Monday, February 9, 2009

Northwestern Recruiting

Today will start off the team-by-team breakdowns of the 2009 recruiting season.

I will be the first to admit that I am not an expert on recruiting. In these team breakdowns I will tell you who each school got and how they are projected by the experts. I will also give you my insight on who I think might make an instant impact, and how important each of the classes is to their school. I will start with the number 11th ranked team and work my way up to the top ranked Big Ten class.

The first team that I’ll be taking a look at is the Northwestern Wildcats.

When looking at the Wildcat’s class you can see why they were ranked at the bottom of the Big Ten. Northwestern wasn’t able to land a single ESPN 150 prospect and had zero recruits ranked 80 or higher.

There are three players that stand out in this Northwestern class. The first of which is quarterback Evan Watkins. Watkins has a body that appears to be college football ready. Watkins stands in at 6’6” and 230 pounds. Watkins went to Glenbard North High school in Illinois and committed to the Wildcats after his junior year, according to Northwestern wasn’t the only Big Ten school interested in Watkins. Iowa also made Watkins an offer. Watkins graded out as a 78 out of 100 and the 26th ranked QB in his class according to ESPN’s rankings. According to, Watkins is a three star prospect and the 63rd best quarterback in his class. Watkins probably won’t see the field immediately as 2008 back-up and part time starter Mike Kafka still has eligibility remaining but Watkins will definitely fixture into Northwestern’s plans sometime down the road.

The next prospect that deserves a closer look is the 6’5” 220 pound defensive end Davon Custis. Custis seems to have worlds of potential but is currently undersized in his 6’5” frame. According to, Custis is great at initially getting off the ball but needs to work on his strength. When looking over Custis’ tape he seems to have all the athleticism you would want for a pass rushing defensive end but it is clear that he will need to fill out before being able to compete at the division one level. Custis, being a four star prospect, was Northwestern’s most prestigious recruit. He was also’s 23rd ranked defensive end. Custis is a project that other big name schools were also willing to give a try as he gained offers and interest from such schools as: Boston College, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin.

And finally, that recruit that might have the best shot at getting early playing time is running back Arby Fields. Fields is a three star recruit out of Rancho Cucamonga, California. When viewing his highlight reel it is easy to see that he is slightly undersized (5’8” 187 lbs) but can still run with power. Fields, most likely, won’t step right in and fill the void left by Tyrell Sutton. But, Fields does show some upside and could be a nice weapon if Northwestern decides to use him on special teams. Fields is a three star recruit and the 81st ranked running back in his class.

Overall, Northwestern's class was ranked 10th out of the 11 Big Ten teams by But, because of the lack of size (18 commits) and zero ESPN 150 recruits I place them last in my Big Ten rankings.
All photos courtesy of


  1. Evaluating football recruiting is extremely difficult. Northwestern never recruits exceptionally, yet Pat Fitzgerald has done a remarkable job with his team. It seems to me that college football is much about getting the right guys that fit and having a strong coaching staff to make those players better--at least for the non-elite programs.

    The Floridas, Ohio States and Oklahomas of the world have it easy. They can get guys that anyone could judge to be of incredible talent. Teams like Northwestern must scour the country for underappreciated, overlooked talent.

  2. This is very true. Not to mention the academic standards that Northwestern holds itself to. I would say Northwestern has more student-athletes than athletes who simply just must attend class in order to play athletics.

    With all that said it is amazing to think about some of the talent that Northwestern has brought in over the years, or rather the talent they have developed.