EVANSTON, Ill. -- One month removed from completing a 10-win season, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald announced Wednesday (Feb. 6) the addition of 21 newcomers to the Wildcats football program for the 2013 season -- 19 inked to National Letters of Intent along with two walk-ons admitted during the early decision process.
Among Fitzgerald's 19 signees, 10 are slated to find a home on the offensive side of the ball, with eight on defense and one on special teams. Sixteen of the 19 signees hail from either Illinois (5), Ohio (5), Texas (3) or California (3), with the remaining three coming to Northwestern from Pennsylvania (1), Florida (1) and New Jersey (1).
"I'd like to sincerely welcome our 19 signees and two walk-ons to the Northwestern Football family, and also thank our great coaching staff for their months of hard work leading up to this day," Fitzgerald said. "We as a staff are confident we've signed a group of young men who are tremendous fits for our program athletically, academically and socially. These 21 individuals are joining a program with a lot of momentum and I look forward to the contributions they'll make toward helping us achieve our goals in years to come."
The 2013 Signing Class will restock a Northwestern program that graduated the winningest class in NU football history following the 2012 campaign, a group of 25 seniors that helped lead the Wildcats to bowl appearances each of their five years on campus.
Watch: Coach Fitz on the 2013 Signing Class
Next fall, Northwestern will return eight starters on offense, seven on defense and its three primary specialists from a 2012 squad that finished 10-3 with a win over Mississippi State in the 2013 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl on New Year's Day.
Signing Class Notes
The positional breakdown for this year's class is as follows: defensive backs (4), offensive linemen (3), running backs (3), linebackers (2), defensive linemen (2), wide receivers (2), quarterbacks (1), specialists (1), superbacks (1).
Ten of NU's 19 signees served as team captains for their high school programs.
Of the 19 signees in this year's class, 17 gave verbal commitments to Northwestern prior to the start of their senior year in high school.
This year's class breaks a string of three straight years in which Northwestern had signed a set of high school teammates. The Wildcats did reunite two former teammates, however, bringing in Bergen Catholic product Kyle Queiro to join rising his former Eagles' teammate, rising NU sophomore Cameron Dickerson.
Northwestern once again tapped its reliable pipeline of recruits from the Houston area, with SB Jayme Taylor (The Woodlands) and WR Macan Wilson (Kinkaid) becoming the latest to come to NU from the Houston metro region. Notable Houston products to enjoy successful careers with the 'Cats include David Nwabuisi, Omar Conteh and Kevin Mims and current Wildcats Christian Jones and Will Hampton.
6-0 - 185
Park Ridge, Ill. Maine South
Projected Position: Quarterback
High School: Ranked the No. 7 overall prospect in Illinois and the eleventh-best dual-threat QB recruit in the country by Rivals.com ... Ranked as a four-star recruit and the No. 22 quarterback nationally by Scout.com ... Won 2010 Class 8A Illinois State Championship as a sophomore ... Three time CSL Conference Champions ... Compiled 33-4 record in 3 years playing varsity ... Earned letters in football, basketball, and track ... Compiled 9,750 career passing yards, 85 passing TD's, 2,040 career rushing yards, 43 rushing TD's, 128 total TD's, and had a 65.3% completion percentage ... Earned 2010 All-State Honors from Chicago Tribune ... Awarded 2010-2012 CSL All-Conference and All-Area ... Named 2011-2012 CSL Conference Player of the Year on offense ... Named 2012 Offensive Player of the Year in State of Illinois ... Listed on 2012 All-State Team by Chicago Tribune and Illinois Coaches Association ... Competed in Semper Fi All-American Game ... Named to 2010 and 2012 Academic All-State Team ... Earned 2012 Scholar Athlete Award in CSL ... made Dean's List all four years.
Personal: Born Matthew James Alviti ... Son of Jim and Rose Alviti ... Anticipated major is communications.
High School: Ranked the No. 50 overall tackle prospect nationally by Scout.com and No. 56 by Rivals.com ... Named to Division II All-Ohio First Team ... Earned first-team All-Conference honors in the Chagrin Valley Conference ... Named to All-District First Team ... Voted as the teams' best offensive lineman ... Helped lead Kenston Bombers to their first playoff win in 17 years ... Invited to compete in the North/South Ohio All-Star game ... Played football and basketball all four years and was a team captain in both sports ... Competed on the track team for two seasons ... Recipient of the West Point Leadership Award ... Honor Roll student and member of the National Honors Society.
