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National Signing Day: Northwestern football welcomes next crop of Wildcats to Evanston

David Braun’s first recruiting class features 15 players from the Class of 2024.

Ian Maule / ESPN Images

On Wednesday, 15 members of the Class of 2024 signed their national letters of intent to pursue their collegiate football careers at Northwestern. This recruiting class, the first under David Braun, ranks 96th nationally and last in the Big Ten, according to 247 Sports. The Wildcats could not land any four or five-stars this year, and they lost several other players in the wake of Pat Fitzgerald’s firing. However, a majority of the commits this year are three-star recruits. With all the players now officially committed, let’s get to know the 15 newest Wildcats.

Timi Oke – CB

The three-star cornerback will arrive in Evanston all the way from the NFL Academy in London, England. Oke is the 171st-ranked corner and the third-best recruit from England, according to 247 Sports. His only Power Five offer was from Northwestern, but the 6-foot, 171-pound prospect had offers from several other schools, including UConn and Bryant.

Oke is new to the football scene, having only begun playing at the NFL Academy in 2023. He spent most of his childhood playing soccer, and before switching to football he even had interest from the English Premier League’s Brighton & Hove Albion, according to ESPN. Perhaps his strongest trait is his speed, as he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash. His speed and agility will be a valuable asset for him as he continues to adjust to American football.

Matthew Smith – LB

The three-star linebacker comes to Northwestern from Hillside High School in Durham, North Carolina. Smith is the 179th-best linebacker in the nation and the 50th-best recruit in the state of North Carolina, per 247 Sports. The 6-foot-2, 208-pound commit chose to join the Wildcats, his only Power Five offer, over nearby Northern Illinois.

Smith runs a speedy 4.38 40-yard dash, according to his Hudl profile, and his speed assists his already strong ability to disrupt the pass rush and sack the quarterback. At 208 pounds, he could certainly benefit from bulking up a bit, but Smith is nonetheless an exciting talent that could play a large role on Northwestern’s defense in the coming years.

Callen Campbell – DL

Campbell, a three-star defensive lineman, treks south to Evanston from Sault Area High School in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. He ranks as the 112th-best defensive lineman in the nation, and the 22nd-best player from the state of Michigan, according to 247 Sports. Campbell did not receive a Power Five offer aside from Northwestern, but he was being recruited by other Division I schools like Army and Columbia.

Throughout high school, Campbell was highly praised for his versatility. At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, he contributed to his team not only as a defensive lineman, but also as a tight end and outside linebacker. He also brings with him incredible strength, having won two state championships in powerlifting, per his Hudl profile. Campbell could very well become a high-impact player for the Wildcat defense in the near future.

Braxton Strong – DL

Strong is a three-star defensive lineman making a short trip to Northwestern from Peru High School in Peru, Indiana. According to 247 Sports, he ranks as the 171st-best defensive lineman in the country and the 22nd-best overall player in Indiana. Though he opted to commit to Northwestern, Strong also garnered strong interest from schools like Colorado State, Central Michigan and Akron.

At 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, Strong boasts a similar stature to his future teammate Campbell, and that’s not the only thing they share in common. Just like Campbell, Strong also spent part of his high school career playing tight end. As a senior, Strong posted four sacks and seven tackles for loss, and he will look to build on that campaign during his first season as a Wildcat.

Sean Martin – S, ATH

The three-star safety/utility man will remain in the midwest, coming to Evanston from St. Ignatius High School, the Cleveland, Ohio football powerhouse. He is the 194th-best utility player in the nation and the 83rd-best player in Ohio, per 247 Sports. He opted to continue his football career at Northwestern over schools like Toledo, Akron and Eastern Michigan.

Martin is a special player in that he can excel anywhere in the secondary, whether coaches put him at safety or at cornerback. He also played running back throughout high school, though it is less likely that Northwestern will use him in that role. Martin is an athletic playmaker who has the potential to be a lockdown defender for the Wildcats if he develops correctly.

Idrys Cotton – OL

Cotton, a three-star offensive lineman, comes to Northwestern from Plymouth High School in Canton, Michigan. 247 Sports ranked him as the 84th-best interior offensive lineman in the nation and the 20th-best player in Michigan. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound recruit chose Northwestern over several other Power Five schools, including Colorado, Duke and Louisville.

Cotton is an intelligent playmaker who excels at pass protection. His large stature should also benefit him against opposing defenders. He is certainly one of Northwestern’s most exciting recruits in the Class of 2024, and, given his raw potential, there is no reason he cannot follow in the footsteps of the likes of Rashawn Slater or Peter Skoronski.

Terrion Hicks – CB

The three-star cornerback joins the Wildcats’ defensive unit from Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington, Kentucky. 247 Sports deemed Hicks the 181st-best cornerback in the nation and the 17th-best player from Kentucky. He had one other Power Five offer from Stanford, and several offers from schools such as Central Michigan and Miami (Ohio).

Hicks is exceptionally fast, posting a 4.4 40-yard dash. His speed, in combination with his elite coverage, will be invaluable to Northwestern’s secondary for years to come. There are some concerns about his size, as he is only 5-foot-11, 170 pounds. However, if he bulks up a little bit, he could become a staple of the Wildcat defense during his time in Evanston.

