Lake Forest’s Mac Uihlein, a four-star junior inside linebacker (6-foot-1, 210 pounds), gave Northwestern his verbal commitment this past weekend.
“Northwestern is like family,” Uihlein told WildcatReport's Lou Vaccher. “It’s the relationships you build at Northwestern that make it more than a four-year decision. It’s a lifetime decision.
"The academic opportunities they provide are amazing, and it’s definitely something I want to take advantage of,” said Uihlein, who carries a 5.01 GPA (on a 5.0 scale) at Lake Forest and scored a 26 on his ACT. “Coach Fitzgerald, and Coach McGarigle and all the guys they recruit are just great people I want to be around. Plus, Northwestern is close to home, so my family can get to games easily.”
Uihlein said that it was during a phone conversation with McGarigle that he realized “Northwestern was the place I wanted to be. My values line up with Northwestern’s, so I decided there was no reason to wait. I wanted to make my decision now."
Uihlein is now the fourth known verbal commitment for the Northwestern Class of 2021 and the first known in-state commitment.
Richmond-Burton junior offensive tackle Luke Eckardt (6-foot-7, 265 pounds) gave the NIU Huskies and head coach Thomas Hammock his verbal commitment late last week.
"We went back and forth for a bit with NIU, but once they offered me, it's just too good of a fit and opportunity for me to pass up. So I committed," Eckardt said. "I had been thinking more and more about making an early college decision, and I feel great about committing to NIU."
Eckardt, who was starting to see his overall recruiting stock rise this early spring, discussed why he committed to the nearby NIU Huskies.
"I just really like the coaches at NIU. We've been talking a lot, and I've gotten to build a strong relationship with them. I've also been able to make visits to NIU, and I really like the campus and the facilities. NIU is also close to home, and that also played a factor in my decision. I'll be able to go to school, get a good education, and also have my family and friends see me play in college. Everything about NIU feels right to me, and my family is also behind me and is excited about my decision. NIU is building something special, and I wanted to be a part of it."
Eckardt also admitted that the timing of his decision during the COVID-19 pandemic no question played a role in his choice.
"It (COVID-19) definitely played a role in making my decision this early. With the NCAA basically pushing back recruiting (the NCAA recently extended the dead period from April 15 to May 31), I really won't have a chance to get out to visit any other schools. I also didn't want to extend or drag out the recruiting process for a long time. I'm extremely comfortable with NIU. The school and the football program is a great fit for me, and I felt ready to make my decision. So I committed."
Luke Eckardt is the sixth known verbal commitment in the NIU Class of 2021 and the fourth known in-state commitment. Eckardt joins Aurora Christian quarterback Ethan Hampton, Solorio safety Brian Whitsey and Batavia Wide Receiver Trey Urwiler in the Huskies Class of 2021.
Willowbrook junior offensive tackle Enrique Cruz Jr. (6-foot-6, 250 pounds) has seen his recruiting stock take off over the past week or so, adding his first offer last week from Syracuse.
"Syracuse Coach (Mike) Lynch found me on Twitter a week or two ago," Cruz said. "We've been in contact quite a bit ever since then, and we FaceTime called on Saturday. That's when Syracuse offered me a scholarship ."
Cruz discussed his initial impressions of adding his first scholarship offer from Syracuse.
"I know that Syracuse is a really nice school, and I've been online and able to do a little bit of research on them. They offer a strong education, and it's just a great offer from a great school. The offer from Syracuse was a big surprise for sure. The coaches from Syracuse said that they want me to come and visit them as soon as we are allowed to make college visits."
Cruz Jr., who added new offers from Louisville and Western Illinois on Monday, has also been in touch with Iowa, NIU and Rutgers. He made a Junior Day visit earlier this winter to Iowa.
Nazareth Academy junior defensive tackle Drew Hughes (6-foot-3, 270 pounds) saw his recruiting stock take off early this spring despite an NCAA-forced football recruiting dead period in response to COVID-19.
"It's been really exciting getting these offers all of a sudden," Hughes said. "I have offers now from Miami of Ohio, Kent State and also North Dakota. I didn't expect to be playing Xbox one day and then getting on the phone with college coaches who want to offer me scholarships the next. It's been pretty wild."
Hughes filled us in on his latest recruiting news and new suitors so far this spring.
"I have offers from Miami of Ohio, Kent State and North Dakota. I've been in contact quite a bit with the coaches from South Dakota, South Dakota State, plus Akron. I've made visits so far to Miami of Ohio, NIU, Tennessee, South Carolina and Auburn, and also Iowa. I had visits planned to Western Michigan and Ball State, but those visits got canceled. I'm hoping that we can eventually be allowed to make college visits again, and I'm also looking at visiting Miami of Ohio again, along with North Dakota."