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Counting down Northwestern’s roster: 29-20

We’re high-stepping into the 20s.

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Northwestern Kamil Krzaczynski-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.

Next up are numbers 29 to 20, featuring defensive backs, running backs and a lone linebacker.

29 Greg Newsome II

CB | 6-foot-1, 182 lbs. | Freshman | Chicago, Ill.

Likely Role in 2018: Competing for snaps at cornerback

A true freshman, Newsome enrolled early in the spring and should see the field early and often. He could challenge for second-team snaps at corner, but defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz must be intrigued with Newsome’s size and the prospect of using him at a nickel position that rewards physicality. Newsome eschewed offers from Arkansas, Boston College, Duke, Iowa, Minnesota, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and others to come to Evanston. He can make an immediate impact.

Career Stats: None

28 Jeremy Larkin

RB | 5-foot-10, 197 lbs. | Sophomore | Cincinnati, Ohio

Likely Role in 2018: Starting running back

Pat Fitzgerald’s mimeograph machine did its best to duplicate Justin Jackson. What Larkin doesn’t quite have yet is Jackson’s vision, but he makes up for it with better speed than the program’s all-time leading rusher. There are plenty of reasons to be excited about Larkin. I’ll give you two; his patience on a 24-yard touchdown run against Nebraska and a 64-yard scamper in the Music City Bowl. Worried about Larkin’s size and being able to shoulder the feature back workload? You shouldn’t be.

Career Stats: 84 carries, 503 yards, five touchdowns

28 Chris Bergin

LB | 5-foot-11, 213 lbs. | Sophomore | Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Likely Role in 2018: Special teams/reserve linebacker

Bergin was one of 12 freshman to play last season. Against Bowling Green, with the linebacker corps decimated by injuries, he saw late-game snaps and recorded four tackles including one for a loss. With added depth at the position, Bergin should continue to contribute as a reserve linebacker and on special teams.

Career Stats: 11 games played, 12 total tackles

27 Jeremiah McDonald

DB | 6-foot-3, 200 lbs. | Freshman | Slidell, La.

Likely Role in 2018: Special teams/reserve safety

6-foot-3 is no exaggeration. McDonald enrolled early and immediately became Northwestern’s biggest defensive back. For comparison, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor are also 6-foot-3 DBs. Derrick Henry is 6-foot-3, as well. Although he wasn’t running with the second unit in Kenosha, McDonald could see the field in a reserve role or as a hulking member on special teams.

Career Stats: None

26 Brian Bullock

DB | 5-foot-11, 189 lbs. | Sophomore | Round Rock, Texas

Likely Role in 2018: Competing for snaps at safety

It sounds like Bullock is making the transition to safety. The sophomore played in the season opener against Nevada but was injured on a timely pass breakup in the fourth quarter. He was carted off the field and underwent season-ending foot surgery. We expect Jared McGee and JR Pace to start at safety, but Bullock provides depth and it’s great to hear he’s healthy.

Career Stats: One game played

25 Austin Hiller

DB | 6-foot-2, 210 lbs. | Redshirt freshman | Lakeway, Texas

Likely Role in 2018: Special teams/reserve safety

Hiller came into Evanston a bit banged up, underwent surgery and wasn’t in pads at all last season. With Travis Whillock healthy and Bullock and Bryce Jackson making the transition to safety, it sounds like there’s renewed depth in the secondary. Look for Hiller to make his impact on special teams this season.

Career Stats: None

25 Isaiah Bowser

RB | 6-foot-1, 216 lbs. | Freshman | Sidney, Ohio

Likely Role in 2018: Backup running back

There’s no way Isaiah Bowser is sitting a year. After putting up video game numbers (5,482 rushing yards, 695 receiving yards and 75 touchdowns) in high school, Bowser graduated early and joined the program in the spring. He’s Northwestern’s biggest back and provides a bruising downhill running style that will compliment Larkin nicely.

Career Stats: None

24 Montre Hartage

DB | 6-foot, 195 lbs. | Senior | Cordele, Ga.

Likely Role in 2018: Starting cornerback

Hartage is the metronome of consistency in a secondary losing Kyle Queiro and Godwin Igwebuike. There’s not much more that needs to be said here. Likely a captain, the senior will be tasked with defending opposing No. 1’s on a weekly basis. Stanley Morgan, Felton Davis, Quintez Cephus, Tarik Black, Tyler Johnson and Malik Boykin will all have their hands full with Hartage.

Career Stats: 121 tackles, 24 passes defended, eight interceptions

24 Alex Bousky

K | 5-foot-11, 193 lbs. | Senior | Peoria, Ill.

Likely Role in 2018: Backup kicker

For those who are uninformed, it behooves me to share the story of Alex Bousky. On second thought, you’re going to have to read the feature later this season. We need more self-promotion on Inside NU.

Bousky is competing for the backup kicker job. It’s exciting. You should be excited to read about it. I’ll leave it at that.

Career Stats: One rush for five yards and a first down (higher career average than Justin Jackson)

23 Steven Reese

WR | 6-foot-2, 212 lbs. | Junior | Buford, Ga.

Likely Role in 2018: Special teams/reserve safety

Reese contributed on special teams as a sophomore but was sidelined with an injury last season. Although he’s listed as a wide receiver on the roster, he’s been taking snaps at safety in training camp. It makes sense given the depth at wideout. Reese also starred at safety at Buford High School. It’s encouraging to hear he’s healthy and should hopefully contribute on special teams again.

Career Stats: 10 games played, three total tackles

22 Bryce Jackson

DB | 6-foot-1, 190 lbs. | Redshirt freshman | Lantana, Texas

Likely Role in 2018: Competing for snaps at safety

Last season, there was talk that Jackson would have to change positions and join a depleted cornerback unit. Now, the redshirt freshman is a second-team safety and is tasked filling the void left by the departures of Igwebuike and Queiro.

Career Stats: None

21 Drake Anderson

RB | 5-foot-11, 181 lbs. | Freshman | Chandler, Ariz.

Likely Role in 2018: Redshirt

Anderson is probably the shiftiest of Northwestern’s running backs. It will be interesting to see if Fitzgerald and Mick McCall find a way to incorporate him in the offense, but with all the competitive depth in the backfield, there probably aren’t enough touches to go around. It makes a lot of sense to redshirt Anderson.

Career Stats: None

20 John Moten IV

RB | 6-foot, 209 lbs. | Junior | St. Louis, Mo.

Likely Role in 2018: Backup running back

One year removed from rushing for 340 yards and earning a pair of Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors, Moten saw his carries fall from 57 to 17 as he lost touches to Jeremy Larkin. Moten remains a significant part of the backfield, and he’s still Northwestern’s biggest home run threat; he won the 2014 state championship in the 100-meter dash (10.58 seconds). Larkin is going to start, but Moten’s touches should easily eclipse last season’s total.

Career Stats: 74 carries, 395 yards, two touchdowns