Just a few weeks after the NCAA’s COVID-induced recruiting dead period was lifted, Pat Fitzgerald has added another three prospects to Northwestern’s Class of 2022, with defensive end Denis Jaquez, defensive back Robert Fitzgerald and athlete Octavian Smith Jr. all committing to the ‘Cats on Wednesday. The newly-announced Wildcats, each considered three-star recruits by 247Sports, join six other commits in what is currently considered by 247Sports to be the 33rd best class in the nation and the tenth best in the Big Ten.
Jaquez was the day’s first commitment and also its highest ranked. Slotted at 863rd in the entire 2022 class in 247Sports’ Composite ratings, the 6-foot-4 New Jersey native held offers from Texas A&M and Virginia Tech — as well as Big Ten foes Rutgers and Maryland — among others. He posted 25 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in 2020 en route to earning Second Team All Star honors from local publication The Press of Atlantic City.
I’m 110% Committed!!!! #gocats @coachfitz51 @CoachJimONeil @DLCoachLong @NUFBFamily #AGTG pic.twitter.com/whD0bUzXLa— Denis Jaquez Jr (@jaquez_denis) June 23, 2021
Fitzgerald (no relation to the beloved NU coach), who hails from the talent-laden state of Texas, joined in next. Like Jaquez, Fitzgerald — the 139th best recruit this cycle from his home state, according to the aforementioned 247Sports rankings — had his fair share of big-name Power Five offers, with Baylor, TCU, Virginia Tech, Mizzou and countless other programs seeking his talents.
Committed ⚪️@NUFBFamily pic.twitter.com/z5omo6OynT— Robert Fitzgerald (@Robert_Fitz18) June 23, 2021
Closing out the day was Smith Jr., who was a duel-threat quarterback and cornerback in high school and isn’t nationally ranked by 247Sports despite garnering three-star status from the outlet. He boasts a 4.3 second 40-yard dash time in his Twitter bio and had offers from Duke, Vanderbilt, Syracuse, Maryland and Pittsburgh among other, mid-major conference schools.
Next chapter: From the 301 to the Chi-Town GoCats! #AGTG @CoachJimONeil @coachfitz51 @NUFBFamily pic.twitter.com/K1mZJKEooy— Octavian C. Smith Jr. (@yeahtay5) June 23, 2021
NU will look to add another member to its Class of 2022 when sought-after IMG Academy safety Trevon Howard makes his commitment on Friday.