Personal: Born Samuel Howard Coverdale ... Son of Tate and Keira Coverdale ... Both parents were athletes at Vanderbilt -- father played golf and mother played soccer ... Plans to major in engineering.
6-4 - 185
Mokena, Ill. Lincoln-Way East
Projected Position: Wide Receiver
High School: As a senior, accumulated 1,522 rushing yards with 8.4-yard average and 1,123 passing yards ... Named to Illinois High School Coaches Association All-State First Team ... Earned All-State First Team according to Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times ... Named to EdgyTim/Rivals All-State First Team and SWSN All-State First Team ... ESPN/Nike highest scoring QB in the nation ... First-team All-Area according to Joliet Herald and Southtown Star ... Lincoln-Way East's all time leading rusher ... Team was state runner-up in 2012 after 13-1 season and was ranked No. 1 by MaxPreps after regular season ... Also played baseball for four years ... Honor Roll Student and Scholar-Athlete Award recipient in 2012 season.
Personal: Born Thomas John Fuessel III ... Son of Tom and Eileen Fuessel ... Major is undecided.
5-11 - 180
La Grange Highlands, Ill. Lyons
Projected Position: Cornerback
High School: Rated as the No. 22 overall recruit in the state of Illinois by Rivals.com ... Ranked as the No. 85 WR recruit nationally by Scout.com ... Played three years of varsity football for Lyons, twice earning first-team All-State honors ... All-Area MVP ... Three-time All-West Suburban Silver Conference ... Helped Lyons reach state quarterfinals in three straight seasons ... Also a four-year letterwinner in track and field, placing second in Illinois 3A in long jump ... Team captain in both football and track and field.
Personal: Born Matthew Lewis Narvell Harris ... Son of Tina Harris and the late Russell Harris Sr. ... Major is undecided.
6-0 - 190
Pickerington, Ohio Pickerington North
Projected Position: Running Back
High School: Ranked as a four-star recruit and the No. 22 safety prospect by Scout.com ... Rated as the No. 39 `athlete' nationally by Rivals.com ... Selected as the 2012 Collegiate Sports of America PrepStar Player of the Year for Central Ohio ... Finalist for Mr. Football award in talent-rich Ohio ... Named AP first-team All-Ohio, Columbus Dispatch All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year ... First-team OCC-Ohio Division ... Led Pickerington to a 12-2 record, a Regional 3 DI championship and an appearance in the state semifinals ... Racked up 1,985 rushing yards as a senior with 29 touchdowns and 15 catches for 179 yards ... Defensively, recorded five interceptions -- including one pick-six -- to go with 79 tackles and two forced fumbles.
Personal: Born Godwin Igwebuike ... Son of Leo and Ebony Igwebuike ... Major is undecided.
6-4 - 260
Mount Carmel, Pa. Mount Carmel
Projected Position: Defensive Line
High School: Ranked as the No. 73 defensive tackle prospect in the country by Scout.com and the No. 29 defensive tackle from Illinois by Rivals.com ... Versatile performer for Mount Carmel, playing multiple positions on the offensive and defensive lines while seeing time at tight end, fullback and H-back ... Over his junior and senior seasons, recorded 141 tackles (46 TFLs), 14.5 sacks and 23 QB hurries ... As a senior, caught nine passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns while recording 13 rushes ... Two-time first-team AP All-State selection in the AA division (D-line) ... Heartland Conference All-Star team selection ... News-Item Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 and a first-team All-Area choice ... Named Defensive Lineman of the Year by Press Enterprise ... Named to WNEP Super 16 Dream Team and chosen to participate in Pennsylvania Big 33 all-star game ... Team won a district championship (12-2) in 2011 and was runner-up in 2012 ... Also was a district medalist in the discus, and as a swimmer was a two-time district qualifier in the butterfly ... Member of the National Honor Society and a distinguished honor roll student throughout his career.
Personal: Born Eric Michael Joraskie ... Son of Nancy and William Joraskie Jr. ... Held lead roles in high school musical productions of "Grease" and "Godspell" ... Major is undecided.
