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Lincoln-Way East quarterback Tom Fuessel (18) committed to coach Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern Saturday. | Bradley Leeb~AP
Tom Fuessel, seven days after leading Lincoln-Way East to the Class 7A state title game as a Northern Illinois recruit, confirmed Saturday he will instead suit up for Northwestern as a collegian.
Or, more correctly, his father confirmed it.
“Done deal. Go Wildcats,” Fuessel’s father, Tom Jr., said early Saturday in a text message.
Fuessel, the Griffins’ quarterback, decommitted Monday from NIU, and visited and was offered a scholarship by Northwestern on Friday. Though a Saturday dinner with Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, a Sandburg alum, was planned, it wasn’t necessary to seal the deal.
After touring Northwestern’s campus, including Ryan Field, on Friday, Fuessel’s father said, “It’s exciting. It’s all happened so fast.”
Much like Fuessel’s rise from a junior backup to senior blue-chipper.
After backing up Blake Winkler, who’s now at Illinois State, in 2011, Fuessel produced a remarkable 2012 season, compiling more than 2,500 total yards while leading the Griffins to a 13-1 mark.
During a summer camp, Fuessel caught the eye of coaches from Northern Illinois, which offered the 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior a scholarship.
As Fuessel’s star rose during the Griffins’ march to the 7A state title game — which they lost, 10-8, to Glenbard West — NIU coach Dave Doeren was making his own ascent.
The Huskies have won 12 straight, including Friday night’s 44-37 double-overtime thriller over Kent State in the Mid-American Conference title game. Doeren is among the names mentioned for virtually every big college football job that comes open.
Knowing the coach who recruited him likely could be moving on, if not after this season possibly in the next couple of years, Fuessel decided to re-examine his options.
Blessed with blazing speed — Fuessel has posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.3 seconds — and the shiftiness to avoid defenders, Fuessel registered more than 1,500 yards rushing and 1,000 yards passing as East won its first 13 games.
With Maine South quarterback Matt Alviti, a more prototype drop-back passer, already having committed to Northwestern, Fuessel is expected to provide a dangerous alternative as a run-first quarterback.
However, the Mokena resident also likely will find himself lining up at receiver and running back, similar to current Wildcat Kain Colter.