Ed Vennon: A 'Bird Dog' of a Scout for Northwestern

Class of 1958

In the ’60s and ’70s, if a high school student-athlete in northwest Indiana possessed the skills to succeed at Northwestern — on and off the football field — Ed Vennon made sure the Wildcat coaches knew about him. For more than 25 years, Vennon (J58), a volunteer recruiting “bird dog,” identified potential recruits and followed their careers. He collected and delivered countless hours of game footage to Wildcat coaches. He even shuttled young men to Evanston for recruiting weekends — all activities that were permissible before the NCAA tightened its restrictions on recruiting in the 1980s. As an undergraduate, Vennon personally recruited Irv Cross (SESP61), who had attended Hammond (Ind.) High School with him. Cross, a Pro Bowl cornerback in the NFL, went on to a Hall of Fame broadcasting career. Last June the N Club, the University’s student-athlete alumni association, made Vennon an honorary member at its Senior Recognition Banquet. Vennon, a longtime football season ticket holder and a former journalist and lobbyist who lives in Indianapolis, called the honor “a life highlight.” — Sean Hargadon

Photo by Nelson Fitch (WCAS11)