The last time we saw Northwestern going through any sort of practice was over three months ago. And we won't see Pat Fitzgerald's squad in any football setting for another month or so, when the team takes the field in Kenosha, Wisconsin for what is essentially training camp.
In April, the team didn't have it's full complement of players. Some were coming off offseason surgeries. Others were simply rested to avoid injury. When we watch the team in Kenosha in mid-August, this will be very much in play as well, in fact even more steeply. Don't expect for any of the starters — and even some important second-stringers — to take the field for the scrimmage open to the media.
With that in mind, here is our mid-summer depth chart. It takes into account not only what we saw in the spring practices, but also the guys we project might have an impact as true freshmen. Of course, said true freshmen could end up redshirting. There will also be injuries along the way, and we have a long, long way to go before September 3. But below is our best-educated guess of what the depth chart will look like come Week One. (Notes included below)
|Position||1st string||2nd string||3rd string|
|Quarterback||Clayton Thorson (So.)||Matt Alviti (Jr.)||Lloyd Yates (R-Fr.) OR TJ Green (R-Fr.)|
|Running back||Justin Jackson (Jr.)||Warren Long (Sr.)||John Moten IV (R-Fr.) OR Auston Anderson (So.)|
|X Wide receiver||Austin Carr (Sr.)||Andrew Scanlan (Sr.)||Macan Wilson (Jr.)|
|Y Wide receiver||Flynn Nagel (So.)||Charlie Fessler(R-Fr.) OR Ben Skowronek (Fr.)||Cameron Green (R-Fr.) OR Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman (Fr.)|
|Z Wide receiver||Solomon Vault (Jr.)||Marcus McShepard (Jr.) OR Jelani Roberts (So.)||Steven Reese (R-Fr.) OR Riley Lees (Fr.)|
|Superback||Garrett Dickerson (Jr.)||Jayme Taylor (So.)||James Prather (So.)|
|Left tackle||Blake Hance (So.)||Tommy Doles (So.)||Adam Lemke-Bell (R-Fr.)|
|Left guard||Connor Mahoney (Sr.)||Jared Thomas (R-Fr.)||Sam Coverdale (Jr.)|
|Center||Ian Park (Sr.)||Brad North (Jr.)||Jared Thomas (R-Fr.)|
|Right guard||Shane Mertz (Sr.)||J.B. Butler (R-Fr.)||Andrew Otterman (R-Fr.)|
|Right tackle||Eric Olson (Sr.)||Ben Oxley (So.)||Graham Bullmore (Jr.)|
|Defensive end||Ifeadi Odenigbo (Sr.)||Trent Goens (R-Fr.)||Tommy Carnifax (Fr.)|
|Defensive tackle||C.J. Robbins (Sr.)||Greg Kuhar (Sr.)||Fred Wyatt (So.)|
|Defensive tackle||Tyler Lancaster (Jr.)||Jordan Thompson (So.)||Jake Saunders (Fr.) OR Alex Miller (Fr.)|
|Defensive end||Xavier Washington (Jr.)||Joe Gaziano (R-Fr.)||Heath Reineke (So.)|
|SAM||Jaylen Prater (Sr.)||Joseph Jones (Sr.)||Josh Roberts (Jr.) OR Simba Short (R-Fr.)|
|MIKE||Anthony Walker (Jr.)||Cameron Queiro (So.)||Nathan Fox (R-Fr.)|
|WILL||Nate Hall (So.)||Brett Walsh (Jr.)||Tommy Vitale (So.) OR Jango Glackin (Fr.)|
|Cornerback||Matthew Harris (Sr.)||Montre Hartage (So.)||Roderick Campbell (Fr.)|
|Safety||Godwin Igwebuike (Jr.)||Jared McGee (So.)||Tommy Odell (Jr.)|
|Safety||Kyle Queiro (Jr.)||Jake Murray (R-Fr.)||Parrker Westphal (So.)|
|Cornerback||Keith Watkins (Jr.)||Trae Williams (R-Fr.)||Alonzo Mayo (R-Fr.)|
A few notes on this depth chart:
- I tried to avoid the infamous Pat Fitzgerald "OR" that is so common on the actual depth chart. The spots where I used OR are for either third-stringers or positions where we truly do not know what the depth looks like (read: wide receiver).
- A way in which this depth chart is similar to what we'll see come game week and dissimilar from what we've put out so far is that each player is only listed once per string. For example, we've projected Tommy Doles to be the primary backup at both tackle spots throughout the offseason, and he very well may be that if either Blake Hance or Eric Olson go down. But if Fitzgerald were to roll out exclusively second-stringers, it couldn't possibly include Doles at both positions, Hence, he's only listed at one spot, but could very well man two by the time the season rolls around.
- In order to examine how "old" Northwestern's starting lineups are, I used a 1-4 scale, with 1 being someone holding freshman eligibilty and 4 holding senior eligibility. So sixth-years C.J. and Shane Mertz are a 4 on the scale. According to this depth chart, the starters on offense have an average age of 3.18. Rounding down, this means the average starter on the offense is a junior in terms of eligibility. The offensive line, with four projected senior starters, is the most experienced unit on the team. There are three projected starting underclassmen: Thorson, Nagel and Hance.
- Defensively, the average eligibility is 3.27, and only one underclassman, Nate Hall, is a projected starter.
- Overall, this projection has nine senior starters, nine junior starters and four sophomore starters.