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Northwestern football: Marcus McShepard, Steven Reese to move to wide receiver

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Both players have switched from defense back.

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

EVANSTON -- Marcus McShepard will officially make a position switch from defensive back to wide receiver during spring practice, head coach Pat Fitzgerald said Tuesday. Steven Reese, a freshman who redshirted last season, will also switch from defensive back to wide receiver.

The former defensive backs join former running back Solomon Vault as players making an official switch to wide receiver this offseason.

The speedy McShepard, who will be a redshirt junior, played some wide receiver in high school but ultimately chose to focus on defense because one of his high school teammates needed more pass-catching opportunities to put on film as part of the college recruiting process. At 5-foot-11, McShepard doesn't have elite size, but his speed will be his biggest asset on offense.

"We just felt like his skillset athletically was better than being on the sideline," Fitzgerald said after his team's first spring practice. "He's been basically the third or fourth corner his whole career and this gives him an opportunity to compete to start right away. If today was any indication, I think we made the right choice."

Reese also played some wide receiver in high school and practiced on offense during the lead up to the Outback Bowl this past December. Reese is a bit bigger than McShepard at 6-foot-2.

As far as how the changes impact the defensive back depth chart, Parrker Westphal, Alonzo Mayo and Montre Hartage will probably compete for the now-vacated third cornerback spot. Reese, though, didn't figure to see much time playing at safety.

Reese, based on his size, seems like a likely candidate to play on the outside. McShepard could be a factor both inside and outside. He and Vault will provide an added dimension of athleticism that Northwestern's passing offense missed last season.