Shorewood, Ill. Minooka
Projected Position: Offensive Line
High School: Recognized as a second-team All-State performer by Chicago Tribune and first-team All-Area by Joliet Herald News ... Rated as the No. 32 overall prospect in the state of Illinois by Rivals.com ... Ranked as the No. 62 offensive guard nationally by Scout.com ... First-team All-Conference ... Named to CSN Chicago's 2013 Top 30 ... Helped lead team to state quarterfinals in 2010 and a return trip to the playoffs in 2011 ... Team captain ... Honor Roll student for all four years ... Also wrestled and competed in track and field for Minooka.
Personal: Born Blake Patrick King ... Son of Patrick and Paula King ... Uncle played fullback for Michigan.
Romeoville, Ill. Plainfield East
Projected Position: Defensive Tackle
High School: Ranked as the No. 6 center prospect nationally by Rivals.com, and No. 10 by Scout.com ... Rated as the No. 15 overall recruit from Illinois by Rivals.com ... Named All-Area team by Herald News ... Named first-team All-State by Chicago Tribune ... Competed in Offense-Defense All-American Bowl ... Named 2012 Offense-Defense Scholar-Athlete of the Year by All-American Bowl ... Did not surrender a sack in three years of varsity football ... Academic All-State honoree ... Honor Roll student and member of the National Honor Society.
Personal: Born Tyler Coatney Lancaster ... Son of Brad and Bonnie Lancaster ... Plans to major in engineering.
Union City, Calif. James Logan
Projected Position: Running Back
High School: Named 2012 Northern California Player of the Year by San Francisco Chronicle, Tri City Voice and NorCal Preps ... Ranked as the No. 52 RB recruit nationally by Rivals.com, and No. 91 by Scout.com ... Team MVP ... Racked up 400 rushing yards in James Logan's second-round NCS playoff game against Freedom High defense ... Part of the first Logan team to go to NCS championship since 1998 ... Also ran track in high school ... Principal's Honor Roll student.
Personal: Born Warren Miles Long ... Son of Warren Long and Jose Valdez-Long.
University Heights, Ohio Cleveland Heights
Projected Position: Cornerback
High School: Ranked as the No. 69 cornerback recruit nationally by Rivals.com, and the No. 50 recruit overall from Ohio ... Rated as the No. 119 cornerback prospect by Scout.com ... Earned honorable mention All-State honors in Division I and was an All-Area selection by the Sun Press ... Named Cleveland Heights' defensive MVP in 2012 with 56 tackles, eight interceptions and six defensive touchdowns ... Also had 751 kickoff return yards and one kick return for TD ... Led the Tigers to first playoff appearance in school history ... Also a sprinter for Cleveland Heights track team, owning the school record in the 60-meter dash ... Won a national championship in the 4x100 (39.9) competing for the Cleveland Express Track Club ... Member of National Honor Society and an honor roll student for six straight years.
Personal: Born Marcus A. McShepard ... Son of Maurice and Lisa Board-McShepard ... Attended same high school that produced NU and NFL defensive line great Barry Cofield ... Plans to major in mechanical engineering.
Valencia, Calif. Sierra Canyon
Projected Position: Running Back
High School: Ranked as the No. 105 RB recruit in the country by Scout.com ... Named Sierra Canyon's Offensive MVP in three different seasons (2009, 2011-12) ... Three-time first-team All-Alpha League selection, earning 2012 Alpha League Player of the Year honors as a senior ... Named to the All-CIF Southern Section East Valley Division Calpreps All-State Team ... Played in Daily News Area All-Star game and Prepstar All-Star game ... In 2011, helped Sierra Canyon to a 15-0 record and a Division IV state championship ... Also lettered four years in track and field and participated in the Junior Olympics in the long jump and 4x100 relay ... Honor roll student ... Earned CIF Southern Section Academics/Integrity/Athletics award.
Personal: Born Xavier Robert Menifield ... Son of Robert and Annette Menifield ... Father played offensive guard at UCLA ... Majoring in economics.