Troy Regovich – DL

Regovich is a three-star defensive lineman joining Northwestern after contributing to three consecutive state championships for St. Edward High School of Lakewood, Ohio. He is the 207th-best defensive lineman in the country and the 83rd-best player from Ohio, according to 247 Sports. Regovich opted for Northwestern over Kentucky, his other Power Five offer, and schools including Army, Eastern Michigan and Miami (Ohio).

At Northwestern, Regovich will reunite with his former teammate Michael Kilbane, who was one of the Wildcats’ most coveted acquisitions in the Class of 2023. Though Regovich is not as flashy of a prospect as Kilbane, who was the 53rd-ranked pass rusher in his class, he excels at defending the run, something Northwestern struggled with this season.

Dashun Reeder – RB

The three-star running back comes to Evanston from Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville, South Carolina. According to 247 Sports, Reeder is the 113th-best running back in his class and the 24th-best player in South Carolina. He picked Northwestern over several other competitive offers, including Georgia Tech, Cincinnati and James Madison.

The 6-foot, 190-pound running back is an explosive playmaker, averaging 6.8 yards per carry and 115 yards per game during a senior season that culminated in 25 touchdowns. Northwestern lacked a consistently explosive back during the 2023 season, and someone like Reeder could be exactly what the Wildcats need to revitalize the run game.

Ryan Boe – QB

The three-star quarterback will stay close to home, joining Northwestern from nearby Batavia High School in Batavia, Illinois. He ranks as the 90th-best quarterback in the country and the 37th-best player in Illinois, according to 247 Sports. Boe chose to continue his athletic career at Northwestern over offers from North Dakota State, Colgate and UPenn, including decommitting from the Bison to follow Braun.

In his senior season at Batavia, Boe threw for just under 3,000 yards. Additionally, he tossed 33 touchdowns to only three interceptions as he led Batavia to become the No. 5 team in Illinois following an 11-2 record. It is unlikely that Boe will see immediate action given Northwestern’s crowded quarterback room, but he is certainly someone to keep an eye on to potentially lead the Wildcats as he continues to progress.

Carson Grove – WR, ATH

Grove, a three-star wide receiver/utility man, is also staying put in the Chicago area, joining the Wildcat offense from John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights. 247 Sports lists him as the 191st-best utility man in the nation and the 48th-best player from Illinois. Northwestern was his only Power Five offer, but he received other offers from schools like North Dakota State, Navy and Yale.

Grove put up a monster season for John Hersey this year, with his 1,436 receiving yards leading the state of Illinois. His combination of flashy speed and crisp route-running make him a nightmare matchup for defenders. However, size could be an issue for the receiver, who is listed as 5-foot-10, 170 pounds. He will need to bulk up in order to physically compete with the top talent of the Big Ten. If he does so, Grove could end up being a total steal for the Wildcats.

Patrick Schaller – TE

Schaller is yet another Wildcat already familiar with the area. The three-star tight end hails from Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook. He is the 40th-best tight end in the nation and the 16th best player in Illinois, according to 247Sports — making him the highest-touted recruit in this year’s group. Schaller chose to remain close to home over other offers from Boston College and Central Michigan.

Schaller is a physical receiver who excels at making contested catches. And, at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, he is a physically dominant blocker who made it challenging for opposing defenses to pressure his quarterback. A talented receiver and blocker, Schaller has all the tools necessary to become one of the better tight ends in college football.

Hayden Eligon II – WR

The three-star receiver comes to Evanston from the west coast, playing for Los Alamitos High School in Southern California. According to 247 Sports, he is the 225th-best wide receiver in the nation and the 138th-best player from the state of California. Eligon II picked Northwestern over offers from several Power Five schools, including Arizona, California and Louisville.

Eligon II has an innate ability to get open and evade defenders, making him an easy target to target. Yet at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, he is also a physically dominant receiver who can make tough catches in traffic and break tackles. Eligon II’s physicality and knack for getting open should excite Wildcat fans throughout the next four years.

Tito Williams – S

Williams is a three-star safety arriving at Northwestern from Bradley Central High School in Cleveland, Tennessee. 247 Sports lists him as the 109th-best safety in the country and the 27th-best player from Tennessee. Williams had several other Power Five offers from schools like Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and West Virginia, but he ultimately chose to don purple for the next four years.

Williams is lockdown on defense, and he can keep pace with virtually any receiver he’s covering. Additionally, he’s effective on the blitz when needed, often able to pick up a sack or blow up a rush attempt. Look for Williams to develop into a player who could potentially anchor the Wildcats’ secondary during his upperclassman years.

Qayvier Johnson – LB

Johnson is a linebacker arriving at Northwestern from Hamden Hall High School in Hamden, Connecticut. Though he is a zero-star recruit, Johnson also received an offer from Big Ten rival Indiana and other Division I schools like UConn and Yale.

In his first season at Hamden Hall after his former high school cut funding for its football program, Johnson recorded 15 sacks and 60 total tackles. He is a skilled pass rusher, adept at blitzing through the offensive line. Johnson could be a fun guy to watch if that talent translates to his collegiate career.