Ifeadi Odenigbo commits to NU

Northwestern secured one of the program's biggest recruits Saturday when ESPNU top 150 defensive end/linebacker Ifeadi Odenigbo committed to the Wildcats.

Odenigbo, who is 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, is ranked No. 50 in the Class of 2012 by ESPN and is Ohio's top prospect. He chose Northwestern over Notre Dame and Stanford.

"By me committing there, I hope I can attract more big-time recruits," Odenigbo said at his news conference on Saturday. "That's the plan because it only takes one guy."

Odenigbo's commitment gave Northwestern its second ESPNU 150 recruit in the last two seasons. Christian Jones was ranked No. 108 in the Class of 2011. Jones had 16 receptions for 195 yards as a freshman this past season.

ESPN Midwest recruiting analyst Jared Shanker thought Odenigbo's commitment could pay dividends down the road the Wildcats.

"He went through the recruiting process differently than most," Shanker said. "Academics was such a huge reason why he chose Northwestern. He liked the football program and liked (coach Pat) Fitzgerald, but I don't think the football program was why he chose Northwestern. He talked about getting his MBA in economics at Northwestern.

"I think the trickle-down effect is what could have some impact on recruiting. He's the No. 50 player in the country. A lot of guys in the Midwest might start taking notice of Northwestern. If he blows up on the field as we would expect the No. 50 player in the country, I think it could (go) a long way in attracting top recruits."

Northwestern now has 20 Class of 2012 commitments.

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.