Pat Fitzgerald and his staff have been busy. In the past week, Northwestern has offered nine 2019 prospects, in an attempt to fill in a recruiting class that is already eight members strong. Here’s a look at some positions Fitzgerald has been targeting over the past couple weeks.
Finding a quarterback
Northwestern lost its 2019 quarterback when Cade Millen decommitted last month (He has recently committed to Oregon). In wake of Millen’s decommitment, Northwestern has offered three 2019 quarterbacks. Here’s a look at the newest prospects:
Jacob Zeno is a highly-sought-after pro-style quarterback from San Antonio. He’s ranked as the No. 14 pro-style quarterback in the country and a high three-star by 247Sports.com. ESPN has him as a four-star. The rising senior has drawn interest from some high-caliber programs, like NC State, Baylor and Georgia. Indiana and Rutgers are the only other Big Ten schools after Zeno.
For a high schooler, Zeno has an incredibly accurate arm. Seriously. Check out the accuracy on his intermediate and deep passes.
His pocket presence and ability to throw on the run jumps out on his tape as well. 247Sports.com has Zeno listed as “warm” on Baylor, Georgia, NC State and Texas Tech, so Northwestern is up against some tough competition, but this would be a big get for the Wildcats.
Zach Calzada is another highly-regarded pro-style quarterback. A three-star prospect from Buford, Ga., Calzada has offers from Minnesota, NC State and Pittsburgh, among others, and he’s been gaining a lot more attention in the past few months thanks to a growth spurt. After showing out at the Under Armour All-American Camp in Charlotte, Calzada earned his three star ranking.
He’s got a big arm, and Northwestern earned his attention by being among his first Power 5 offers.
Last up is Davis Beville. Besides having a great first name, Beville has an outstanding 6-foot-6 frame and runs an impressive 4.80 40-yard dash.
Hailing from Greenville, S.C., Beville is a three-star prospect and a top-30 pro-style quarterback, but he remains under-recruited. Northwestern, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are his only major offers. He was the section player of the year in 2017 and accounted for 44 total touchdowns.
Beville’s tape displays good arm strength and mobility, but the armchair scout in me sees his long release and wonders about his ability to get the ball out quickly under pressure. Nonetheless, you can’t teach size or speed, and Northwestern would be happy to have him in the program.
Some BIG offensive linemen
The Wildcats already have two offensive tackle commits for the 2019 class, but Fitzgerald and offensive line coach Adam Cushing are not satisfied. Northwestern offered two massive offensive tackles this past week in Walter Rouse and Jimmy Christ. Rouse is a D.C. native, and at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, he’s generated some serious regional interest with Maryland, Virginia, and Pittsburgh after his services. Michigan State, Duke and Wake Forest are also after the three-star tackle. Christ’s recruitment has picked up recently, with offers from North Carolina, Vanderbilt and Duke. He’s also a behemoth of a prospect at 6-foot-7 and 270 pounds. Northwestern is also after Texas tackle Preston Wilson, who got a firsthand look at Ryan Fieldhouse recently.
The Wildcats usually carry about four linemen per class, so expect Fitzgerald and Cushing to grab at least one more commitment.
Looking at the 2019 class, tight end Thomas Gordon represents the only offensive skill position player in the group. Northwestern is trying to change that, offering running back Kenan Christon and wide receivers Donovan Ollie and Deonte Simpson in the past week.
Northwestern is hot in pursuit of four-star in-state prospect Jirehl Brock, but Christon is a option as well. Hailing from San Diego, Christon has a ton of outstanding offers, including Stanford, USC, and Alabama. He’s lightning fast — according to his Twitter, he runs a 10.58 100-meter dash. Northwestern has a lot of running back depth stacked up for the foreseeable future, but Christon could bring something new to the table with his game-breaking speed.
Ollie and Simpson are both from Texas, with Ollie hailing from Wylie and Simpson from Beaumont. Ollie is the higher-regarded recruit — a three-star with offers from Boston College, Iowa State and Utah. He’s a tall outside receiver who uses his size well to gain leverage on the edge, though he needs to put on some weight. Simpson is a smaller pass-catcher, and his speed and shiftiness (check out the hurdle in his highlight tape) project as a Jelani Roberts-esque slot receiver at the next level. Northwestern has only had three combined true wide receiver commits in the 2017 and 2018 classes, so finding some solid pass-catchers is important for Pat Fitzgerald.