Joliet Catholic star Dillan Johnson switches from Northwestern to Wisconsin

It didn’t take long for the fallout from Pat Fitzgerald’s stunning firing to spill over into Northwestern’s recruiting prospects.

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Joliet Catholic defensive tackle Dillan Johnson is a three-star prospect who committed to Northwestern for football and wrestling but has now switched to Wisconsin.

Joliet Catholic defensive tackle Dillan Johnson is a three-star prospect who committed to Northwestern for football and wrestling but has now switched to Wisconsin.

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It didn’t take long for the fallout from Pat Fitzgerald’s stunning firing to spill over into Northwestern’s recruiting prospects.

Within days of Fitzgerald’s ouster, three rising seniors decommitted from the Wildcats. One of them, Joliet Catholic defensive lineman Dillan Johnson, announced his commitment to Wisconsin on Wednesday,

Johnson’s switch is a double loss for NU athletics. The 6-2, 287-pounder is a three-star football prospect who’s 20th in Illinois’ class of 2024 in the 247Sports composite rankings.

He’s an even more sought-after recruit in wrestling as the No. 4 285-pounder and No. 10 recruit overall in FloWrestling’s rankings. Johnson plans to pursue both sports in college.

“I was just sad overall about what happened at Northwestern,” Johnson told the Sun-Times.

But pivoting to Wisconsin, a power in both football and wrestling, was an easy call.

“For the most part, they had everything I was looking for,” Johnson said. “Both my parents loved the school.”

Does Johnson think things happen for a reason?

“I know my dad definitely does,” Johnson said.

He had no desire to take more time finding a school.

“We weren’t too keen on restarting the whole recruiting process,” he said. “We revisited the schools at the top of the [original] list.”

Rivals recruiting analyst Clint Cosgrove sees Johnson as a great fit for the Badgers’ 3-3-5 defense.

“Interior pass rushers, they are hard to find,” Cosgrove told the Sun-Times. “I think he’s got a ton of upside.”

Northwestern’s future

As of mid-week, Northwestern had 10 commits in the class of 2024 according to 247Sports.

How many the Wildcats will be able to retain, and how many prospects they can add before this winter’s signing day is an open question.

“It’s going to be a tough go because there’s uncertainty,” Cosgrove said. “There’s a bad vibe around the program right now. It’s a weird situation.”

Cosgrove had praise for David Braun, who was named interim coach just months after arriving from North Dakota State as the Wildcats’ new defensive coordinator.

“His resume is far below the caliber of coach he is.” Cosgrove said.

Plus, NU can still point to its acclaimed academics, its upgraded facilities and the promise of a new and improved Ryan Field (assuming it’s not derailed by Fitzgerald’s firing).

On the other hand, the specter of the hazing allegations still hangs over the program.

“This isn’t going to kill Northwestern football forever hopefully,” Cosgrove said. “[But] it’s a mess there right now to put it bluntly.”

‘EZ’ choice for Marqus Easley

Kankakee offensive tackle Marques Easley, a 6-6, 335-pounder whose nickname is Big EZ, committed to Georgia last weekend.

Does it seem real that he’s heading to the two-time defending national champ?

“I don’t think it’ll sink in till signing day,” Easley told the Sun-Times.

Easley, the No. 6 rising senior in Illinois and No. 22 offensive tackle according to 247Sports’ composite rankings. had plenty of good options. He held 32 offers, including nine from the SEC, and his other two finalists were Alabama and Oklahoma.

“His upside is as good as any guy they bring in,” Cosgrove said. “He’s extremely athletic. He’s got a big chance to be a high-round draft pick in a few years.”

Easley, meanwhile, likes Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart’s philosophy: “He gives you a balance between school, football and personal life.”

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