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Four-star Texas DE Ashton Porter picks Northwestern

Ashton Porter is the third four-star defensive end in Northwestern's 2023 class.
Ashton Porter is the third four-star defensive end in Northwestern's 2023 class.

Northwestern's star-studded 2023 class added another marquee name on Saturday when four-star Texas defensive end Ashton Porter announced his commitment to the Wildcats.

Porter is the third four-star in Northwestern's class, which was ranked fifth in the nation before Porter went public with his decision. Amazingly, all three of those four-stars are defensive ends, where the Wildcats have stockpiled an impressive array of talent.

Porter, Michael Kilbane and Mason Robinson form as deep a trio at the position as any class in the nation. And the Wildcats are still in the running for yet another four-star DE: Adepoje Adebawore, the No. 116 player in the nation and the younger brother of NU star DE Adetomiwa Adebawore, is reportedly down to Northwestern and Oklahoma.

When its finalized, the 2023 defensive end crop will join incoming four-star freshman Anto Saka, the highest-ranked player in the 2022 class, to leave the Wildcats stacked with guys who can rush the passer. Big Ten quarterbacks beware.


2023 CLASS: Commitments l Team Rankings l Official Visitors

MAY/JUNE OFFICIAL VISITORS TO COMMIT TO NORTHWESTERN: DT Tyler Gant l OL Jordan Knox l DT Dylan Roberts l DE Michael Kilbane l OL Alex Doost l CB Cole Shivers l CB Joshua Fussell l LB Justin Cryer l DE Mason Robinson l S Damon Walters l TE Camp Magee


Porter, a 6-foot-3, 236 pounder from Cypress (Texas) Cypress Ranch, chose Northwestern after collecting 32 offers. He had offers from all of the Power Five conferences, and six major programs in his home state of Texas: Baylor, Houston, SMU, TCU, Texas Tech and, yes, even Texas. He visited programs like Alabama and Miami.

But Porter only needed one official visit to make up his mind. He traveled to Northwestern on the fateful May 13-15 weekend and knew he would be a Wildcat by the end of it.

Porter initially intended to announce his commitment at the Under Armour All-American Game in the first week of January of 2023, but decided recently to move it up to today.

Porter is the latest prospect from Northwestern's first official visit weekend in May to pull the trigger. The Wildcats hosted 13 uncommitted prospects over those three days, and Porter is the 10th one to commit to the program. That’s a 77% success rate that any program would envy.

It didn't hurt that one of those official visitors who committed was Justin Cryer, a three-star Texas linebacker who also happens to be Porter's cousin. The two wanted to be a package deal and play together at the next level, so once Cryer committed on May 22, Northwestern's chances with Porter got a big family boost.

They now hope that same family boost pays dividends with Adebawore.

Porter is an impressive prospect, and explosive combination of size and speed. He had 44 tackles and 19 TFL for Cypress Ranch playing end in a three-man front last season. He won the defensive line MVP at the Dallas Rivals Camp Series in April and earned an invitation to the prestigious All-America Game.

He holds a 3.95 GPA at Cypress Ranch, a big reason that Northwestern held so much appeal.

He also built a strong bond with defensive line coach Marty Long, who has put Northwestern players Earnest Brown IV (Rams), Joe Gaziano (Chargers), Tyler Lancaster (Green Bay), Dean Lowry (Green Bay) and ifeadi Odenigbo (Browns) in the NFL in recent years. That proven track record was not lost on Porter.

"Coach Long knows how to get players in the league," he told WildcatReport last month. "He knows what to do to develop me."

Long sees Porter as a defensive end who can also be moved inside to tackle, especially on passing downs, where he can go up against guards who are typically not as quick or athletic as offensive tackles.

Porter told us that he felt like a top priority for Northwestern throughout the process. He talked almost daily with some combination of Long, head coach Pat Fitzgerald, defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil and area recruiter Lou Ayeni. O'Neil's film work during his official visit, comparing Porter to the 49ers' Arik Armstead, really hit home. Long and Ayeni took a trip down to Houston to visit him just a couple days after his official to make sure they knew how much he was wanted in Evanston.

That message was received loud-and-clear. The coaches' efforts paid off on Saturday.