Report: Northwestern running back Cam Porter out for season with lower-body injury

By John Volk

Cam Porter, Northwestern’s projected starting running back, suffered a non-contact lower-body injury in practice, the team announced Tuesday. The undisclosed injury reportedly knocks Porter out for the 2021 season. Northwestern also announced offensive lineman Zachary Franks will miss 2021 with a lower-body injury.

Porter appeared set for a big second year with the ‘Cats after wrestling the starting job away from Isaiah Bowser to close 2020. Despite only carrying the ball eight times through Northwestern’s first four games last season, the Cincinnati native exploded onto the scene against Illinois, rushing 24 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns. He followed that up in the final two games with performances of 61 and 98 yards in the Big Ten Championship and the Citrus Bowl, while notching a touchdown in both. Not as lethal a receiving threat, Porter recorded 9 catches for 57 yards in 2020.

Porter also entered the 2021 season on the watch list for the Doak Walker Award which is presented annually to the best running back in college football.

Redshirt sophomore Evan Hull emerges as the favorite to shoulder the burden in Porter’s absence. With the added losses of running backs Bowser and Drake Anderson to the transfer portal this offseason, Hull is now the only healthy tailback on the roster with double digit carries for the Wildcats. Fans likely remember Hull from his dominant 220-yard, four-touchdown showing against UMass as a first-year in 2019.

Like Porter, Hull also logged a solid game against Illinois in 2020 with 149 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He saw little game action otherwise last year.

Graduate transfer Andrew Clair could also see plenty of action this season as the only other rusher with meaningful college experience. Over 30 games in four years with Bowling Green, Clair recorded 1937 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Clair posted 266 yards on 52 carries last year in a pandemic-shortened season with the Falcons.

Behind Hull and Clair, Marcus Cisco is the only back remaining with collegiate game experience having carried the ball six times last year. True first-year Anthony Tyus III may have the best chance to break out for the ‘Cats as a three-star recruit out of Portage, Michigan.

Northwestern opens its season at home against Michigan State September 3 at 8 p.m. CT on WNUR Sports.