but securing a commitment from him won’t be as easy as his low-profile ranking might suggest. That’s because he already had an offer from Michigan. Another CB to watch is Bolingbrook’s Cameron Mitchell. He’s an important in-state guy to secure.

Other positions

Running back: Northwestern already has its 2019 QB in Millen, so let’s go right to the RBs. With John Moten IV, Jeremy Larkin, and Jesse Brown all having at least two more years of eligibility and a pair of 2018 signees on board in Isaiah Bowser and Drake Anderson, this isn’t necessarily a major position of need. Still, it would be nice to add an RB to this class. Three-star Wandale Robinson from Kentucky could be a possibility. If you want to think big, Austin Jones is a four-star, top-100 overall recruit from California who apparently noticed the career Justin Jackson had in Evanston.

Wide receiver: Fitz has offers out to ten 2019 wide receivers. He generally likes to grab at least two per class, but the lone 2018 signee at wideout is Jacob Jefferson from Houston. That, plus the impending graduations of Flynn Nagel and Jalen Brown, would seem to indicate that Northwestern will try to snag several in this class. Rashee Rice, Cornelius Johnson and Taj Davis are names to remember.

Offensive guard: In addition to the seven tackles, Fitz has also offered four guards. Four-star Will Putnam used to play his ball in Illinois, but moved to Tampa and is probably going to Miami or Ohio State. Zach Carpenter, a 6-foot-5, 310-pounder out of Cincinnati, would be an excellent get. On the lower end of the spectrum, Conrad Rowley looks like a strong possibility.

Safety: There’s a new era at safety beginning in Evanston with Igwebuike and Kyle Queiro gone. Fitz signed Jeremiah McDonald in 2018 but likely wants to add another safety in this class. On Wednesday, Northwestern offered Texas native Jonathan McGill, a high three-star recruit who is forecasted by many to go to Stanford. He’d be an awesome guy to land. Other possibilities are three-stars Corien Azema (TX) and Kyle Hamilton (GA), and unranked Alabama safety Justin Harris.

We’ll keep you fully updated on any and all 2019 commits this month and beyond.