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Northwestern football depth chart: Final spring projections

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We've made some changes at wide receiver, on the offensive line, and at linebacker.

Northwestern football wrapped up its spring Saturday with a crisp indoor practice. It was the final of 15 spring sessions for the Wildcats, though only two of the 15 were open to media, and none were open to fans (due to weather).

We gave you our observations from practice on April 2 and April 9. The following depth chart reflects what we saw at practice, what we already know, what we've heard throughout the spring, and any other pertinent information.

That being said, it is still nothing more than an educated guess at how things stand several months away from the season. Plenty will change between now and September; injuries will take their toll; players will separate themselves from others.

As of now, here's how we see things:

Incoming freshmen are only listed to fill in numbers where necessary. Notes and explanations are below.

1st string 2nd string 3rd string
Quarterback Clayton Thorson Matt Alviti Lloyd Yates/T.J. Green
Running back Justin Jackson Warren Long John Moten
X-receiver Austin Carr Andrew Scanlan Jelani Roberts
Y-receiver Solomon Vault Flynn Nagel Cam Green
Z-receiver Marcus McShepard Charlie Fessler Steven Reese
Superback Garrett Dickerson Jayme Taylor James Prather
Left tackle Blake Hance Ben Oxley Sam Coverdale
Left guard Connor Mahoney J.B. Butler Andrew Otterman
Center Brad North Jared Thomas Ian Park
Right guard Ian Park Shane Mertz Graham Bullmore
Right tackle Eric Olson Tommy Doles Adam Lemke-Bell
1st string 2nd string 3rd string
Defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo Trent Goens Tommy Carnifax
Defensive tackle Jordan Thompson C.J. Robbins Jake Saunders
Defensive tackle Tyler Lancaster Fred Wyatt Greg Kuhar
Defensive end Xavier Washington Joe Gaziano Heath Reineke
SAM linebacker Joe Jones Jaylen Prater Josh Roberts
MIKE linebacker Anthony Walker Cameron Queiro Nathan Fox
WILL linebacker Nate Hall Brett Walsh Tommy Vitale
Cornerback Matthew Harris Trae Williams Alonzo Mayo
Safety Godwin Igwebuike Jared McGee Tommy Odell
Safety Kyle Queiro Jake Murray Parrker Westphal
Cornerback Keith Watkins Montre Hartage Roderick Campbell
1st String 2nd String 3rd String
Kicker Jack Mitchell Mason Weissenhoffer Matt Micucci
Punter Hunter Niswander Matt Micucci
Kick returner Solomon Vault Jelani Roberts Auston Anderson
Punt returner Matt Harris Jelani Roberts Marcus McShepard
Long snapper Chris Fitzpatrick Holder Hunter Niswander

Notes/explanations

- We put Austin Carr as a starter out wide rather than in the slot, and while he is probably the most likely of Northwestern's slot receivers to be able to handle that shift, he's still a better fit inside. It wouldn't be at all a surprise in four wide receiver sets for Northwestern to leave Vault or Nagel off the field, even if they are perhaps better overall wideouts than either Scanlan or Fessler. Scanlan seems to be in the second spot of true outside receivers behind McShepard. It also wouldn't be a surprise to see one of the true freshman wide receivers sneak into the rotation, but it's difficult to project any of them in there just yet.

- The offensive line is hard to pin down. Three of the starting spots are locked up with Hance at one tackle spot, Olson at the other, and Mahoney in at one of the guard spots. Ian Park is likely going to start, the question is if he will go to guard or center. If he's at guard, North would probably start at center, and if Park is at center, Mertz and North would battle for that spot.

- The third running back spot is still a competition and will continue to be fought for through the fall, but Moten appears to be the leader for now. That isn't to say that Anderson won't ever see the field, but Moten looks comfortably ahead right now to our eyes.

- It's a little unfair to list any of Robbins, Thompson, or Lancaster as backups, as all three will be rotated early and often. Those three are competing for two spots and while we have Thompson and Lancaster on top, Robbins is a de facto third starter. It also wouldn't be at all surprising to see Robbins or Thompson in at defensive ends in certain situations. Northwestern is going to need those three guys in as often as possible.