The InsideNU spring guide is back as we get set for Northwestern’s spring football practice. Practice starts February 26 and runs through the spring game on April 12, with a break for finals and the school’s regularly scheduled spring break. We’ll run through each position unit to let you know what to watch once practice begins.
Returning starters: Dan Vitale (Jr.)
Others returning: Doug Diedrick (Jr.), Jack Schwaba (Jr.), Mark Szott (Jr.), Jayme Taylor (RS Fr.), Malin Jones (So.)
Incoming recruits: Garrett Dickerson
Biggest spring question: Will Dan Vitale be a bigger part of the offense?
Toward the end of the 2012 season, Dan Vitale burst onto the scene with 192 yards on 16 catches against Michigan State and in the Gator Bowl win over Mississippi State.
With that momentum moving into 2013, Vitale was poised to have breakout season. The local product had a huge game in the opener against Cal with 110 yards.
But Vitale didn't break the 60 receiving yard mark the rest of the season.
It seemed as through the offense went away form what was probably one of the team's best playmakers last season. After a somewhat underwhelming season, it would make sense for Vitale to have a major role in the offense as he begins preparations for his junior season.
There were a few times where Northwestern tried to get the ball to Vitale in non-conventional ways as the former high school running back had an 18-yard carry against Iowa.
He's started every game since he's been at Northwestern will undoubtedly need to step up as a vocal leader.
With what could be a more traditional pass-centered offense with Trevor Siemian at the helm, Vitale will be looked upon for both big plays and as a reliable target.
None. Vitale has the starting job locked up but if Dickerson performs well in training camp this summer, he could push veteran players for a spot behind Vitale if he's not redshirted.
Our best guess at the depth chart
Dan Vitale, Malin Jones, Mark Szott