football Edit

Hull fills critical running back need for Northwestern

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Evan Hull (MNFootballHub.com)

Evan Hull announced his commitment to Northwestern on Twitter on Monday night. So Jan. 28 will get listed on his Rivals player page as the date he became a Wildcat.

The running back from Maple Gove (Minn.) returned on Sunday from his official visit – a visit he rated a “10” – and decided to pull the trigger and commit the following day. It’s all very neat and tidy, and a sequence of events that has happened countless times to countless recruits in the past.

But don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. The truth is, Hull has been a Wildcat for more than a week. He was “a silent commitment” on Jan. 19, the day after he received his offer from Northwestern, and his weekend official was just to confirm a choice that had already been made.

Hull spilled the beans to WildcatReport on Sunday night, the day he returned from Evanston, on the condition that it not be made public until his official announcement.

“After the visit now I feel better about my decision,” he said. “I plan to announce my commitment (Monday) night.”

And that's exactly what he did.

Hull is the first running back in Northwestern’s 19-member class and addresses a critical recruiting need. The Wildcats lost running backs Solomon Vault and Chad Hanaoka to graduation and, most significantly, sophomore star Jeremy Larkin to a medical retirement.

That leaves them with only four scholarship running backs on the spring roster, a concerning number when you consider that the Wildcats used a total of six backs last season, when the position was hit hard by injuries.

Hull was not one of the Wildcats’ A-list running back targets for the 2019 cycle. They went after four-stars Austin Jones (Stanford) and Jirehl Brock (Iowa State); and three-stars Aaron Young (Rutgers), Nathaniel Peat (Stanford) and Ainias Smith (Texas A&M) before offering the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Minnesotan. Hull collected 18 total offers, but Northwestern and Kansas State were his only two from Power Five programs.

But don’t let those facts tarnish your opinion of Hull. Isaiah Bowser, who just completed a sensational freshman year and led the Wildcats in rushing, wasn’t a top-tier recruit for the Wildcats, either. And Northwestern was the only Power Five school on his offer list when he committed in June of 2017.

Hull will add some speed to the Wildcats’ backfield. His best time in the 100 meters is 10.7 seconds, and he reportedly ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at a Northwestern camp last summer. He is a decisive, one-cut type of runner who plants his foot in the ground and then hits the jets to get upfield in a hurry.

Hull rushed for 1,915 yards and 19 touchdowns for Maple Grove in 2018, according to MNFootballHub.com.

"(NU running backs coach Louis Ayeni) told me countless times that he is most impressed with my toughness as a runner, my track speed, and my home run-ability," Hull told WildcatReport before his visit. "These are the things that I would say put me in the running to earn an offer, as well as my performance at camp in the summer."

Hull's relationship with Ayeni, who was also a running back from Minnesota once upon a time, played a large role in Hull's decision process. Ayeni started recruiting Hull when the coach was still on the staff at Iowa State, so the two have had a relationship for well over a year. Not surprisingly, Hull said that the highlight of his weekend official visit was a one-on-one meeting with Ayeni, when the two of them were just "talking ball."

Barring an unforeseen development, Hull may be the last high schooler to join Northwestern’s 2019 class, which is currently ranked 49th in the nation by Rivals. However, the Wildcats are still evaluating some graduate transfer possibilities according to sources, so they may not be done adding players for next season.

Hull identified Northwestern as his favorite very early in the recruiting process, calling the school "a perfect fit." He had to wait a while -- the Wildcats didn't start recruiting him in earnest until October and he didn't get his offer until mid-January -- but he couldn't be more excited the way his recruiting process worked out.

"I'm fired up to be part of the family!" he said via text message.