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Northwestern player quotes from Big Ten Media Days

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Clayton Thorson, Nate Hall, and Montre Hartage talked to the press yesterday. Here are some highlights from their availabilities.

Three of Northwestern’s senior leaders were at the Chicago Marriott yesterday to discuss the 2018 season. Full stories will be on our site over the next few days, but for now, here are highlights from Clayton Thorson, Nate Hall, and Montre Hartage when they took spoke to the media.

Clayton Thorson

On his wedding: “Did a bunch of dancing, jumping around, it was a lot of fun. I told my wife [one thing] I won’t do is bring a football.”

On his knee and injury status after tearing his ACL in the Music City Bowl: “My goal has always been to play on August 30 and our doctors are doing a great job of putting me in the best chance to do that. I’m setting myself up in a good spot to do that, sometimes things are out of my control but I’m starting to feel like myself again. I’ve been cleared for everything in camp.”

On his current physical limitations: “None, nothing.”

On the offense: “We’re returning seven starters and we have Jeremy Larkin stepping in for Justin Jackson, we have Cam Green, we have a lot of guys that can step up. The guys at receiver have really stepped up this summer. We have great competitive depth [chuckles].”

On Jeremy Larkin: “He has these pigeon toes that make it hard for him to go down. [Mimes Larkin’s running style] That’s why he doesn’t go down. Alex Spanos [Northwestern strength coach] calls him pigeon. It’s awesome.”

On his goals for camp: “To get the ball out quicker. In the first five games of the year we had 30 sacks, and that’s on me and the o-line. But in the last eight we only had eight. That’s a massive improvement and something I need to work on [consistently].”

Nate Hall

On his knee injury/rehab: “I’m feeling good, I’m taking it day by day. At this point in the process you have to take it day by day, you have to reevaluate yourself, understand your weaknesses and try to strengthen those up so you can play to the best of your ability come week one. But everything’s going well right now, everybody seems optimistic and I’m optimistic.”

On his connection with Paddy Fisher: “It’s the chemistry you develop on and off the field and in practice. Just to know that I can call something or I can look at Paddy and we can just make eye contact and understand what’s going on, and I can trust him to be in the gap and play off of him, that’s the special thing about chemistry in football...just to have that trust and that bond.”

On extending that connection to the third starting linebacker: “It’s Paddy and I’s jobs to bring that third guy along with us, whoever that may be, and develop that chemistry, play fast and physical and know that that guy is going to go out and do it.”

On Blake Gallagher: “Blake was a true freshman last year. People forget how young this kid was— 18 out there playing against 22-year-old guys with 30 starts. Blake’s a real physical player, I think that’s how he sets himself apart. Especially early on in his career he’s coming downhill really hard and smacking people in the mouth.”

On building off of last year’s run defense: “We pride ourselves on stopping the run. Especially in the Big Ten, if you want to win games you have to stop the run. So we have confidence in that, but it’s a new year, new front 7, new offenses with people attacking in different ways.”

Montre Hartage

On safeties graduating and its effect on his leadership: “I think initially just becoming more vocal as a leader. I know that we have a lot of young guys who are coming in and trying to fill those roles so just being more vocal and teaching guys the way of how we do things.”

On JR Pace: “A guy like JR brings a lot of energy to the table, he’s dynamic in different ways. I’m looking forward to him stepping in, he’s one of my younger guys from Georgia and we’ve developed a relationship over time...he will have the opportunity to potentially step into the role and dominate.”

On coming in as a late recruit, now being an NFL prospect: “It’s always been a day one goal that I wanted to accomplish even as a young kid, now I’ve been given the opportunity to showcase my talent on platforms such as Northwestern and the Big Ten...I think it gives me leverage to showcase what I can bring to the table.”

On the mental challenge of the three straight overtime games last year: “Back to back to back just...being at a position where you have to compete each down and win in order to succeed and to be looked at as a potential competitor in the Big Ten.”

More on the overtime games and how they were able to be prepared for them: “In the OT games, when we need a stop, when we need a play, guys step up...it shows our situational awareness.”

On Thorson’s strengths: “Definitely the intangible skills such as leadership and his decision making. He’s the guy. He has to be the leader, he has to put guys in the right situation, he has to build chemistry with guys and I think that’s the overarching theme that he has built for the offense.”