NU FOOTBALL: WILDCATS WELCOME 18 DURING EARLY SIGNING PERIOD

EVANSTON, Ill. — Northwestern football welcomed 18 newcomers to the program as a part of the new NCAA early signing period on Wednesday morning. Complete biographical information can be found below.

The Wildcats officially added 16 scholarship student-athletes and two preferred walk-ons Wednesday, the first day that student-athletes enrolling next year could sign National Letters of Intent.

 

“We’re excited to officially welcome the newest members of our football family,” Dan and Susan Jones Family Head Football Coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “Our staff works tirelessly to identify young men that fit the culture of our program and our university, both on and off the field. The early signing period gives us a great opportunity for these Wildcats and their families to make it official as most have been committed to our program since last summer. The Northwestern brand is as strong as it has ever been and we can’t wait to get these men on campus as we continue to build towards a Big Ten championship.”

 

The 18 students will arrive in Evanston from across the nation, led by seven from Illinois, three from Texas and one each from Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina. The group, which includes 10 signees on offense and eight on defense, is headlined by four-star prospects Wyatt Blake, Khalid Jones, Devin O’Rourke and Jason Whittaker.

 

Northwestern finished the 2017 regular season 9-3 to earn an invitation to the 2017 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee. The Wildcats will take on Kentucky on Friday, Dec. 29 at Nissan Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

 

SCHOLARSHIP 

DRAKE ANDERSON

Running Back

5-11 / 180

Chandler, Az

Chandler High School

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on December 18, 2017 … Ranked as a three-star prospect and the No. 11 player in the state of Arizona by 247 … Rushed for 2,009 yards and caught 23 passes for 310 yards while scoring 37 touchdowns to lead Chandler to a 12-2 record and 6A Arizona State Championship in his senior season … Named Team MVP … Selected to the American Family Insurance All-USCA Arizona HS Football Team … Named All-Conference 6A Premier First Team and Offensive Player of the Year … All-Arizona Big Schools First Team … Ed Doherty Player of the Year Finalist … Ed Doherty Award Winner … Father Damien played for Northwestern from 1997-2001, was inducted to the Northwestern Hall of Fame in 2009 and held the program’s all-time rushing record with 4,485 yards until this season …  Honor roll student … Plans to major in economics at Northwestern.

 

WYATT BLAKE

Defensive Line

6-4 / 293

Crystal Lake, Ill.

Crystal Lake Central

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on March 17, 2017 … Rated a four-star prospect and the No. 20 guard in the nation by ESPN … Rated a three-star prospect and the No. 10 player in the state of Illinois by 247 … Two-time team captain … Four-year letter winner and starter … Named to the Max Preps Freshman All-American Team … Two-time All-Fox Valley Conference selection … Two-time First Team All-Area Northwester Herald … Sun Times All-Area Team … All-State selection … Plans to major in communication studies.

 

ISAIAH BOWSER

Running Back

6-1 / 205

Sidney, Ohio

Sidney High School

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on June 23, 2017 … Rated a three-star prospect and the No. 32 player in the State of Ohio by 247 Sports … Three-time letter winner and varsity starter … Team Captain senior year … Named 2017 Ohio Player of the Year by Touchdown Club of Columbus … Rushed for 2,695 yards, had 320 receiving yards and 32 total touchdowns in his senior campaign … Named First-Team All-GWOC North and GWOC North Offensive Player of the Year … First-Team All-State … Touchdown 7 Dream Team MVP … Totaled 503 all-purpose yards (413 rushing/90 receiving) and scored seven touchdowns in a game versus Xenia in 2017 … Finished high school career with 5,482 rushing yards, 695 receiving yards and 75 touchdowns … Two-time First-Team All-GWOC North … Twice named Sidney HS Team MVP and Offensive MVP … Two-time letter winner in basketball, averaging 8.4 points per game … Named First-Team All-GWOC as a sprinter in track and field during junior year … Holds Sidney High School records for single-season rushing yards, single-season rushing touchdowns, single-season total touchdowns, single-season carries, points scored in a season, single-season all-purpose yards, single-game rushing yards, single-game carries, single-game total yards … National Honor Society member … Honor roll student … Academic All-State … Plans to major in civil engineering.

