Signing Day: Northwestern attracting talent

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald hates recruiting ratings as much as any coach in the country.

Fitzgerald makes a point of saying that every year on Signing Day. He’s bound to do it again on Wednesday.

Despite his despise for the rating system, the Wildcats’ recruits have been garnering favorable reviews among talent evaluators in recent years. Northwestern’s 2013 class could be its best yet.

“I think you can definitely see Northwestern recruiting classes are getting a little better as they’re getting better on the field,” ESPN Midwest recruiting coordinator Jared Shanker said.

Four-star recruits: Northwestern has landed two four-star recruits this year in Maine South (Ill.) quarterback Matt Alviti and Pickerington North (Ohio) athlete Godwin Igwebuike.

Alviti was a major get for the Wildcats out of the Chicago area. He chose Northwestern over Illinois and Notre Dame, among others. He is ranked No. 164 overall and the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback.

“He seems to fit what Northwestern wants from its quarterback,” Shanker said. “He’s similar to (former Northwestern quarterback) Dan Persa, who can beat you both ways.”

Igwebuike, who is 6-foot and 190 pounds, was another highly-touted recruit for the Wildcats. He picked Northwestern over offers from most of the Big Ten. He’s ranked the 55th-best athlete and is expected to play on the defensive side at Northwestern.

"Michigan tried to jump on him late,” Shanker said. “He stuck strong with Northwestern. He just felt like that was the best place for him.”

O-line star: Northwestern has produced a number of quality offensive linemen in recent years, and Plainfield East’s Tyler Lancaster could be another one.

Lancaster, who is 6-foot-4 and 269 pounds, is ranked the No. 10 center in the nation.

“Centers gets lost in the shuffle sometimes,” Shanker said. “He’s one of the best centers in the country. He was invited to The Opening (a national invitational camp), and he really held his own there.”

Cornerback help: Keith Watkins II, who is from Moeller (Ohio), and Marcus McShepard, who is from Cleveland Heights (Ohio), could make for a future cornerback tandem for the Wildcats.

“They’re both pretty good players,” Shanker said. “I think the defensive back class is shaping pretty nicely for them.”

Nationwide recruiting: As always, Fitzgerald recruited throughout the country. He has five recruits from Illinois, five from Ohio, three from Texas, three from California, one from Florida, one from New Jersey and one from Pennsylvania.