We’re taking a look this week at an area of need for each Big Ten team, and how the 2016 recruiting class can help with the problem. Next up are the Northwestern Wildcats:
Biggest need for 2016: Wide receivers
Northwestern was the lowest-scoring team in the Big Ten in 2015, and a major reason was the absence of firepower in the passing game. The Wildcats threw for just over 138 yards per game, which ranked 119th nationally.
Having a redshirt freshman quarterback was one factor in why the team struggled to get much going through the air, but Clayton Thorson also lacked weapons at receiver. That position has been a disappointment for the past couple of seasons in Evanston, and two of the more dependable starters from last season -- Christian Jones and Miles Shuler -- were seniors. Four of the top six wideouts on the season-ending depth chart are departing, in fact, and the team's leading pass catcher -- superback Dan Vitale -- is also out of eligibility.
The Wildcats will need to develop more receivers this offseason if they are to improve the offense.
How the 2016 recruiting class could help: The Wildcats landed four receivers in the 2015 class, including Flynn Nagel and Cameron Green, who should be contributors in the future. But the 2016 class has some potential playmakers of its own.
Both are three-star prospects with good size at 6-foot-2 and 6-3 respectively, so Northwestern should eventually see offensive production out of both the 2015 and 2016 classes. -- Tom VanHaaren