In the midst of the Chicago trying to dig itself out of the snow on Wednesday, the Northwestern University football team was securing the signatures of 17 high school football players. All committing to the Wildcats on national signing day.

“We don’t have enough time to talk about all 17,” Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said on the Laurence Holmes Show. “I’m really excited about each young man, and we filled our needs and went beyond that.”

LISTEN: Pat Fitzgerald On The Laurence Holmes Show

The Wildcats flirted with being ranked in the top 25 all last season, but were never able to fully establish themselves there.

But like every program, national signing day brought renewed optimism to the Wildcats.

“What I’m most impressed with is the average GPA of the class is 3.4 and 11 of the guys were team captains,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s pretty impressive to me, and that kind of young person really fits our program well.”

The wildcats will need the incoming freshman to step right in and be able to contribute if the team wants to compete for a Big Ten title. But until the players get to campus and get acclimated to college football and college life, it’s really hard to predict their future success.

“You know, we’ll see as they develop and grow and get bigger, faster, stronger and mature in to being college student-athletes, what kind of impact they’re going to have here in the near future,” Fitzgerald said.

With the return of a healthy Dan Persa as the team’s quarterback, the near future still looks pretty bright for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats will open their 2011 season on September 3 when they visit Boston College. Their home matchups include games against Eastern Illinois, Michigan, Penn State, Rice, Minnesota and Michigan State.

They’ll also have road games agaisnt Army, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Nebraska.

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