Conrad Rowley visited a half dozen schools in his quest to find the right academic/football fit following his junior year Blue Springs High School.

The first-team all-state, all-conference, all-district, All-Simone Team and Examiner All-Area selection knew once he stepped foot on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, that he had found his future home. He made a verbal commitment Tuesday.

“Everything about it felt right,” said Rowley, who has become one of the most dominating offensive linemen in Blue Springs history. “The coaching staff is freaking unbelievable. They have the same passion for football that I have.

“And now that I know where I am going to college, I can totally concentrate on helping our team have a great season (my senior year).”

Rowley had received offers from Iowa State, Kansas and Rice and was receiving interest from other schools in the Big 10 and SEC.

“My dream, as long as I can remember, has been to play in the Big 10, and playing at Northwestern makes that dream come true,” said Rowley, who helped pave the way for nearly 5,000 offensive yards for the Wildcats last fall. “They have a new $200 million facility you have to see to believe and they have a real commitment to their players – as players and as individuals. They really care about everyone on the team, just like our coaches do here at Blue Springs.”

The fact that Northwestern is just an hour away by air impacted the 6-foot-4, 270-pound left tackle.

“It’s important to me that my family can come watch me play, and Northwestern is right outside of Chicago, so they can get there in an hour,” he said.

Rowley said he plans on signing next February with other student-athletes from Blue Springs, and believes he could play as a freshman.

“We’ll see,” Rowley said. “If I get stronger and they believe I can make an impact on the team as a freshman, I might play. If not, I will redshirt and have four more years of playing time after my freshman year. Either way, this is a dream come true for me and my family.”

Blue Springs football coach Kelly Donohoe is thrilled for his top offensive lineman.

“Conrad is one of the best all-around kids to ever play at Blue Springs High School,” said Donohoe, who led the Wildcats to the Class 6 championship game the past two seasons. “His work ethic, dedication and devotion to his teammates is incredible.

“We are so happy for him to play at a university like Northwestern.”