The Northwestern Wildcats are making it a habit of pulling in some of Ohio’s top prospects in the 2020 recruiting class. Monday, offensive lineman Ben Wrather gave his verbal pledge to continue his academic and athletic career with Pat Fitzgerald.
Early in April, Powell (Ohio) Olentangy Liberty offensive lineman Ben Wrather picked up an offer from Northwestern following an on-campus visit. After making a second visit this past weekend, Wrather had seen enough and ended his recruitment on Monday night.
“This past weekend, I was over in Chicago for my sister’s volleyball tournament,” said Wrather. “While there, I made a stop at Northwestern again for my second visit. I really fell in love with everything and it felt like home.
“I feel Northwestern has a really strong football program and I feel I have a really good relationship with the coaches, especially with Coach Fitzgerald and Coach (Kurt) Anderson. Plus, it’s a great academic school.”
As Wrather has told First Star Football Report in the past, academics were going to play a key role in his final choice.
“Right now, I’m undecided on what I’m going to study,” he said. “Some of my favorite classes are business, math and sciences. So, I’m interested in all of that.”
Wrather becomes the third pledge from Ohio for the Wildcats 2020 class. However, he didn’t allow that to play a role in his decision.
“I saw a couple of them on Twitter,” he said. “That didn’t really pressure me as I wanted to take my time and know everything I could about Northwestern before I committed. I basically made sure I had the best feeling about what I was going in to.”
While some recruiting sites have Terah Edwards listed as an offensive lineman. Edwards told First Star Football Report the Wildcats are bringing him in as a defensive tackle. Wrather becomes the first offensive lineman for Coach Anderson in this class.
“It’s pretty cool because he’s coached in the NFL and I feel he knows all the right things and techniques to help me develop as a player,” he said.
What was it about this past visit that sold the 6-foot-5, 285-pound lineman on Northwestern?
“I think one of the main things I saw this time was more of the campus life,” explained Wrather. “A lot of the players were in classes so I got a chance to just walk around and see what campus would be like as a student. I got to see the dorms and see the library. So, it was not football related, but I spent a lot of time in those areas on this visit.”
With added help Wrather was not surprised he was able to make his decision so early in the process.
“I wouldn’t say it’s earlier than I thought,” he said. “I feel I got out early enough and took enough visits that I was aware of what other programs had. A lot of programs had what I was looking for. However, Northwestern had all of what I was looking for as far as being the best fit for me. Then I thought why wait as I found something I loved, and I might as well commit there.
“I have to thank my parents as they played a huge role in all of this by taking me everywhere and giving me advice on what to do. I couldn’t have done any of this on my own. I also want to thank Coach (Steve) Hale at my high school because he mentored me through this entire thing since he’s gone through this before with his own kid and others.”
Wrather learned there was more to the recruiting process than just visiting schools as contact with coaches and the recruiting media also took time away from his normal day. However, you won’t hear him complain.
“It was very time consuming, but I felt worth it in the long run,” he said. “I got to make a bunch of new relationships I wouldn’t have made before. I met a lot of great coaches and made a lot of new friends along the journey. So, I feel it was worth it.
“I appreciate all the coaches that offered me and believed in me, but I can now just focus on my senior year and the offseason lifting with my team and not worrying about where I’m going on the weekend or all that other recruiting stuff.
“I feel this will benefit me as I’ll have more time so I can do more studying for finals because they are coming up. So, I feel it’s an overall benefit in my personal life, in school and in my team in general.”
One thing not decided at this point is when Wrather will look to enroll.
“I’m still thinking about some of that stuff,” he continued. “Coach Fitzgerald said I had the option if I wanted to. However, I must clear up a couple of things at the high school with a couple of classes. If I can get those done during the summer, it would be an option.”
What would Wrather tell Northwestern fans about himself as a person and a player?
“Overall, I’m a self-motivated guy who likes to get things done in the classroom and on the field,” he said. “As a player, I feel I can create a big impact on the team and feel Coach Anderson can really take me to the next level and prepare me to play at the college level with his knowledge.
While recruited as an offensive tackle, Wrather said Anderson likes his versatility because he can play tackle, guard and even center.