The fax machine at the Nicolet Center will got its annual workout today, as all of Northwestern's 19 commits faxed in their signed national letters of intent by 9:45 a.m. Central time.
Head coach Pat Fitzgerald will formally introduce the new Wildcats this afternoon, but in the meantime WildcatReport breaks down the class:
Cracking the Top 50: In news that Fitzgerald will make a point of publicly scorning, Rivals currently ranks Northwestern's class 51st in the nation and eighth in the Big Ten. While those aren't exactly impressive numbers, they represent the best Fitzgerald has enjoyed in his seven years. Never before has Fitzgerald's classes been ranked higher than 53rd nationally (2007) or 9th in the Big Ten (2007, 2009 and 2012).
Seeing stars: For the third time in four years, Northwestern has landed a four-star signee in its class. Quarterback Matt Alviti or Park Ridge (Ill.) Maine South is the sole four-star in the Class of 2013. He follows Patrick Ward, Fitzgerald's first four-star recruit, in 2010, and Ifeadi Odenigbo and Greg Kuhar last year. While there is one less four-star at the top of this class, the 2013 group has more three-star depth than 2012. There are 15 three-star and just three two-stars this year, compared to 12 three-stars and seven two-stars last year.
State-us symbols: Illinois and Ohio were once again Northwestern's top recruiting states, as both states produced five prospects. The high school football hotbeds of Texas and California each added three, while Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida each added one.
Assume the position: Offensive linemen and athletes make up the bulk of this class, with four players falling into those broad position categories. Sam Coverdale and Blake King most likely project as tackles, while Brad North and Tyler Lancaster will play guard or center. The four "athletes" -- a recruiting term meaning that the player could play multiple positions -- are Tommy Fuessel, Matt Harris, Godwin Igwebuike and Kyle Queiro. It's unknown at this point where Fuessell and Igwebuike will play, but Queiro and Harris will start as cornerbacks.
Northwestern has three players listed as running backs in this class, but only two will play in the backfield at NU. Warren Miles Long and Xavier Menifield are the runners, while Keith Watkins will likely play corner. Marcus McShepard will also play cornerback for the Cats.
The Wildcats brought in a pair of oustide linebackers -- Anthony Walker Jr. and Brett Walsh, who ironically committed on the same day -- while the rest of the class is made up of one-offs. Alviti is the only quarterback, Macan Wilson the single wide receiver, Eric Joraskie the sole defensive tackle, Jayme Taylor the isolated superback and Hunter Niswander the solitary kicker/punter -- and the first since Jeff Budzien in 2009.
Start to finish: The Class of 2012's Malin Jones set the unofficial Northwestern first-commit record by pledging in October of the previous year, almost 16 months before signing day. While this class couldn't approach that standard, Alviti got the ball rolling on April 14, 2012, when he committed after the spring exhibition. The last to commit was McShepard, on Dec. 2. And, in case you were wondering, Northwestern has already gotten a jump on 2014 - Jordan Thomas, a safety for Klein (Texas) Collins committed on Dec. 15, 2012, almost 14 months before his signing day.
Early bird gets the recruit: Northwestern got the bulk of its work done early for this class, matching the accelerating pace of recruiting throughout college football. Seventeen of Northwestern's 19 commits (89.5 percent) gave their verbals before the start of the 2013 season. That's up from 16 of 21 (76.2) a season ago and 11 of 17 (64.7) in 2011. By contrast, the 2008, 2009 and 2010 classes had fewer than half its members by the first kickoff.
State's finest: Nine players from the class of 2013 are ranked among the best overall players in their states:
Matt Alviti, 6th in Illinois
Tyler Lancaster, 16th in Illinois
Kyle Queiro, 17th in New Jersey
Matt Harris, 21st in Illinois
Godwin Igwebuike, 28th in Ohio
Eric Joraskie, 29th in Pennsylvania
Blake King, 32nd in Illinois
Sam Coverdale, 42nd in Ohio
Marcus McShepard, 49th in Ohio
Nation's finest: Eight players are ranked among the best at their prospective positions nationally:
Tyler Lancaster, 6th at center
Brad North, 9th at center
Matt Alviti, 11th at quarterback
Godwin Igwebuike, 39th as an athlete
Warren Miles Long, 52nd at running back
Kyle Queiro, 53rd as an athlete
Sam Coverdale, 56th at offensive tackle
Marcus McShepard, 69th at cornerback
Reunited: Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic is already represented on the team by redshirt freshman wide receiver Cameron Dickerson, who will now be joined by former high school teammate Queiro. There could be more Crusaders on their way next year, as both Dickerson and Queiro have younger brothers who have Northwestern offers -- defensive end Garrett Dickerson and linebacker Cameron Queiro, respectively.
King Cush: Offensive line coach Adam Cushing takes home the Most Valuable Recruiting Coach title, bringing in five recruits (Coverdale, Fuesell, King, Lancaster and McShepard). Tight ends coach Bob Heffner (Alviti, Joraskie, and Queiro) and linebackers coach Randy Bates (Taylor, Watkins, and Wilson) were next with three each. Running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Matt MacPherson (Igwebuike and North) and defensive backs coach Jerry Brown (Menifield and Walsh) each brought two players to Evanston. Defensive line coach Marty Long (Walker Jr.), defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz (Niswander), offensive coordinator Mick McCall (Long) and receivers coach Dennis Springer (Harris) each landed one.
We are the champions:Two future Wildcats went out with a bang by capturing state championships in their final games. North and his Allen Eagles won the Texas title, while Watkins and Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller took the Ohio championship. From the close-but-no-cigar department, Queiro and Walsh both fell in the state championship games to finish as runners up.
Win some, lose some: Northwestern lost a rare commitment in this class, as defensive end Raymond Davison, who verballed to NU in October, had his offer pulled when he took an official visit to Cal. He wound up pledging the Bears two weeks ago. However, Northwestern's incoming group also gained a player who decommitted from another school. Fuessel had been a Northern Illinois recruit until Huskies head coach Dave Doeren started looking for other jobs. Northwestern offered Fuessel just days later and he committed to the Wildcats on Dec. 1, less than a week after his decommitment and, ironically, the day Doeren was announced as the new coach at N.C. State.