Northwestern football announced its 2017 captains at Meet the Team Night Friday, when Pat Fitzgerald named Godwin Igwebuike, Justin Jackson, Tyler Lancaster and Clayton Thorson as the team's four captains.
Igwebuike is one of the most experienced players on the team, having started 31 games in his career. He's racked up 246 tackles and five interceptions in his career, and he's probably the best NFL prospect on Northwestern's roster. The Ohio native has taken on more of a vocal role this offseason after the loss of Anthony Walker Jr., and will lead a secondary that could be team's best unit.
Jackson is the offense's engine, a quicker-than-fast back who has been a star back for the Wildcats for several years now. Barring an injury, he'll set the Northwestern record for career rushing yards sometime this season, and he's been nothing but class off the field during his time in Evanston (not that the other captains haven't). His ability to work in tight spaces and make defenders miss with ankle-breaking jukes and cuts is incredible. JJ is an absolute superstar, who'd probably be getting more recognition if he played for a bigger program.
After his teammates voted for him to wear the No. 1 — the highest character honor the program has — Tyler Lancaster's inclusion on the captain's list comes as no surprise. He'll anchor a defensive line that has some question marks on the outside, but not the inside. Lancaster and Jordan Thompson will form a defensive tackle duo that's one of the more physical pairs in the conference this season.
The only non-senior captain is quarterback Clayton Thorson, though he's in the same academic year as Jackson. Non-seniors aren't captains all that much for Northwestern, but it's not unprecedented; Walker was a captain last season as redshirt junior also. Thorson will enter 2017 with two full seasons of starting experience under his belt, and he gives the Wildcats one of most stable signal-calling situations in the Big Ten. He took tremendous strides from 2015 to 2016, but he could've been even better with a more consistent offensive line. If the line holds up this season, Thorson could see his NFL stock soar.