clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Counting down Northwestern’s roster: 99 to 90

There are 106 players listed on the Wildcat roster. We’re going through each player, one by one.

NCAA Football: Pinstripe Bowl-Northwestern vs Pittsburgh William Hauser-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.

We start with numbers 99 to 90, all defensive linemen.

99 Jordan Thompson

DL | 6-foot-3, 293 lbs. | Senior | Cincinnati, Ohio

Likely Role in 2018: Starter at defensive tackle

One of the most experienced defensive players on the roster, Thompson has started 23 consecutive games at defensive tackle for the Wildcats. Of course, Tyler Lancaster is gone now, and it will be up to Thompson and Alex Miller to generate the crucial push up front and clog holes for running backs. The top recruit in Northwestern’s 2015 class, Thompson has contributed more and more each year in Evanston. The question becomes whether he can take his game to an All-Big Ten level in his final season. With limited experience at defensive tackle, it’s an important question.

Career Stats: 25 starts, 61 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble

98 Earnest Brown IV

DE | 6-foot-5, 254 lbs. | Sophomore | Aubrey, Texas

Likely Role in 2018: In the two-deep at defensive end, pass-rush specialist

Brown was one of the top recruits in talent-rich Texas, and he burned his redshirt in his first game at Northwestern. He saw action in 11 of 13 games last season, but didn’t register much of an impact. Still, Brown’s size and athleticism (he ran track and played basketball in high school) are tantalizing. He figures to slot in as a second-string defensive end who will pin his ears back on third down when Joe Gaziano moves inside.

Career Stats: 11 appearances, one tackle, one hurry

97 Joe Gaziano

DL | 6-foot-4, 275 lbs. | Junior | Scituate, Mass.

Likely Role in 2018: Starter at defensive end

Gaziano and Samdup Miller bookend what should be an excellent defensive line for Northwestern. In 2017, the Massachusetts native developed into one of the best defensive lineman in the Big Ten, pacing the conference with eight regular season sacks and earning All-Big Ten honors. Gaziano creates disruptions in the backfield by overpowering offensive linemen, at the line of scrimmage by batting down passes, and in the open field by forcing fumbles. He’s going to get a lot more attention from opposing linemen this year.

Career Stats: 13 starts, 19 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, seven passes defensed, four forced fumbles

96 Trevor Kent

DE | 6-foot-6, 274 lbs. | Redshirt freshman | Pittsburg, Kan.

Likely Role in 2018: In the rotation at defensive end

Kent was a top-15 defensive end recruit out of Kansas in 2017, but redshirted his first season on campus. At 6-foot-6, only Ben Oxley can match Kent in height. Northwestern has a solid four or five-man rotation at defensive end already, but Kent could work his way onto the field by turning heads in camp.

Career Stats: Redshirted in 2017

95 Alex Miller

DL | 6-foot-3, 268 lbs. | Junior | Houston, Texas

Likely Role in 2018: Likely starter at defensive tackle

The elder Miller brother, Alex was one of only three true freshman to see the field in 2016. During his sophomore campaign, Miller was a valuable part of the defensive tackle rotation. Miller is a little smaller for defensive tackle at 268 pounds, but showed some disruptive ability with five passes knocked away in 2017. He’ll likely step into a starting role at tackle alongside Jordan Thompson.

Career Stats: 26 appearances, 4.5 tackles for loss, six passes defensed, two sacks

94 Tommy Carnifax

DE | 6-foot-3, 279 lbs. | Sophomore | Warren, Ohio

Likely Role in 2018: Competing to break into defensive end rotation

One of the top recruits in Northwestern’s 2016 class, Carnifax enrolled early and redshirted his freshman year. He didn’t crack the defensive line rotation in 2017, tallying four appearances and one tackle. The Ohio native will probably have to leap over Trent Goens and Earnest Brown IV to see his name on the two-deep at defensive end.

Career Stats: Four appearances, one tackle

93 Joe Spivak

DL | 6-foot, 293 lbs. | Sophomore | Darien, Ill.

Likely Role in 2018: Backup defensive tackle

Spivak went semi-viral back on signing day in 2017 when he chose to walk-on at Northwestern over Michigan State and an old photo of Spivak from high school resurfaced.

Great stuff.

Spivak is short for a defensive tackle, but he managed to see the field in five games as a true freshman last year. His skills set lies in taking on double teams, which limits his upside compared to larger, more disruptive defensive tackles. Still, Northwestern is thin in the middle, so Spivak should see some snaps.

Career Stats: Five appearances, one tackle

92 Fred Wyatt

DL | 6-foot-4, 288 lbs. | Senior | Lawrence, Kan.

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

The son of Buddy Wyatt, a former Northwestern defensive line coach, the native Kansan has appeared in every game each of the past two years. Wyatt hasn’t been particularly disruptive as a backup defensive tackle, but he’s got plenty of experience and good size for the position. He’ll see plenty of snaps in a backup role to Jordan Thompson and Alex Miller.

Career Stats: 26 appearances, 29 tackles, three tackles for loss, one pass defensed

91 Samdup Miller

DL | 6-foot-3, 258 lbs. | Sophomore | Houston, Texas

Likely Role in 2018: Starter at defensive end

Miller burst onto the scene as one of the best first-year defensive ends in the country in 2017. One of the best defensive tackle recruits in Texas, Miller enrolled early at Northwestern and earned the starting defensive end role for the opener. An exceptionally strong defensive end, Miller will try to build on an outstanding freshman season. He recorded a touchdown on a fumble recovery against Illinois, one of two defensive touchdowns for the Wildcats in 2017.

Career Stats: 13 starts, 8.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, one touchdown.

90 Jake Saunders

DT | 6-foot-2, 300 lbs. | Sophomore | Loveland, Ohio

Likely Role in 2018: Backup defensive tackle

Saunders missed all of 2017 with an injury after redshirting in 2016. Tipping the scales at 300 pounds, he’s the heaviest defensive lineman on the team, but he’s projected to be a third-stringer headed into camp. A former three-star recruit, Saunders helped his high school team to a 15-0 record and a state championship during his senior year.

Career Stats: None