Northwestern’s class filled up yesterday, especially on the defensive end, with the national early signing period having arrived. We’ll be giving you a breakdown of the players that will be arriving in Evanston, finishing with the defensive line.
The Wildcats will return key cogs Sam Miller, Trevor Kent, and Jake Saunders, but that hasn’t stopped NU from adding four exciting young pieces to a deep and talented defensive line room.
POSITION: Defensive Tackle
WEIGHT: 295 pounds
HOMETOWN: Las Vegas, Nevada
HIGH SCHOOL: IMG Academy
247 COMPOSITE SCORE: .8704
NATIONAL RANKING: 604
POSITION RANKING: 50
STATE RANKING: 81
OTHER OFFERS: Oregon, Notre Dame, USC, Vanderbilt, Minnesota, others
Butler just announced his commitment to Northwestern, just days after taking his official visit. He was originally committed to Vanderbilt, and it is a nice flip for Fitz. The Las Vegas native attended IMG Academy in Florida for his junior and senior years of high school, and he plans to enroll early in Evanston in January. The defensive tackle had an impressive offer list that included some West Coast powerhouses, Notre Dame and other Big Ten schools.
Butler is exactly the big body up front that Marty Long will love to use as a run stopper on the interior. Having played at IMG, like current Wildcat Greg Newsome II, Butler has gone up against some of the most skilled and athletic high school players in the country. NU loses significant names up front like Joe Gaziano and Alex Miller, but there is plenty of two-deep talent and beyond waiting in the wings to challenge for those spots.
As Northwestern’s fifth-highest rated recruit in its 2020 class, it wouldn’t be totally surprising to see Butler battle for playing time, but with the likes of Trevor Kent, Jake Saunders, Samdup Miller, Joe Spivak and Jason Gold, who all saw time last year, it seems likely Butler will redshirt.
POSITION: Defensive End
WEIGHT: 220 pounds
HOMETOWN: Frankfort, Illinois
HIGH SCHOOL: Lincoln-Way East
247 COMPOSITE SCORE: .8573
NATIONAL RANKING: 893
POSITION RANKING: 45
STATE RANKING: 16
OTHER OFFERS: Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, others
McLaughlin hails from the same high school as current Wildcat defensive lineman Devin O’Rourke. He clocks in at 6-foot-7 and according to his 247sports scouting report, has impressive speed and the ability to not lose contain. It’s another local win (which Pat Fitzgerald loves) over multiple Big Ten West foes.
A redshirt seems likely here, especially considering that he needs to put on some weight before he battles in the Ryan Field trenches. He’s a similar height to O’Rourke, who redshirted his first year and appeared in just two games last year. O’Rourke was a touted four-star coming out of high school, and he also needed to add some weight when he got to Evanston. It seems like McLaughlin has a chance to become a real force in a couple of years.
POSITION: Defensive End
WEIGHT: 221 pounds
HOMETOWN: Clayton, Ohio
HIGH SCHOOL: Northmont
247 COMPOSITE SCORE: .8377
NATIONAL RANKING: 1490
POSITION RANKING: 72
STATE RANKING: 59
OTHER OFFERS: Michigan State, Minnesota, Indiana, Baylor, others
The Ohio-NU pipeline continues, and NU beats out more competing B1G programs for another defensive recruit. He committed in July, about a month after taking his official visit. It came down to Northwestern and Michigan State for Cameron, and he chose purple over green. His highlights show a quick release and perimeter quickness and length.
Like the other two defensive lineman in this recruiting class, a redshirt seems the most likely route. At 6-3, 225, Cameron will bulk up in his first couple of years in Evanston. Give it a couple of years, though, and this 2020 class could be headline names of a vintage Pat Fitzgerald defense. Cameron, like Butler, will be one of six newly signed recruits enrolling early.
POSITION: Defensive End
WEIGHT: 316 pounds
HOMETOWN: Groveport, Ohio
HIGH SCHOOL: Groveport Madison
247 COMPOSITE SCORE: .8594
NATIONAL RANKING: 836
POSITION RANKING: 54
STATE RANKING: 28
OTHER OFFERS: Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Indiana, Purdue
The Ohio-NU pipeline keeps on rolling. Edwards played offensive line in high school, but was recruited by Marty Long and will be slotted in on the inside upon arriving in Evanston. It appears as if NU is getting a strong personality too in Edwards.
The addition of Edwards and Butler to the defensive interior — both right around/over around 300 pounds — bodes quite well for the future of Marty Long’s unit. It seems as if Long loses a ton of talent every year, and this offseason won’t be an exception with Joe Gaziano and Alex Miller finishing their stints in NU uniforms.
We saw a few young prospects like Tommy Adebawore and Jason Gold Jr. mix into the rotation this year, and I would expect the same from Edwards and Butler in 2020. Their sheer size should give them ability to compete and make an impact right away if necessary.