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Northwestern Football Early Signing Day Rundown: Tight Ends

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Fitz adds two more players to a position that needs clarity.

Kirsten Stickney for the Chicago Sun-Times

Northwestern will be getting its first batch of official signings today, as national early signing day has arrived. We’ll be giving you a breakdown of the players that will be arriving at NU, continuing with the tight ends (no more superbacks? Well, it’s unclear), as the class is officially devoid of wide receivers after Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen’s decomittment.

The Wildcats’ superbacks combined for single digit catches in 2019, Mick McCall’s final season with the program. Starting with this pair of recruits, Mike Bajakian will try to rejuvenate the position group, no matter what he ends up calling it.

Hunter Welcing

Quick Hits

POSITION: Tight End

HEIGHT: 6-foot-4

WEIGHT: 220 pounds

HOMETOWN: Lake Zurich, Illinois

HIGH SCHOOL: Lake Zurich

247 COMPOSITE SCORE: .8473

NATIONAL RANKING: 1188

POSITION RANKING: 55

STATE RANKING: 25

OTHER OFFERS: Western Michigan

MORE: 247 Sports | Hudl | Twitter

Background

Just a few weeks after committing to Northwestern, Welcing tore his ACL in a 7-on-7 tournament. He couldn’t play the majority of his senior season but came back for the end of the regular season and the playoffs, according to WildcatReport. A former hockey player who only got into football to hang out with friends and stay in shape for his season, Welcing joined the football team his sophomore year, according to an interesting profile by the Chicago Sun-Times. He’s known as a very athletic, pass-catching tight end. According to his Hudl page, he ran a 4.7-second 40-7 yard dash.

Outlook

With a new offensive coordinator, it will be interesting to see where and how these tight end-type players will fit in. Will the superback position stay the same, or will NU return to a traditional tight end position?

Mike Bajakian has emphasized the use of the tight end in the past, but he most recently said his Northwestern scheme will be tailored to the players around him and not vice versa. The tight ends/superbacks room at least seems wide open, as no one this season was able to fill Cam Green’s production from 2018.

Marshall Lang

Quick Hits

POSITION: Tight End

HEIGHT: 6-foot-4

WEIGHT: 225 pounds

HOMETOWN: Cincinnati, Ohio

HIGH SCHOOL: St. Xavier

247 COMPOSITE SCORE: .8434

NATIONAL RANKING: 1307

POSITION RANKING: 64

STATE RANKING: 54

OTHER OFFERS: Ball State, Toledo, Kent State, Furman

MORE: 247 Sports | Hudl | Twitter

Background

Northwestern was the only Power Five offer Lang received, and it didn’t come immediately for the Cincinnati native. When coach Tim McGarigle went to watch him play, he didn’t pick up an offer, but after he came to Evanston for a one-day camp in June, Fitz presented him with one, according to Wildcat Report’s Louie Vaccher. At that time, he was an unranked prospect with a .7898 composite rating on 247Sports. Since then, his rating has risen significantly, and he has vaulted to the 35th-ranked player in Ohio, according to Rivals. In an interview with First Star Football Report, he said the new facilities certainly helped him make his decision, but ultimately he fell in love with the coaching staff and people on campus.

Outlook

Unsurprisingly, it’s a very similar situation to that of Welcing, a similarly athletic and rated tight end. Bajakian talked about a clean slate and evaluating his scheme based on the talent he will soon become familiar with. Based on his track record of liking to run the football and wanting to play “smashmouth” style, it can be at least thought that the tight ends/superbacks will have significant blocking roles and also have the opportunity to make some plays.

For both Welcing and Lang, the most likely first-year route is a redshirt, since Fitz loves to use them, they can now play four games, and there are already four superbacks — Trey Pugh, Alex Oelsner, Thomas Gordon and Charlie Mangieri — listed on the roster. Pugh and Mangieri played most of the snaps last year and were the only ones of the group to register statistics, so they are most likely to repeat as the top options.