The mid-winter purple pickings checked in as somewhere between satisfactory and promising for Northwestern football on National Signing Day 2009.
In all, the Wildcats landed five players from the Chicago area, headlined by four-star offensive tackle Patrick Ward of Providence Catholic in New Lenox. The 6-7, 290-pound rookie is the first four-star player signed by the Wildcats since defensive end Loren Howard in 2001.
Others on the list of locals include: defensive end Anthony Battle of Mount Carmel, quarterback Evan Watkins of west suburban Glenabrd North, running back Mike Trumpy of Wheaton North and linebacker Tim Riley of Oswego.
''Our focus always begins and ends with Chicagoland and we are thrilled with the commitments we received from our local student-athletes,'' said Fitzgerald, who led the 9-3 Cats to the Alamo Bowl in his third season as head coach last fall. ''We also tapped into some of our other rich recruiting pipelines, most notably Ohio, where we signed four players.''
The four players from the Buckeye State include: defensive end Davon Custis (Gahanna/St. Francis De Sales), DE-linebacker Tyler Scott (Warren/Howland), offensive tackle Brian Smith (Medina/Walsh Jesuit) and linebacker Will Studlien (Sunbury/Big Walnut). Their addition
brings the number of Ohio products on the current NU roster to 13. That is the second-highest from any state, trailing only Illinois (34).
Of the other nine Northwestern signees, four enter the program designated as offensive players including: running back Arby Fields (California; Alta Loma/Los Osos), wide receiver Drew Moulton (Michigan; Freeland/Midland), guard Taylor Paxton (Colorado; Centennial/Cherry Creek) and superback John Plasencia (Florida; Tampa Jesuit).
Four more will enter their freshman pre-season listed as defenders including: safeties Davion Fleming (California; Upland) and Cooper Gerami (Louisiana; Lafayette/ St. Thomas More) plus linebackers Roderick Goodlow (Texas; Dallas/W.H. Adamson) and Damien Proby (Nevada;
North Las Vegas/Cheyenne).
The lone specialist signed by Fitzgerald was place-kicker Jeff Budzeinof Arrowhead High School in Hartland, Wi