Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald again demonstrated his commitment to living up to the Wildcats’ marketing slogan – “Chicago’s Big Ten team” – by landing a commitment from Lyons’ Matt Harris this week.
Harris, a wide receiver/defensive back recruited as a defender, is another high-upside, no-downside recruit for the ‘Cats. He joins such other recent commits and signees as Maine South quarterback Matt Alviti, Minooka lineman Blake King and a stable of running backs including Joliet Catholic’s Malin Jones, Plano’s Joseph Jones, Wheaton Warrenville South’s Dan Vitale and Carmel’s Michael Panico.
Recruiting was just starting to heat up for Harris, who also had offers from Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin along with several Mid-American Conference schools. But he wanted to be done with the process and saw no reason to wait once Fitzgerald offered.
It’s easy to see why Evanston is such a popular destination for players like Harris. NU offers a world-class education, a program that’s usually in the bowl mix and a charismatic young coach who seems to have no desire to go anywhere else. For recruits looking for a stable college environment, it’s hard to beat.
And Fitzgerald seems particularly adept at spotting talent that others may overlook. In Harris’ case, he’s got a two-sport star who isn’t getting the credit he deserves for his athleticism. Harris, like a lot of top prep football players, is also a track and field star. But he’s not a sprinter, which Lyons coach Kurt Weinberg said made some colleges look past him.
That was their mistake, because anyone who finishes second in the state in the long jump and qualifies in the hurdles is a pretty good athlete.
As Harris put it: “There’s a difference between track-fast and football-fast. Track, you can be fast but it’s just running one way. Football, you can be a fast cutter and a fast sprinter at the same time.
“I just work on being fast in general.”
Starting next year, he’ll be working on that at Northwestern.