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Northwestern 2021 football recruiting update: Still on the hunt for a wide receiver

The train is still chugging along.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Since the last recruiting update two weeks ago, Pat Fitzgerald & Co. have snagged two new commitments to bring the total to 13 for the class of 2021.

With the most recent announcements from offensive guard Jackson Carsello and safety Garner Wallace, Northwestern currently holds the Big Ten’s ninth-ranked class and 33rd best-recruiting class in the nation, according to 247Sports.

NU, whose recruiting classes typically don’t exceed more than 19 players, still has a handful of spots it needs to fill as they round out this class. The NCAA recently extended the mandatory recruiting dead period through August 31 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which means recruits won’t be allowed to take official visits to Northwestern, and coaches won’t be able to see prospects play in-person all summer.

However, the coaching staff has been busy on the virtual recruiting trail, having received commitments from all but one of its 13 recruits during the dead period, so it remains to be seen if the extension will slow things down at all.

With that in mind, here’s where NU stands

The search for a wide receiver

Wide receiver is a position of need for Northwestern. After losing Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen, their lone wideout commit in the class of 2020, to Purdue, NU has made wideouts a point of emphasis for 2021. Yet, excluding Donnie Gray who was recruited as an ATH, they’ve come up empty so far, and as a result, handed out two new offers in the past week.

Drew Donley is a speedy, 6-foot-2 wide receiver from Frisco, Texas. 247Sports ranks him as a three-star prospect but doesn’t give him a composite rating, and his offer list includes Ole Miss, Cincinnati and Boise State. As a junior, Donley caught 45 passes for 641 yards and eight touchdowns. Speed is in his genes; as a sophomore, he posted times of 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash and 10.57 seconds in the 100-yard dash. He’s the son of former Ohio State star receiver Doug Donley, who was nicknamed ‘White Lightning.’

Northwestern doesn’t have an abundance of speed on the outside, and wide receivers coach Dennis Springer and offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian are looking to increase that.

Jacob Gill is another three-star wide receiver that the ‘Cats are chasing. The North Carolina product put together three phenomenal seasons of high school football having already accumulated over 2,000 yards receiving and 27 touchdowns. Gill has offers from multiple Power 5 programs including the likes of Louisville, NC State, and Wake Forest, though experts think he’s apt to stay close to home.

While neither player has imposing size, their good hands and shiftiness are comparable to that of a Riley Lees-esque slot receiver at the college level.

A B1G offensive line

Jackson Carsello was the third offensive line commit in a talented group that consists of four-star tackle Caleb Tiernan and three-star guard Josh Thompson. However, Kurt Anderson is on the hunt for one more, and recruiting services seem to think Jack Leyrer is the most likely option.

The Dallas native stands at an impressive 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds. Fifteen Power Five programs offered him, but NU is in the mix with Baylor, Vanderbilt and Stanford. Leyrer recently took a visit to a barren Northwestern campus to get a feel for the school and the facilities, according to WildcatReport, and he plans on making trips to other schools later this summer. It may be a while until he makes his decision.

You can view his junior year highlights below.

Starting the class of 2022

Northwestern handed out at least ten new offers to the class of 2022 in the past week, including six (!) to quarterbacks.

One offer of note went to pro-style quarterback Steven Angeli. The four-star attends Bergen Catholic in New Jersey, the alma mater of the Dickerson and Queiro brothers as well as Mike Bajakian.