Northwestern true freshman linebacker/superback Tommy Vitale is "expected" to be out for the season with a lower-body injury, according to a team spokesman.
The Daily Northwestern first reported the news on Twitter after talking to Tommy's brother, senior superback Dan Vitale:
Northwestern football injury news: Freshman linebacker Tommy Vitale is likely out for the season, according to his brother Dan.— Daily NU Sports (@DailyNU_Sports) October 13, 2015
Tommy Vitale was injured in Northwestern's Week 5 game against Minnesota. Because he appeared in five games, he will likely not be able to redshirt, meaning he has used one of his four years of eligibility. NCAA rules permit players who have played in less than 30 percent of their team's games to apply for medical redshirts, but Vitale has exceeded that threshold.
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Vitale was one of five Northwestern freshmen to play in their first year on campus. Defensive tackle Jordan Thompson, cornerback Montre Hartage, and receivers Flynn Nagel and Jelani Roberts are the others. Nagel also appeared in five games before suffering a lower-body injury against Minnesota. His timetable is still unclear.
Vitale, while primarily a linebacker, had seen most of his time on special teams as a true freshman. With injuries to superbacks Jayme Tayler (out for season) and Garrett Dickerson (injured in Week 4, missed Week 5), Vitale had also seen time on the offensive side of the ball, especially in short yardage situations.
With Vitale out, the third-string superback would be senior Mark Szott. Northwestern has also begun to use a package with six offensive linemen, with backup guard Connor Mahoney lining up as a tight end.