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Counting down Northwestern’s roster: 59 to 50

“Woah, we’re halfway there.” —Bon Jovi

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Northwestern Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve gone through Northwestern’s most important players, positional previews, and opponent breakdowns. Now, as the season creeps closer, we’re counting down the roster, 99 to 1. We’ll provide biographical information, stats, and an outlook for each player’s role headed into 2018.

Up next are the 50s, highlighted by J.B. Butler and Trent Goens.

59 J.B Butler

OL | 6-foot-3, 308 lbs. | Senior | Plainfield, Ill.

Likely Role in 2018: Starter at left guard

One of three senior starters on the offensive line, Butler has rotated around during his time in Evanston, appearing at both guard positions and center. It’s a prove-it year for the offensive line, as the unit has lots of returning experience. Butler has had two straight solid-but-not-dominant seasons and seems set up for another one in 2018.

Career Stats: 33 career appearances, 16 starts

57 Cam Kolwich

OL | 6-foot-5, 298 lbs. | Sophomore | Beverly Hills, Mich.

Likely Role in 2018: In the two-deep at guard.

Kolwich hasn’t seen any action during his two years in Evanston. He was a top-20 recruit in the state of Michigan and his father played football at Georgia. Kolwich has excellent size at 6-foot-5, and he figures to see some time on special teams or if one of the starters gets hurt.

Career Stats: None

55 Mark Gooden

DE | 6-foot-1, 253 lbs. | Sophomore | Reynoldsburg, Ohio

Likely Role in 2018: Competing to crack the rotation at defensive end

Gooden could be a casualty of Northwestern’s prodigious depth at defensive end. A former three-star recruit, Gooden is a bit small for a defensive end. He’ll have to unseat guys like Tommy Carnifax, Trevor Kent, and Devin O’Rourke to work his way into the defensive end rotation. The Ohio native got into five games last year in backup duty and recorded five tackles.

Career Stats: Five games, five tackles, one tackle for loss.

54 Trent Goens

DL | 6-foot-3, 265 lbs. | Junior | Chino Hills, Calif.

Likely Role in 2018: In the two-deep at defensive end

Goens emerged as an excellent backup defensive end in 2017. In twelve appearances, Goens amassed 5.5 tackles for loss and four sacks, and made his presence felt with big games against Penn State and Purdue. He’ll reprise his role as a backup in 2018, but the Chino Hills native will see plenty of snaps.

Career Stats: 21 appearances, 20 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, four sacks

53 Andrew Leota

DL | 6-foot-4, 239 lbs. | Freshman | Asheville, N.C.

Likely Role in 2018: Competing to crack the defensive end rotation/redshirt

Leota was a defensive end in high school, but he came to Northwestern in the winter at 219 pounds. He’s made plenty of gains since enrolling early, but he’s got a bit more weight to pack on — he’s the lightest defensive lineman on the roster by 15 pounds. Part of a young crop of defensive lineman, Leota probably won’t play much, if at all in 2018.

Career Stats: None

52 Sam Gerak

OL | 6-foot-3, 295 lbs. | Redshirt freshman | Avon, Ohio

Likely Role in 2018: In the two-deep at center

Gerak was one of the top center recruits in the class of 2017, and now he finds himself in a position battle following his redshirt season. Jared Thomas probably has the upper hand at center given his experience, but things can change. Gunnar Vogel won the left tackle job last season before getting usurped by Rashawn Slater rather quickly. Still, it’s good to know Northwestern has a talented lineman with extensive high school experience at center if Thomas struggles early on.

Career Stats: None

51 Blake Gallagher

LB | 6-foot-1, 227 lbs. | Sophomore | Raynham, Mass.

Likely Role in 2018: Starter at WILL linebacker

Gallagher appears to be the front-runner to replace Brett Walsh at the WILL linebacker spot alongside Paddy Fisher and Nate Hall. He’s a bit undersized, but plays physically and flies around the field. The former three-star prospect made his debut as a true freshman against Nevada, and racked up 33 tackles while playing in every game last year.

Career Stats: 13 appearances, 33 tackles, one tackle for loss

50 Jango Glackin

LB | 6-foot, 214 lbs. | Sophomore | Lebanon, Ohio

Likely Role in 2018: In the two-deep at linebacker

Glacklin’s last few years of football have been characterized by injury — he suffered a season-ending injury against Bowling Green last season and also missed time following an injury during his senior year of high school. Glackin’s injury last year opened the door for Blake Gallagher, who played very well and figures to open the season as the opening WILL linebacker. Glackin, who played his senior year of high school at IMG Academy in Florida, will be a key member of the linebacker rotation, competing with Nate Fox and Khalid Jones for playing time.

Career Stats: Two appearances, one tackle