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Counting down Northwestern’s roster: 99 to 90

We kick things off with ten linemen and a punter.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 01 Big Ten Championship Game - Northwestern v Ohio State Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’ve gone through practically every component there is with regards to the upcoming Northwestern football season. From positional previews to important players, opponent breakdowns to roundtables, we’ve analyzed all of the pressing topics relating to the team. Now, we’re counting down the roster from 99 to 1, providing a background and outlook for each player on this 2019 NU team.

We start with 99 to 90, where most of the team’s defensive linemen are located.

99: Earnest Brown IV

DE | 6-foot-5, 270 lbs. | Junior | Aubrey, Texas

Likely role in 2019: In the two-deep at defensive end, pass-rush specialist

Brown played in all 14 of Northwestern’s games last year, establishing himself as a reliable and effective pass-rusher. He has excellent size and athleticism, and will likely play a big role in the line’s success this season. Joe Gaziano will certainly start on one side, the question is whether Brown will beat out Samdup Miller for the other starting position on the end/

Career Stats: 25 games, 1 TD, 23 tackles, 4 sacks

98: Duke Olges

DL | 6-foot-4, 272 lbs. | Freshman | Winnetka, Illinois

Likely role in 2019: Redshirt

Olges enters Evanston after a stellar senior season just up the road at New Trier where he amassed 102 tackles and five sacks. It’ll be tough for the freshman to crack the rotation this year, but Fitz prides himself on giving everyone a chance. That being said, NU will likely use this as a redshirt year for Olges.

Career Stats: N/A

97: Joe Gaziano

DL | 6-foot-4, 275 lbs. | Senior | Scituate, Massachusetts

Likely role in 2019: Starter at defensive end

Gaziano is one of the best prospects that will be coming out of the program this year, and has established himself as one of the Big Ten’s elite pass-rushers. He’ll serve as the leader for this unit and will be one of the most important players on the defensive side of the ball. After a year in which the Massachusetts native had three forced fumbles and 7.5 sacks, the expectations are sky-high.

Career Stats: 40 games, 104 tackles, 7 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries

96: Trevor Kent

DL | 6-foot-6, 280 lbs. | Sophomore | Pittsburg, Kansas

Likely role in 2019: In the defensive tackle two-deep

Kent is a promising athlete at 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds, but he hasn’t been able to get consistent playing time in his first two years at Northwestern. A good camp will be crucial for Kent to start the year with some snaps on the field, as he’ll likely be competing with Jake Saunders for the second tackle position alongside Alex Miller.

Career Stats: 8 games, 1 tackle, .5 sacks

95: Alex Miller

DL | 6-foot-3, 300 lbs. | Senior | Houston, Texas

Likely role in 2019: Starter at defensive tackle

With the departure of Jordan Thompson, Miller will play a big role in making sure the run defense remains stout. He also bulked up since last season, as he started the 2018 season at 268 pounds and is now at 300. He has big shoes to fill in leading this NU run defense, and the weight he seems to have put on over the offseason is a good sign that he’s ready to take on the challenge.

Career Stats: 37 games, 48 tackles, 3 sacks, 8 passes defended

94: Jason Gold, Jr.

DE | 6-foot-3, 270 lbs. | Freshman | League City, Texas

Likely role in 2019: Redshirt

Gold enters as a three-star from Texas that chose the ‘Cats over a host of schools such as Arkansas, Boston College, Texas Tech and Virginia Tech. Much like Olges, it’ll be an uphill battle to garner playing time this year, but a strong camp could put him in the mix to get occasional snaps.

Career Stats: N/A

93: Joe Spivak

DL | 6-foot-0, 290 lbs. | Junior | Darien, Illinois

Likely role in 2019: In the defensive tackle two-deep, run-defense specialist

Spivak hasn’t gotten many snaps in his first two years, but that should change this year so long as he’s healthy. He’ll likely be a backup tackle behind Miller and Saunders that will primarily be called upon in short-yardage situations. Spivak is short but stout, and will have a chance to really establish himself in Evanston this year with the team’s uncertainty at defensive tackle.

Career Stats: 15 games, 1 tackle

92: Willy Boatman

DL | 6-foot-2, 270 lbs. | R-Freshman | Denver, Colorado

Likely role in 2019: Competing to get snaps at defensive tackle.

The Denver native transitioned to the defensive side of the ball this year after originally walking on to the team as an offensive lineman. He redshirted his first year on campus and this will be his first year with a real shot to earn playing time. He’s a bit undersized for the position, but will follow the Spivak model in an attempt to earn some playing time this year on the inside.

Career Stats: N/A

91: Samdup Miller

DE | 6-foot-3, 270 lbs. | Junior | Houston, Texas

Likely role in 2019: In the two-deep at defensive end

The younger Miller brother will be competing with Brown for the second end position, but was credited with 14 starts at the position last season. He’s been a prominent member of the ‘Cats defensive line over the past two seasons, and will be an integral part of the team again as an upperclassman. He’s shown ability to rise to the occasion as he notched 14 tackles in last year’s Nebraska game.

Career Stats: 27 games, 85 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 forced fumble

90: Jake Saunders

DE | 6-foot-2, 295 lbs. | Junior | Loveland, Ohio

Likely role in 2019: In the defensive tackle two-deep

Saunders has a chance to find his place at Northwestern this year. He’s only played in three games thru two years in Evanston, but he has a very real opportunity to get quality playing time this year. After redshirting his freshman year and missing all of 2017 with an injury, the Ohio native will likely be battling with Kent for the second starting tackle spot.

Career Stats: 3 games, 1 tackle

90: Jake Genyk

P | 6-foot-3, 203 lbs. | R-Freshman | Middleton, Wisconsin

Likely role in 2019: Backup punter

Son of special teams coach Jeff Genyk, the redshirt freshman likely won’t get on the field this year after the addition of grad transfer Andrew David.

Career Stats: N/A