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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

Northwestern's new practice facility has the potential to alter recruiting for many Big Ten programs. It's unlikely that a player will pick Northwestern over, say, Ohio State or Michigan. But the Wildcats now have a chance to make serious inroads against Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State and Nebraska.

For generations, Northwestern could boast that it was connected to Chicago, the Midwest's unofficial capital. Northwestern is one of the nation's top universities, and it could sell recruits on a $400,000 education with lifetime benefits. But football matters, too, as do facilities, gameday environment, location, coaching stability and other factors.

Northwestern's facilities now can match its West Division competitors in all sports, but specifically football. It has a better chance of keeping Chicagoland recruits home with the new indoor attraction that includes a strength and conditioning center, meeting rooms, sports performance area, lounges and a nutrition area.

According to a university statement, "The new complex will provide amazing opportunities to showcase Chicago's Big Ten teams with views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. These new facilities will allow Northwestern University to recruit and retain the top student-athletes in the country."

According to 247Sports, Northwestern's 2018 recruiting class ranked 59th nationally. That's lower than every Big Ten West foe. Coach Pat Fitzgerald has kept the Wildcats competitive over the years with smart, tough, aggressive players. If this new facility can help Northwestern improve its recruiting by four more players each year - and take them from its recruiting contenders in the process - it has a chance to compete annually for division titles.

At worst, this is a game maintainer for Northwestern. But it has the potential to become a game changer.

 

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June 7, 2018
 
 
 

 

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