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Notes from Northwestern practice in Kenosha: August 12

Learn about the specialists, Venric's suspension, the freshmen who could player early and more.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Check out notes from a rainy, cold, miserable first day in Kenosha.

- Hunter Niswander is out with injury, so Jack Mitchell and Arthur Omillian were kicking today. Both had some nice 50-yarders in the rain, but they were also erratic, missing pretty badly when they were off center That will be one to watch — as will Niswander's injury — as camp progresses. Matt Micucci is also in the mix, according to Mitchell.

- Zack Oliver is still No. 2 on the depth chart, but it was interesting to see Matt Alviti running the option with Venric Mark at one point. I'm skeptical we'll see a lot of that (if at all) this season, since Trevor Siemian is very much "the guy," but it was noteworthy to see during practice.

- Solomon Vault has been practicing as both a running back and slot receiver. That will obviously bring about Venric comparisons, but Vault is bigger. He's going to be a great asset for NU down the road.

- Running backs coach Matt MacPherson has been "extremely pleased" with Vault and Justin Jackson. We could see them both on the field this year.

- The defensive tackles have a good position battle going among Gerg Kuhar, Chance Carter and C.J. Robbins. Expect that to continue throughout camp.

- Jimmy Hall and Drew Smith are fighting for the starting spot at SAM linebacker, but Fitz characterized that as a different situation than the other position battles. He said they'll both play a lot.

- Xavier Washington has been a very impressive freshman at defensive end. He was lightly recruited but came from the impressive Cedar Hill program in Texas. There's a chance he could see the field this year, and judging off his early play and the coaches' praise, he's a guy to watch down the road.

- Fitz called the O'Bannon suit and the other lawsuits a "colossal waste of time." He wasn't interested in reading the whole resolution and seemed skeptical that it solved anything or benefited athletes.

- Venric said it was "shocking" to miss the first two games, but he's disappointed and accepted responsibility. He found out in mid-June and told the team before it was released to the public. "Does it hurt? Yeah, it hurts pretty bad." As Venric mentioned and our Henry Bushnell wrote, NU does have great running back depth to lean on.

- Fitz didn't want to anger a whole state like he did to Nebraska, so he didn't say Kenosha is terrible, as we wrote. But he did say his favorite part about it was a player was leaving. (Also the Brat Stop).