Northwestern Football Projected Depth Chart

The Wildcats celebrate a Godwin Igwebuike interception against Wisconsin. Photo Credit: Mia Zanzucchi / North by Northwestern

The Wildcats celebrate a Godwin Igwebuike interception against Wisconsin. Photo Credit: Mia Zanzucchi / North by Northwestern

After a pair of open practices to close out spring ball, Northwestern fans can get a better idea of what the Wildcat lineup might look like in September. A lot of players sat out spring practice with injury and a lot is bound to change during the next four months, but it’s never too early to look ahead to next season. Here’s our staffer Jason Dorow (@jasondorow) projecting Northwestern’s 2015 depth chart:

Offense

Position Starters Back-ups
Quarterback Clayton Thorson (Fr.) Zack Oliver (Sr.), Matt Alviti (So.)
Running Back Justin Jackson (So.) Auston Anderson (Fr.), Warren Long (Jr.)
Super Back Dan Vitale (Sr.) Garrett Dickerson (So.), Jayme Taylor (So.)
Outside Wide Receivers Cameron Dickerson (Sr.), Mike McHugh (Jr.) Pierre Youngblood-Ary (Sr.), Andrew Scanlan (Jr.)
Inside Wide Receivers Christian Jones (Sr.), Miles Shuler (Sr.) Solomon Vault (So.), Austin Carr (Jr.)
Left Tackle Geoff Mogus (Sr.) Tommy Doles (Fr.)
Left Guard Adam DePietro (Jr.) Connor Mahoney (Jr.)
Center Brad North (So.) Ian Park (Jr.)
Right Guard Matt Frazier (Sr.) Shane Mertz (Jr.)
Right Tackle Eric Olson (Jr.) Blake Hance (Fr.)

The quarterback battle is still an open competition, but from what we’ve seen in practice, Clayton Thorson looks like the front runner. The redshirt freshman is the best combo of size, mobility and throwing ability among the three signal callers. Between the running backs and super backs, there is depth galore in the backfield. Justin Jackson will shoulder the load again, but a lot of guys are going to get touches.

There are loads of athleticism among NU’s wideouts, but they have to work on their ball skills and hope to have a healthy Christian Jones come September. The closest competitions are probably on the offensive line where almost every spot has guys competing for the opportunity to start.

Defense

Position Starters Back-ups
Defensive Ends Dean Lowry (Sr.), Deonte Gibson (Sr.) Ifeadi Odenigbo (Jr.), Xavier Washington (So.)
Defensive Tackles Sean McEvilly (Sr.), Greg Kuhar (Jr.) C.J. Robbins (Sr.), Max Chapman (Sr.)
Outside Linebackers Drew Smith (Sr.), Joseph Jones (Jr.) Jaylen Prater (Jr.), Nate Hall (So.)
Middle Linebacker Anthony Walker (So.) Brett Walsh (So.)
Cornerbacks Nick VanHoose (Sr.), Matt Harris (Jr.) Marcus McShepard (Jr.), Parrker Westphal (Fr.)
Safeties Traveon Henry (Sr.), Godwin Igwebuike (So.) Kyle Queiro (So.), Terrance Brown (Jr.)

The defense’s starting eleven is significantly easier to project than the offense’s at this point. Pat Fitzgerald has a ton of returning starters and one of the deepest defensive lines in the conference. Expect to see the speedy four end sets again this year.

The one big question on defense is who will replace Chi Chi Ariguzo. There’s a chance that Traveon Henry moves the WILL linebacker spot and Kyle Queiro starts at safety. However, it’s more likely that Joseph Jones steps into the linebacking corps alongside Anthony Walker and Drew Smith.

Special Teams

Position Starter Back-ups
Kicker Jack Mitchell (Sr.) Hunter Niswander (Fr.)
Punter Hunter Niswander (Fr.) Matt Micucci (Jr.)
Kick Returner Solomon Vault (So.) Miles Shuler (Sr.)
Punt Returner Miles Shuler (Sr.) Solomon Vault (So.)

Hunter Niswander didn’t see the field much last year due to an injury. If he’s healthy, he could punting and kicking duties this season. Jack Mitchell’s performance at Notre Dame will earn him the benefit of the doubt for now though. Vault and Shuler both have the ability to bust big plays in the return game.

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