Matt Alviti gave his verbal on Apr. 14, 2012. No one else joined until May, and that class sure ended up all right.
With an expected smaller class this season–likely between 15 and 17 pledges–the nucleus has already formed. It began with two quick, high-three star prospects, and then some distinctly "Northwestern" players followed suit.
Here are some notes from the first five, who are at the center of a class expected to be NU's best.
Klein Collins (Tex.)
December 15, 2012
"Ultimately, next year, we're continuing to move in the right direction. 10-3 is a great season, but all the guys there are shooting for greatness. Instead of the Gator Bowl, we can end up in the Rose Bowl."
As the above quote indicates, Thomas is unafraid of future success. The athletic safety joins the now-improved unit, which gained confidence with the strong performance of Jared Carpenter in 2012. He attended a pre-Gator Bowl practice in Evanston, and took just one day to accept his offer. Thomas was receiving interest from in-state schools–and likely would have received more–but everyone is forced to back off.
Wheaton North (Ill.)
March 17, 2013
"Success is definitely part of my decision, the momentum is great but I am also committed to the school and program. I'm just thrilled."
This one stands out. Thorson, who excels at both quarterback and wide receiver at Wheaton North, will enter fierce competition upon arriving at NU. Trevor Siemian likely has the starting spot locked down in 2014. After, Thorson and Alviti will look to seize the job. Granted, both will be used in some capacity. Pat Fitzgerald and his staff can't throw around scholarships, and the one who "loses out" could potentially see time at wide receiver.
Three-star safety/outside linebacker
Bergen Catholic (N.J.)
April 4, 2013
"It was the communication with the coaches, the program on the rise … It all sold me."
Cameron Queiro expects to move to outside linebacker for his college career. He can succeed in coverage, but also brings the requisite physicality. This linebacker corps appears destined for a great deal of future success. Drew Smith and Joseph Jones are poised to break out. Queiro, who joins his brother Kyle in Evanston, will continue the trend. He's an exciting athlete who continues the Bergen Catholic-to-Northwestern pipeline— a huge asset to this program.
Three-star offensive tackle/defensive tackle
Avon Lake (Ohio)
April 6, 2013
"Everyone's been telling me the whole time: it starts from the top. Every single part of the staff is great, and they all respect [Coach Fitzgerald]… He's one of the best coaches I've talked to when it comes to player development."
Oxley committed to NU following the open spring practice at Ryan Field. He is the Tyler Lancaster of this class, as he will begin at defensive tackle. The team can exploit the versatility and athleticism of some tackles better on defense, so why not? The offensive line–regardless of whether he is a part of it–looks set for several years under Adam Cushing. Oxley heavily considered academics in his decision, and was especially sold by players from his hometown, including Deonte Gibson and Geoff Mogus.
Unranked running back
April 18, 2013
"I love the people. I love the players. I love where the program is at, so it's easy choice for me."
Once everyone finally realized just how intriguing of a prospect Solomon Vault was, he fell off the board. Vault held offers from Tennessee and Nebraska, among others, but loved his weekend visit and quickly arrived at his decision. Vault, at 5-10, 190, arrives to a loaded depth chart at running back–even with the eventual departure of Venric Mark and Mike Trumpy. He could see time in the slot, and is the most recent addition to the class.