Jordan Thompson Jared Thomas Joe Gaziano Trent Goens Nathan Fox Simba Short John Moten Cameron Green Adam Lemke-Bell Tommy Vitale Montre Hartage Flynn Nagel Charlie Fessler Trae Williams Jelani Roberts Alonzo Mayo Steven Reese Andrew Otterman Lloyd Yates Jacob Murray
Following a relatively quiet offseason, Northwestern's football program will welcome members of its 2015 recruiting class to the program on Feb. 4 for National Signing Day. Even with de-commitments from some of the Wildcats' top targets, Pat Fitzgerald and co. still managed to put together a solid class. As of now, Northwestern's crop of new talent ranks 47th nationally, according to 247 Sports, the same rank they had last year. We'll be putting out player capsules like these in the lead up to National Signing Day so you can learn more about this new bunch of Wildcats.
Alonzo Mayo is one of two players out of Gilman School headed to Evanston this year, as Jelani Roberts, a 5-foot-8 WR, committed to Northwestern as well. Mayo’s recruiting profile isn’t exactly hair-raising. With offers mostly coming from FCS schools and the Ivy League, Northwestern was always going to be in the drivers seat in getting the cornerback to commit. 247Sports reported that Mayo had an offer from Vanderbilt, but both Rivals and ESPN don’t have the Commodores among the teams competing for Mayo’s signature.
According to an interview with 247Sports’ Chris Emma, the big pitches for Mayo were the education and the commitment of Roberts, his teammate and friend. Said Mayo, "Well it was a no-brainer for me and my family. You get a top-notch education and can play football at the highest level. You can’t beat that. Plus I’ve been close friends with Jelani Roberts since we were kids, and with him already being committed, I didn’t hesitate to do the same."
You can see in Mayo’s recruiting tape that he played safety a lot in high school, but it’s hard to imagine him playing there at the next level unless he seriously bulks up. There aren’t a whole lot of 5-foot-10 safeties who are household names. Mayo also clearly played a good amount at corner though, so there shouldn’t be too much of an adjustment period going from centerfield to the corner outfielder spots.
Even despite his height, if there’s one thing that sticks out from the highlight reel, it’s that the dude can hit. It’s pretty impressive to see a fairly small guy lighting up ball carriers like that, even if they are just high-schoolers. Northwestern’s cornerbacks, while they might sometimes get lost in coverage, are all pretty sure tacklers, and Mayo looks to be in that same vein.
NU had a bunch of guys play cornerback at one time or another last year. With Dwight White and Daniel Jones both having to retire, and with Nick VanHoose, Matt Harris and Marcus McShepard going down to injuries throughout the year, Kyle Quiero and Jarrell Williams logged serious snaps against Illinois at the end of the year. With those five all returning, plus Parrker Westphal coming back from injury after redshirting his freshman year, there is a pretty big log jam at cornerback. Mayo is going to have to impress on special teams before he can hope to jump over the more experienced (and for the most part more highly-touted) guys above him.
The hope for Fitzgerald and company may be for Mayo to develop into a Deante Battle-type player, who started three years at NU from 2005-2007, a serviceable cover-corner who could lay a lick on opposing wide receivers. In all likelihood, it will be at least two or three years before we see Alonzo Mayo getting in nickel and dime packages for the Wildcats.