 

PAYNE HE’BERT

Offensive Line

6-4 / 273

Pearland, Texas

Dawson

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on January 13, 2017 … Rated a three-star prospect by 24/7 … Three-time letter winner … 2017 Team Captain … Named First-Team All-District selection as a senior … 2017 Houston Chronicle and VYPE Top 100 … Helped lead Dawson High School to a district championship in 2016 … Two-time letter winner in basketball and three-time letter winner in power lifting … Also lettered in track and field … Honor roll student … Plans to major in economics.

 

JACOB JEFFERSON

Wide Receiver

5-10 / 165

Houston, Texas

St. Pius X High School

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on April 1, 2017 … Rated a three-star prospect by ESPN and 247 … Led St. Pius X to the TAPPS Division I state championship … Caught 76 passes for 1,216  yards and 19 touchdowns in his senior campaign … TAPPS 6A All-State selection … First-Team All-District … Three-time All-Academic honoree … Had 69 catches for 1,224 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior … Finished high school career with 183 catches, 3,111 yards and 43 touchdowns …  Attended the same high school as former Northwestern All-American Venric Mark and former Denver Broncos Head Coach and Super Bowl champion Gary Kubiuk … Honor roll student … Anticipated major is biomedical engineering.

 

KHALID JONES

Linebacker

6-1 / 225

Greenville, S.C.

Byrnes High School

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on June 14, 2017 … Rated a four-star prospect and the No. 12 inside linebacker by ESPN … Rated a three-star prospect and the No. 8 player in the state of South Carolina by 247 … Four-time letter winner … Two-time Team Captain … Tallied 61 tackles, one sack, four quarterback hurries, eight tackles for loss, one forced fumble, three pass breakups and one interception as a senior … Named Most Valuable Player of the NC/SC Shrine Bowl Game … 2017 All-Region and All-State selection … Wendy’s High School Heisman-School Winner … 2017 Butkus Award High School nominee … Made 115 tackles, including 14 for loss, had three quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two sacks and two pass breakups as a junior … 2016 All-Region and All-State selection … Spartanburg Herald All-Area Defense … Listed on ESPN’s top 300 juniors list … Helped lead team to a South Carolina 1A State Championship as a freshman … Earned Max Preps Football Freshman All-American honors … FNF South Carolina All-Class 1A Team … Adidas Freshman All-American … Honor roll student … Palmetto Boys State Senator … National Latin Honor Society member … National Junior Classical League and South Carolina Junior Classical Society … Intends to major in biology.

 

BRIAN KAISER

Superback

6-7 / 210

Wilmette, Ill.

New Trier High School

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on March 10, 2017 … Rated a three-star prospect, the No. 27 tight end and No. 16 player in Illinois by ESPN … Rated a three-star prospect and the No. 32 player in Illinois by 247 Sports … Two-time letter winner … Earned All-CSL South honors as a junior … Also earned a pair of letters in volleyball … Father Steve played Tight End for the Wildcats from 1980-83 … Academic All-State … Intends to major in economics.

 

ANDREW LEOTA

Defensive End

6-4 / 218

Asheville, N.C.

Asheville

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on March 31, 2017 … Rated a three-star prospect and the No. 20 player in North Carolina by ESPN … Rated a three-star prospect and No. 23 player in North Carolina by 247 … Finished high school career as Ashville High’s all-time sack leader … Recorded 56 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and seven sacks as a senior … Also caught 12 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns as a tight end … Earned WMAC All-Conference honors … Grandfather Jim earned medical degree from Northwestern.

 

CHARLIE MANGIERI

Superback

6-4 / 230

Peoria, Ill.

Dunlap

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on March 8, 2017 … Rated a three-star prospect and the No. 18 Tight End/H-Back by ESPN … Rated a three-star prospect and the No. 30 player in Illinois by 247 Sports … Four-year letter winner and starter … Three-time Team Captain … Made 24 catches for 351 yards and five touchdowns and recorded 108 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and six sacks as a senior to earn All-Conference, All-Area and All-State honors while leading Dunlap to a 13-1 record and runner-up finish in the 5A state championship … Also earned All-Conference and All-Area honors as a sophomore and junior … Named second-team All-Conference and honorable mention All-Area as a freshman … Brother PJ played football at Nebraska … Brother Nick played football at Indiana … Brother Luke played baseball at Bradley … Uncles Eddie Sutter (1988-91) and Danny Sutter (1992-95) played football for Northwestern … Honor roll student … National Honor Society member.

