Pat Fitzgerald welcomed his 2017 recruiting class on National Signing Day, announcing the 26 newest Wildcats on Wednesday.
"We're thrilled to officially welcome the newest members of our football family," Fitzgerald said in the announcement. "Every year we work hard to identify young men that fit our program and our university, academically and athletically. This is a remarkably proud day for these Wildcats and their families, most of whom have been committed to Northwestern since last summer. We can't wait to get them on campus and continue building towards a Big Ten championship."
Several touted prospects along the defensive line headline this year's class. Defensive ends Earnest Brown IV and Trevor Kent and defensive tackle Sam Miller all earned four-star ratings from various recruiting services, as did another defender in safety Austin Hiller.
Rivals wasn't quite as high on those prospects or any the Cats welcomed in Wednesday, assigning no rating higher than three stars. That site ranked Fitzgerald's 2017 class 12th in the Big Ten and 51st nationally.
Brown was ranked by Rivals as the No. 31 player at his position and the 60th-best player in Texas, no small feat. Kent was the No. 15 player at his position and the No. 1 player in Kansas. Miller was the No. 31 player at his position and another top-100 recruit in the Lone Star State.
This year's class included five players from the state of Illinois: scholarship athletes Glenbard North wide receiver Jace James and Lakes Community cornerback Cameron Ruiz; kicker/punter Luke Otto, a Normal native and graduate transfer from Western Illinois; and preferred walk-ons Wheaton North linebacker Erik Mueller and Montini Catholic defensive tackle Joe Spivak.
Additionally, the Cats brought in five players each from Texas and Ohio.
More defensive players from this year's class include Georgia linebacker Chee Anyanwu, Massachusetts linebacker Blake Gallagher, Texas safety Bryce Jackson, Ohio linebacker Peter McIntyre and Georgia safety J.R. Pace.
Offensive players who will join the Cats include Ohio offensive lineman Sam Gerak, California wide receiver Berkeley Holman, Ohio quarterback Andrew Marty, Georgia wide receiver Kyric McGowan, Ohio superback Trey Pugh, Texas offensive lineman Rashawn Slater and New York offensive lineman Ethan Wiederkehr.
Plus Fitzgerald added a scholarship kicker/punter in Charlie Kuhbander of Ohio.