High School: Rated as the No. 12 place-kicking prospect in the nation by Scout.com ... Named first-team All-Ohio Division III by the AP ... NUC All-American game invitee ... Played and served as captain in the Thanksgiving All-Star game for North Ohio ... Named to All-Area All-Star Team by the Akron Beacon Journal ... As a freshman, kicked 35-yard field goal into driving sleet to win game and send team to the state playoffs for the first time in school history ... Broke state record for most consecutive made PATs at 111 in 2012 ... Owns the longest made field goal in school history (53 yards) ... Also lettered three years in soccer and two in basketball ... Honor Roll student.
Personal: Born James Hunter Niswander ... Son of Scott and Andree Niswander ... Majoring in engineering.
Allen, Texas Allen
Projected Position: Offensive Line
High School: Ranked as the No. 9 center prospect in the country by Rivals.com, and No. 13 by Scout.com ... Rated as the No. 95 overall recruit from talent-rich Texas ... Earned second-team All-State honors in 2012 and was a two-time all-county and all-district performer ... Ranked No. 3 in Dave Campbell's Top 10 Texas Offensive Lineman and No. 55 in Texas Top 100 ... MVP at Nike Football Training Camp (March, 2012) ... Won two bidistrict championships and a 5A Division I state championship, the second title in school history ... Team captain ... Also a three-year letterwinner in shotput ... Honorable Mention Academic All-State and a member of the National Honor Society ... Recipient of President's Scholar and Eagle Scholar Award.
Personal: Born Bradley Addison North ... Son of Ron and Kristen Kinnard ... Attended same high school as J.D. Walton, center for the Denver Broncos ... Competed alongside fellow signee Tyler Lancaster in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl ... Interested in studying history and education.
High School: Ranked the No. 53 athlete recruit in the country by Rivals.com ... Rated as the No. 17 prospect overall coming out of New Jersey ... Ranked the No. 57 safety recruit nationally by Scout.com ... Named to the MSG Varsity All-State & All Metro Team ... Recorded eight tackles and two interceptions for a combined 61 yards in a single game ... Played in the State Championship game three consecutive years ... Achieved academic First Honors ... Also named All-County triple jumper and high jumper ... Also lettered twice as a guard on the Crusader's basketball team.
Personal: Born Kyle Christian Queiro ... Son of Henry and Kim Queiro ... Joins former high school teammate Cameron Dickerson on the NU roster ... Majoring in business and economics.
The Woodlands, Texas The Woodlands
Projected Position: Superback
High School: Ranked the No. 60 tight end prospect in the country by Scout.com ... Played both wide receiver and quarterback during his three years of varsity football ... As a senior, totaled 334 yards receiving (23 catches) and 341 yards passing, earning first-team all-district and all-county honors ... 2012 Class 5A Region 2 Elite Team (first-team offense) ... Named the Vype Magazine All-Greater Houston tight end ... Helped team to a 2010 district championship with 140 yards receiving on eight catches ... In 2011, key part of The Woodlands team that won a Region 2 5A championship, collecting 422 yards on 33 receptions with two touchdowns ... Team captain in football ... Also played three years of varsity basketball and helped team to a 32-4 record and regional semifinal appearance as a sophomore ... Member of Principal's Leadership Council in his senior year and was a Texas Boys State attendee ... Also a member of the National Charity Roundtable all four years of high school.
Personal: Born Jayme Ross Taylor ... Son of Rob and Terri Taylor ... Plans to study business at Northwestern.
High School: Played linebacker, wide receiver and defensive back in three years of varsity action ... Recorded 200 career tackles, eight interceptions, six fumble recoveries and five forced fumbles on defense ... Also averaged 14.0 yards per catch as wide receiver and had four TD receptions ... Two-time all-state honoree, earning first-team honors in 2012, and twice earned first-team all-conference distinction ... Competed in 2012 Nike Dade vs. Florida game ... Member of National Honor Society.
Personal: Born Anthony Laron Walker Jr. ... Son of Anthony Walker Sr. and Michelle Daniels ... Plans to study economics.
High School: Played linebacker, tight end and long snapper in three years of varsity action ... Won three straight CIF (conference) championships ... Compiled 417 tackles, 11 sacks, three interceptions and eight forced fumbles ... Averaged 25.3 tackles per game senior year ... Named to MaxPreps All-State team junior and senior year ... Earned Defensive MVP honors from RIO HONDO League and CIF ... Named to All-Area Team and the Defensive MVP by Pasadena Star News ... Ranked on ESPN Southern California First Team ... Played in 2013 West Coast Bowl ... Also lettered in track, specializing in the 400-meter dash ... Two-time Student-Athlete of the Year at Monrovia.