 

GRAYSON MANN

Linebacker

6-0 / 220

Fort Worth, Texas

Fort Worth All Saints

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on April 7, 2017 … Rated a three-star prospect by ESPN and 247 Sports … Made 71 tackles, 8.5 sacks, forced a fumble and had one pass break up to earn first-team All-State honors … Finished his junior campaign with 52 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery to earn first-team All-SPC accolades … Also earned first-team All-SPC honors as a sophomore … Finished his career with 234 tackles, 28 sacks, three forced fumbles and one interception … Honor roll student … Plans to major in psychology.

 

JEREMIAH MCDONALD

Defensive Back

6-3 / 187

Slidell, La.

Northshore High School

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on April 10, 2017 … Rated a three-star prospect by ESPN and 247 Sports … Four-time letter winner … Two-time Team MVP … Finished his senior season with 100 tackles, including 60 solo stops, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 10 pass breakups and one interception to earn first-team All-District honors … Named a New Orleans All-Metro finalist in 2017 … Made 51 tackles, intercepted six passes, blocked three punts, had five pass breakups and two fumble recoveries to earn first-team All-District honors as a junior … Led Northshore High to the state playoffs as a senior … Caught two passes for 106 yards and a touchdown, while making 10 tackles and two pass breakups versus St. Amant in the playoffs.

 

GREG NEWSOME II

Defensive Back

6-1 / 170

Chicago, Ill.

IMG Academy (Fla.)

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on April 3, 2017 … Rated a three-star prospect by ESPN and 247 Sports … Attended IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, after playing his sophomore and junior seasons at Glenbard North High School … Made 15 tackles, intercepted two passes and made 15 pass break ups to help IMG earn a 9-0 record … Record 85 tackles, 15 pass breakups and three interceptions as a junior at Glenbard North to earn first-team All-DuPage Valley Conference … Also earned first-team All-Conference honors as a sophomore after making 40 tackles with six interceptions and 13 pass break ups … Named honorable mention All-Area as a sophomore and earned All-Area honors as a junior … Academic All-Conference in 2015 and 2016 … Lettered three times in basketball, earning first-team All-Conference honors as a junior … Former high school teammate of current Wildcat wide receiver Jace James … Attended the same high school as Northwestern’s all-time leading rusher Justin Jackson … Honor roll student … Plans to major in economics.

 

DEVIN O’ROURKE

Defensive Line

6-6 / 241

Mokena, Ill.

Lincoln-Way East High School

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on March 10, 2017 … Rated a four-star prospect and the No. 33 defensive end in the nation by ESPN … Rated a four-star prospect and the No. 2 player in Illinois by 247 Sports … Three-time letter winner … Under Armour All-American … Finished his senior campaign with 80 tackles, 26 tackles for loss and 15 sacks … Led Lincoln-Way East to a perfect 14-0 record and IHSAA 5A state championship in 2017 … Earned IHSAA 5A All-State honors as a junior and senior … Made 95 tackles with nine sacks and 19 tackles for loss as a junior … Finished his high school career with 28 career sacks … Earned four letters in wrestling … Attended the same high school as current Wildcat defensive back Moe Almasri … Plans to major in civil engineering.

 

JAYLEN RIVERS

Linebacker

6-2 / 222

Decatur, Ga.

Grayson High School

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on June 2, 2017 … Rated a three-star prospect and Top-60 ATH by ESPN … Ranked as a three-star recruit and a Top-100 ATH in the class by 247 … Played safety, linebacker and wide receiver for the Rams … Competed for Cam Newton 7-on-7 … Three-letterwinner for the Rams track team … Honor roll student … Anticipated major at Northwestern is biology.

 

CHARLIE SCHMIDT

Offensive lineman

6-4 / 294

Libertyville, Ill.

