A Look at Northwestern’s 2016 Signing Class

Northwestern football kicked off 2016 with their signing day, welcoming a recruiting class of 20 student athletes.

EVANSTON IL - NOVEMBER 14: during the second half on November 14, 2015 at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

“Every year this is an exciting day for the future of our football family, but more importantly a transformational day for these young men and their families,” said Fitzgerald. “Each will contribute to our pursuit of a Big Ten championship on the field, and earn the best education in college football. Our staff has had the opportunity to get to know each recruit extensively over the last several years, and we look forward to welcoming them to Evanston this summer.”

This year’s class features 11 student-athletes on the offense and 9 on defense. And while most of these guys will not have an immediate impact, a few of them could turn into household names at Ryan Field in years to come.

Northwestern added notable depth to their already stellar defense, particularly on their defensive line. With Dean Lowry and Deonte Gibson having graduated, the Wildcats need to invest in a new crop of players to fill those sizable holes on the line.

The most notable of this group and fitting to the above description is Tommy Carnifax. Carnifax is the third highest rated member of the recruiting class, and looks similar in build to Lowry. Shoulder surgery will keep him out of spring practice, which may force him to redshirt this season, but Carnifax could be the future at defensive end.

The rest of the defensive linemen signed include Paddy Fisher, Jake Saunders and Alex Miller. Fisher is a 3-star recruit who passed on offers from Baylor and Wisconsin. The 6’2”, 225 pound Fisher could potentially see some time this year, while Saunders and Miller will likely redshirt.

They also brought in linebackers Mike Gooden and Jango Glackin, who both have outstanding speed for their size and could see time on special teams this season, but will likely see very little time on the field if the ‘Cats’ extremely talented linebacking corps stays healthy.

Perhaps the biggest get on the defensive side of the ball is Roderick Campbell Jr, a four-star prospect on Rivals. Although with Matthew Harris returning and Kyle Quiero likely seeing starting time at corner, Campbell Jr may have a year to fully develop before being thrown into action. Their other corner, Brian Bullock, will likely redshirt. They also signed strong safety Travis Willock, a three-star recruit who could play behind Godwin Igwebuike and Quiero in spots.

There doesn’t seem to be much immediate help coming from the offensive players signed, but some names to keep an eye on down the road. Quarterback Aidan Smith will almost definitely be a redshirt, coming in behind Clayton Thorson, Matt Alviti an a few walk-ons. Running backs Jeremy Larkin and Jesse Brown come into an already very crowded backfield, but Larkin, a three-star recruit, could be the running back of the future in a couple years when Justin Jackson graduates.

They brought four new players on to the offensive line, Gunnar Vogel, Jesse Meyler, Nik Urban and Cameron Kolwich. Despite the fluctuation in the offensive line last season and a number of graduating seniors, there are enough upperclassmen in the offensive line depth as it is. However given the fluid nature of the position last season, don’t be surprised if a few of these guys see some field time earlier than expected.

The Wildcats added the most offensive pieces to their weakest position group, wide receiver, with Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman, Ben Skowronek and Riley Lees, along with superback/wide receiver Eric Schoo. Skowronek is perhaps the most intriguing, a 6’3” target with a lot of speed and athleticism, and Lees is a quarterback who will likely be converted to wide receiver. But with so many questions at this spot going into the season, the competition should be wide open.

Even after a ten win regular season and an Outback Bowl invitation, there will still be plenty to improve upon in Evanston in 2016, with spring practice right around the corner. Fitzgerald and company are hoping this crop of players will help them achieve winning seasons like last year’s much more regularly.