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Northwestern football Signing Day profiles 2016: ATH Riley Lees

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Riley Lees brings some much-needed explosiveness to Northwestern's offense.

Photo: YouTube/CN100Sports

QUICK HITS

POSITION: Athlete
HEIGHT: 6-1
WEIGHT: 185
HOMETOWN: Libertyville, IL
HIGH SCHOOL: Libertyville
247 COMPOSITE RATING: ★★★ (.8507)
NATIONAL RANK: 831
POSITION RANK: 61
STATE RANK: 22
OTHER OFFERS: Army, Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Iowa, Miami (OH), Western Michigan  
MORE: 247 ProfileHudl Twitter

BACKGROUND

Lees was the 10th Northwestern commit in early June as a consensus two-star prospect, but his unbelievable senior season lofted him to a well-deserved three-star. Lees originally committed to Miami (OH), but when Northwestern offered, as he told Nate Atkins of ChicagoFootball.com, "I couldn't pass it up. I got the offer, and it's a dream school. I grew up watching them. They're 40 minutes from my house."

The 6-foot-1 Lees was an electric dual-threat quarterback at Libertyville, leading his team to a state championship appearance, as well as a 35-7 regular season victory over 2015 Class 8A champion Stevenson (high school of current freshman wide receiver Cameron Green). Lees’ terrific season earned him Class 7A All-State honors. His highlight video is arguably the most entertaining of any Northwestern commit and is absolutely worth a watch.

Although he throws a nice and accurate ball, it’s very likely Lees will be used as a wide receiver at Northwestern. As you can see from his senior highlights, he does the majority of his damage on the ground on designed quarterback runs. He amassed a total of 4,435 yards and 62 touchdowns his senior season and looked untouchable at times.

OUTLOOK

Lees is actually one of the few incoming freshmen who may not redshirt. The Northwestern offense is in dire need of some playmakers, especially the wide receiver corps, and Lees could fill a void that was clearly missing for the Wildcats in the 2015 season. Obviously the Big Ten will be at a different level than 7A football in Illinois, but Lees' talent is translatable to the next level. He’s explosive with terrific vision and has the speed to break into the secondary. The Football Daily Herald reported that as a junior, Lees ran a 4.46 40-yard dash, and one would think that time has gone down in the past year. Lees has the raw athletic ability to provide a spark for Northwestern's anemic offense, but he needs time to develop as a route runner and receiver before he sees the field in any meaningful capacity.