Libertyville High School

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on March 5, 2017, the first member of the class from the state of Illinois … Ranked as a three-star prospect and a Top-50 offensive guard by 247 … Team captain for the Wildcats as a senior … Three-year letterwinner played offensive guard, offensive tackle and defensive line for Libertyville … Did not surrender a single sack over his final two high school seasons … Class 7A All-State, Two-time North Suburban Conference All-Conference … Two-time NSC Academic All-Conference … Chicago Tribune All-Area … two-time Daily Herald All-Area … Chicago Sun-Times All-Area … two time Libertyville Most Valuable Offensive Lineman … Helped lead ‘Cats to Class 7A state finals as a sophomore … Three-year letterwinner in wrestling, won Class 3A Libertyville Regional championship last year at 285 pounds .. Two-year letterwinner in track & field, competing in the discus and shot put … Four-year honor roll student … High school teammate of current Wildcats wide receiver Riley Lees.

 

 

JASON WHITTAKER

Quarterback

6-5 / 197

Rockford, Ill.

Rockford High School

 

Verbally committed to Northwestern on Dec. 10 2016, the first member of his class … Ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 24 pocket passer in the nation by ESPN …  Rated a three-star prospect, a Top-20 prospect in the state of Michigan by 247 … Ranked as a three-star prospect by Rivals … Captain of the Rams and three-year football letterwinner … Completed 60% of his passes for 1200 yards and 13 TD in an shortened senior campaign … OK Red All-Conference Honorable Mention … Offensive MVP of Team West 7-on-7 …Member of the All-State Academic Team … Also captained the basketball team and lettered in baseball for Rockford … Anticipated major at Northwestern is communication studies.

 

 

 

WALK-ONS

WILLY BOATMAN

Offensive Line

6-2 / 250

Denver, Colo.

Kent Denver High School

 

Four-year letter winner … Started all four years on offensive line, defensive line and as a long snapper … Two-time Team Captain … Earned CHSAA All-State honors on offense and defense as a senior … Six-Zero Strength and Orange Blue All-Colorado Team … Colorado Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year … Nominee for CHSAA Offensive Lineman of the Year … Blue Grey All-American invitee … ESPN All-American Invitee … Led team to the CHSAA 2A state championship game as a junior … Earned first-team All-Conference honors on offense and defense in 2016 … CHSAA first-team All-State … Mile High Sports Magazine and Six-Zero Strength All-Colorado Team … CoPrepReport Class of 2018 first-team All-State offense. … Helped team claim four-straight conference championships … Two-time state runner up … Father played football at Indiana … Grandfather played basketball at the University of Michigan … Uncle played football at Purdue …Member of the Student Leadership Committee and School Spirit Council … Elected as school’s student representative to the Board of Trustees for the 2017-18 school year … Sole student member of the Education Committee … Vice President of Student Union for Diversity Awareness … Earned three letters in lacrosse … Had scholarship offers to play Division I lacrosse … Plans to major in history or pre-law.

 

RAYMOND NIRO III

Wide Receiver

5-10 / 177

Barrington, Ill.

Barrington High School

 

Two-time letter winner … Two-year starting quarterback for Barrington High School … Compiled 3,658 total yards of offense and 44 touchdowns as a senior … Rushed for 2,043 yards and 30 touchdowns, while passing for 1,615 yards and 13 touchdowns … Also caught one pass for 39 yards and a score … Earned All-Mid Suburban League, Daily Herald All-Area, Chicago Tribune All-Area and IHSAA All-State First Team honors in 2017 … Led his team to a 9-0 record for the first tiem since 1998 and a MSL conference championship … Totaled 2,612 yards of total offense as a junior … Rushed for 1,402 yards and passed for 1,210 yards in 2016 … Named All-Conference and Daily Herald All-Area as a junior … Two-time Academic All-State … Invited to the Illinois All-Star Shrine Game … Averaged 10.5 yards per carry during his career … Two-time letter winner in basketball … Three-time letter winner in track and field … Mother Amanda played volleyball at Northwestern … Sister Ann plays soccer at Notre Dame … Sister Nicole played soccer at Auburn … Attended the same high school as current Wildcat punter Daniel Kubiuk and Rapolas Ivanauskus of the men’s basketball program … Honor roll student … National Honor Society member … Plans to major in journalism