Chicago Sun-Times
with Tina Akouris

Pat Fitzgerald discusses the 2012 signees

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Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald started Wednesday's signing day news conference by insisting "we will start and end our recruiting in Chicago."

Joliet Catholic running back Malin Jones highlights the class, and he is joined by fellow Chicago area natives Joseph Jones of Plano (safety) and Wheaton Warrenville South's Dan Vitale (superback).

But don't forget Rockford Boylan's Dean Lowry (defensive end) and USC transfer Kyle Prater, a wide receiver who starred at Proviso West.

Even though Rivals.com ranked the Wildcats' class ninth in the Big Ten, Fitzgerald didn't seem to mind.

"This is similar to classes we recruited in the past," Fitzgerald said. "They're a great fit on each front, and if you look to the [Dan] Persa class and the [Jeremy] Ebert class I think they turned out to be alright."

This is the most signees of Fitzgerald's tenure at NU and also the first since he signed a 10-year contract extension in May 2011. That contract extension was unprecedented in NU athletics history, but Fitzgerald isn't sure -- or maybe is being coy -- if that had any effect on the 21 signees (including Prater).

"I don't know if I come up a lot, but a lot of discussion is about the program and the direction we are taking," Fitzgerald said.

The bottom line also doesn't seem to be about where the Wildcats are ranked among Big Ten teams and by what recruiting service. It doesn't seem to be about when facilities will be built or rennovated. And it doesn't seem to be about how long Fitzgerald is locked in at NU.

"Our team needs to win," he said.

And maybe this class can get it done.

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This page contains a single entry by Tina Akouris published on February 1, 2012 1:50 PM.

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