Commitment close for Marcus McShepard

The visit from Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald and Wildcats assistant Adam Cushing was not so much a visit but a Q & A, Cleveland Heights (Ohio) Marcus McShepard said.

The senior cornerback liked what he heard, though, and the in-home visit extended Northwestern’s lead for the fast-rising defensive back.

“It was really smooth,” McShepard said. “I asked Coach Fitz how successful are football players that go into my major [mechanical engineering], and he said over the past seven years he’s been coaching he’s had a 100 percent graduation rate. I felt really relieved I don’t have to worry about that. They have tutors, assistants all over the place to provide help for me.”

On the field, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound McShepard was told it will be an easy transition to Northwestern’s defensive scheme.

“They see me as a nickelback. They play a cover four defense, somewhat similar to ours,” McShepard said. “He said it wouldn’t be that big of a change but more defensive schemes than what we had in high school.”

McShepard will make his official visit to Northwestern this coming weekend. He visited once before while there for a camp, but most of the players were not on campus, as it was summer break. On this visit, McShepard wants to hear the players’ perspective on being a student-athlete at Northwestern.

With Northwestern being McShepard’s “dream school,” he said there is a good chance he ends his recruitment by Sunday.

“I’d say it’s pretty high,” McShepard said of a commitment. “I did have a couple other visits set up for the next couple of weeks, but if I feel that’s the place for me, I’m 100 percent sure I want to go there, then, yeah, it’s highly likely I will.”

Penn State has an official visit set up with McShepard for the weekend of Dec. 7, and the Nittany Lions offered McShepard on Wednesday while assistant coach John Butler was at the school. McShepard said that offer changes things “slightly.”

“Northwestern is still the school I want to go to, but also want to explore the other things I might not see or receive at Northwestern,” he said.

Penn State is about to enter Year 2 of its four-year bowl ban, meaning McShepard would have two seasons to play in a bowl game at most. The Lions are also dealing with massive scholarship reductions.

That is seen as an opportunity for McShepard, though.

“I see that as almost an advantage for them as it’s a rebuilding system. They’re going to have a lot of young players for them. That’s probably the upside in my eyes,” he said. “[Butler] already told me there was a safety that plays corner but wants to play safety, so they have a free slot in the corner position and they want to play two freshmen.

“That’s something to think about.”

Illinois could offer McShepard soon, and he tentatively has an official visit scheduled to Champaign for the weekend of Dec. 14.