Looking at NU Football’s Class of 2016

Pat Fitzgerald’s been awful busy the last week.

In three days between Sunday and Monday, Northwestern pulled 6 recruits, 5 of them 3-star commits and one 2-star.  Northwestern’s great long weekend has seen them climb into the top 30 of 247 Sports’ team recruiting rankings, above the likes of Notre Dame (37th), Nebraska (31st) and Texas (47th).  Sure there’s almost an entire year until until recruits have to sign on the bottom line, but it’s hard not to be excited with the class NU has this early in the signing period.

The 2016 class is already strong in the trenches.  4 offensive linemen have already committed (Nik Urban and Cameron Kolwich at guard and Gunnar Vogel and Jesse Meyler at tackle), already doubling the number of offensive linemen in NU’s 2015 class.  On the other side of the ball, NU has two commits in Tommy Carnifax and Alex Miller.

NU’s also added QB Aidan Smith after missing on Deuce Wallace (Vanderbilt) and Josh Jackson (Virginia Tech).  NU has a couple of cornerbacks in Brian Bullock and 4-star recruit Roderick Campbell Jr, and a linebacker in Jango Glackin (who had a Wisconsin offer).  In the skill positions, they have wide-receiver Ben Skowronek and QB/WR Riley Lees.

Already at this early point in Northwestern’s recruiting period, they’ve filled needs.  Going off of our projected depth chart, after this year Northwestern is set to lose a starter at left tackle and right guard with Geoff Mogus and Matt Frazier set to graduate and half of their starting secondary with Nick VanHoose and Traveon Henry entering their senior years.  The only other position where Northwestern is set to be significantly weaker in 2016 is on the defensive line, where Dean Lowry, Deonte Gibson, Sean McEvilly, CJ Robbins, and Max Chapman will all be gone.  The good news is that NU’s 2015 class has a couple of big signings with tackle Jordan Thomspon (who held offers from almost half of the Big Ten) and defensive ends Joe Gaziano (the top recruit from Massachusetts) and Trent Goens (who had offers from Cal and Miami FL).

Filling those holes early means that now Northwestern can focus on getting some skill positions into their class.  Tre Bryant, judging by the amount of chirp from NU commits, is high on NU’s wishlist, and NU appears to be high on his.  A 5-10, 195 running back, Bryant hails from St. Louis, the hometown of Roderick Campbell.  Northwestern will certainly be hoping that Campbell can do some recruiting of his own to get the 4-star RB into purple.  At wideout, NU offered 3-star Chicago prospect Quayvon Skanes about 2-weeks ago and, according to Wildcat Report, is aiming to make a commitment in the not too distant future.

On the defensive line, NU has extended offers to a few pie-in-the-sky targets including tackle Jovan Swan, who holds 7 Big Ten offers including one from Michigan State, and 4-star end Khalid Kareem, who’s deciding between, among others, Alabama, Michigan, and Ohio State.

The one knock on Northwestern’s recruiting class, if there is one, is that they don’t have a knockout recruit just yet.  Campbell is a 4-star with some impressive offers, but he doesn’t seem to be as impressive as a get as a Jordan Thompson or Clayton Thorson.  With about 7 months left until signing day, there’s plenty of time for NU to make a coup.

The last guys to commit are going to be skill position guys, so get ready for some flashy highlight reels.  One or two big recruits at running back and wideout could turn NU’s class from good to great.

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