Northwestern pushes defense in new signing class
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) Northwestern added a 20-player signing class on Wednesday that is heavy on defense as it tries to bounce back from consecutive losing seasons.
The class features sought-after defensive lineman Jordan Thompson. The Cincinnati native drew interest from Michigan State and Notre Dame, among others.
''He was a young man who was heavily recruited,'' Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald said. ''He's a very dynamic athlete who's played multiple sports.''
The class also includes two other defensive linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs. Linebacker Nathan Fox from Houston and defensive ends Joe Gaziano from Westwood, Massachusetts, and Trent Goens from Chino Hills, California, also will join the Wildcats.
The Wildcats were at best a middle-of-the-pack team in the Big Ten most of the major defensive categories last season.
Northwestern also added a late commitment from receiver Flynn Nagel, who had previously committed to Duke.
Fitzgerald said he isn't bothered by signing recruits who had committed to other schools. He said Northwestern contacts the other coaches in those situations.
''No, I have no problem with what we do,'' he said.
Fitzgerald's last two teams have gone 5-7, and the coaches have recruited while the team went through a unionization vote. Fitzgerald said that while that had affected his team, it hadn't hurt recruiting.
''We educated the young men on what the situation was, what the true facts were, and then throughout the whole process just (being honest) with them,'' he said.
Top 25 Class: No. Rivals.com ranks Northwestern's class 55th in the country and 11th in the 14-team Big Ten.
Best in class: Jordan Thompson, DL, Cincinnati.
Best of the rest: Charlie Fessler, WR, Erie, Pa.
Late addition: Flynn Nagel, WR, Lemont, Ill.
One that got away: Zach Allen, DL, New Canaan, Conn.