If you haven’t been keeping track, Northwestern has had one of its best recruiting stretches ever since the end of the NCAA’s dead period — which began alongside the pandemic — at the start of June. Today, the ‘Cats’ Class of 2022 got even better with the commitment of two-way lineman Austin Firestone, a consensus three-star recruit from Niceville, Fla. He slots at 440th nationally among the class in 247Sports’ composite rankings. Firestone’s commitment to NU over other final contenders Virginia and Vanderbilt was announced via a video published by the Northwest Florida Daily News
His ranking suggests that he’s the second most highly-touted prospect of Northwestern’s current class, jumping recent commit Trevon Howard and slotting in behind wide receiver Reggie Fleurima.
While he’s listed as an offensive tackle by both 247Sports and fellow recruiting-focused site Rivals, Wildcats Daily reports that he was recruiting exclusively to play on the defensive side of the ball by Northwestern’s coaching staff, perhaps due to the 43 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks he accrued while playing only eight of Niceville High School’s 11 games in his junior season.
His presence off the edge could inspire fear in opposing offensive linemen and quarterbacks, as he possesses both the speed — as evidenced by his 4.86 second 40-yard dash time — and physique — as shown by his ability to squat 435 pounds — to pose a real threat off of the edge.