The recruitment of 4-star dual-threat quarterback Travis Waller got a little more interesting this week when he announced his list of top four colleges:
Waller listed July 1 as the day he will verbally commit to Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame or Northwestern, which means there is a very narrow window of opportunity for one of these programs to get the advantage over the others.
Right now, all four are in a dead heat in Waller’s mind. The Servite High (Anaheim, California) quarterback spent Wednesday in Crimson Tide country on an official visit.
“No edge right now, all four are even,” Waller said. “Once I visit, that will change. It could be Bama after this visit.”
Alabama’s existing reputation intrigues Waller and is one of the reasons the Tide made the cut.
“They’re the powerhouse team. I know it’s a pro style, but a mobile quarterback in that offense; that’s dangerous for defense,” Waller said of how he could potentially fit into Alabama’s scheme.
While in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday, Waller spent time with college football’s most notorious coach, Lane Kiffin. Though his reputation may proceed him, Kiffin’s reputation isn’t impacting Waller.
“I’ve talked to Lane Kiffin. I’m trying to build a good relationship with him,” he said.
Kiffin is highly regarded for his recruiting abilities, and establishing a bond with Waller could be exactly what Bama needs to convince the California boy to come down South.
But Northwestern and Notre Dame will be trying to pull him North. Ohio State has yet to extend an offer to Waller, but he expects one in the coming days.
Each school represents a unique opportunity for Waller to excel at the college level.
At Ohio State, Braxton Miller is gone, so he could compete for the starting job. At Notre Dame, once Everett Golson leaves, the starting quarterback job would be wide open. But perhaps no school provides Waller with a better opportunity to carve his own destiny than Northwestern.
Yes, that’s right: Northwestern.
While the Wildcats don’t tout BCS titles or Heisman trophies, they do offer opportunities he wouldn’t necessarily be guaranteed with the bigger, more storied programs.
“A degree from Northwestern would be huge for me,” Waller said, first speaking about the academic prestige of the university. “I plan to major in business and marketing, and they have a good program for that. I could start early and play all four years there.”
Graduating with a degree is very important to Waller, and it doesn’t get much better than one from Northwestern.
“I need a plan B no matter what happens football-wise, so Northwestern is the place to be for that.”
While Northwestern’s lack of football pedigree would be a deterrent to some, Waller sees things differently.
“One thing my head coach told me: Do you want to start your own legacy or continue someone else’s? I would have the chance to start my own legacy there,” Waller said, and that is a possibility that sounds very good to him.
Notre Dame also has the academic prowess to sell Waller on the Fighting Irish experience, but its quarterback situation is a bit more precarious.
If Waller were to join that mix, it would be much tougher to earn playing time, as Zaire has three years of eligibility left, and Kizer has all four.
But that doesn’t seem to faze Waller.
“It’s not necessarily a concern,” he said. “Once Golson leaves, I have chance to compete for the spot, so that’s really good.”
The high school senior doesn’t have to worry about any of that right now. In the next few weeks, all he will be focusing on is taking his visits and deciding which school truly is the best fit for him.
“The visits will definitely be a huge determining factor,” he said. “I need to see if I can see myself there on campus. All these schools are back east, so I need to be comfortable there and I need to feel like I want be there for the next four years.”
Once he makes a decision in July, Waller says he plans to visit that school again at some point during the summer. But shortly after he announces his commitment, he ships out to Nike’s The Opening camp, July 6-11.
All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise stated.