Personal: Born Russell Brett Walsh ... Son of Russell Walsh and Serena Snyder ... Plans to study engineering at Northwestern.
High School: Rated as the No. 34 RB prospect in the country by Rivals.com ... Ranked the No. 56 RB recruit by Scout.com ... Rated as the No. 24 overall recruit to come out of Ohio by Rivals.com ... Played four years of varsity football at Moeller, collecting 2,149 rushing yards, 28 career touchdowns -- second-most in Moeller history -- and averaging 6.9 yards per carry ... Also averaged 11.9 yards per reception on 42 career catches ... Named first-team All-Tri-State and was the Cincinnati Enquirer Co-Player of the Year ... Greater Catholic League (GCL) Player of the Year and first-team All-GCL on offense ... Team captain of 2012 state championship-winning squad ... Game highlights include 175 yards and three touchdowns on six carries in the first half alone against Lakota East, and 224 rushing yards on 22 carries with two TDs vs. LaSalle ... Competed in the Ohio North vs. South Invite ... Ranks second all-time at Moeller in career touchdowns and fifth in career rushing yards ... Also a four-year letterwinner in basketball and a member of the Cincinnati Lakers club team for eight seasons, winning three state championships with the program.
Personal: Born Keith A. Watkins II ... Son of Keith and Kathryn Watkins ... Attended same high school as former Major League Baseball stars Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin ... Interested in studying dentistry at Northwestern.
High School: Ranked the No. 181 wide receiver recruit in the country by Scout.com ... Recognized as Houston Touchdown Club Ironman Player of the Year in 2012 ... Named to the Houston Chronicle first-team All-Greater Houston, and first-team All-Greater Houston Private Schools, in 2012 ... Earned three straight first-team All-State honors (2010-12) ... Rated in the ESPN Top 150 WRs rankings ... Recognized by Texas Football Magazine as a Top 30 WR in 2012 ... Southwest Preparatory Conference Offensive MVP in 2012 ... Kinkaid's all-time career receiving leader with over 4,000 yards and 71 touchdowns ... Owns school records for longest kickoff return for a touchdown (102 yds) and longest touchdown run (97 yds) ... Invited to compete for Team USA in 2013 International Bowl ... Helped lead Kinkaid Falcons to two state championships (2010, 2011) ... Earned four varsity letters and was team captain for both the football and baseball teams ... Kinkaid's all-time home run leader ... Named as an Under Armour Pre-Season All-American for baseball in 2013 ... Three-time first-team All-State baseball player (2010, 2011, 2012) ... Four-year member of Student Governing Council.
Personal: Born Macan Fitzgerald Wilson ... Son of Lisa and Storm Wilson ... Interested in majoring in engineering.
High School: Three-year letterwinner in football, earning first-team All-Conference and All-Region honors ... Honorable mention All-State performer ... Named to the All-Area first team for offense by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ... Helped Bradford claim 2011 Division 1 Wisconsin State Championship with 14-0 record ... Also a four-year letterwinner in track for shotput and discus ... Earned SEC Athlete Award ... In the classroom, was an AP Scholar and honor roll student, graduating seventh in a class of over 500 students.
Personal: Born Graham Michael Bullmore ... Son of Michael and Beverly Bullmore ... Father earned PhD in Rhetorical History and Criticism from NU.
6-3 - 285
Darien, Ill. Hinsdale South
Projected Position: Offensive Line
High School: Two-time All-Conference and All-Area selection ... Earned All-Dupage County honors from the Daily Herald ... In 2011, helped program to first winning season since 2005 ... Three-year varsity starter ... Invited to play in ICA Shriner's All-Star Game... Earned school's Sportsmanship Award ... Captain of football and track and field teams ... Three-year letterwinner in track and field, earning All-Area honors for the discus ... AP Scholar ... Student Class Secretary ... National Honor Society member ... Earned Dean's List honors all four years and was both an Academic All-Conference and All-State honoree.
Personal: Born Zachary Jordan Guritz ... Son of Matthew and Rita Guritz ... Great grandfather, Don Guritz, was a three-year starter for Northwestern (class of 1940) and 99th pick in the NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers ... Plans to major in engineering.