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Counting down Northwestern’s roster: 29-20

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Defensive backs, running backs, and Chris Bergin.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Northwestern Mike DiNovo-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’re getting closer to the end (and therefore Stanford)! It’s time for the 20s, including dome vital members of both the defensive and offensive backfields.

29 Tyler Haskins

CB | 5-foot-11, 180 pounds | First-year | Stafford, Virginia.

Likely role in 2019: Redshirt

Like all first-year walk-ons, Haskins faces a tough uphill battle when it comes to seeing playing time, but a thin group of cornerbacks might give him a better chance of reaching the field compared to his fellow first-years. Haskins’ best shot of contributing this early in his career will probably come on special teams.

Career Stats: None

28 Chris Bergin

LB | 5-foot-11, 215 pounds | Junior | Bloomfield Hills, Michigan .

Likely role in 2019: Starting SAM linebacker

As it stands, Bergin is the guy we should expect to see in the third linebacking slot when the Wildcats take the field two weekends from now. He made four starts last year as Nate Hall battled injuries throughout the year, and impressed with over 50 tackles on the season. He’ll be more likely to rotate out compared to his fellow starters Paddy Fisher and Blake Gallagher, but Bergin appears to be the best and most experienced option at strong-side linebacker heading into 2019.

Career stats: 25 games/63 tackles/4 TFL/1 sack/2 fumble recoveries

27 Coco Azema

DB | 5-foot-11, 185 pounds | First-year | Cypress, Texas.

Likely role in 2019: Competing for a spot in the two-deep at safety

Northwestern’s starting safeties are locked in with JR Pace and Travis Whillock, but Azema could make some noise battling for a spot in the two-deep against some of the rather inexperienced sophomores on the Wildcats’ roster. Azema is another product of the Texas pipeline: he hails from the Houston suburbs, not too far away from where guys like Paddy Fisher and Whillock grew up playing.

Career stats: None

26 Evan Hull

RB | 5-foot-11, 192 pounds | First-year | Maple Grove, Minnesota.

Likely role in 2019: Redshirt

The Minnesota native had two Power Five offers from Northwestern and Kansas State and chose to go with the better of the two Purple Wildcats. Barring an injury, a redshirt seems likely for the three-star prospect.

Career stats: None

26 Brian Bullock

DB | 5-foot-11, 195 pounds | Sophomore | Round Rock, Texas.

Likely role in 2019: Competing for a role in the two-deep at defensive back

Brian Bullock from Round Rock. LOVE the alliteration going on there. The redshirt sophomore saw three appearances at safety last season and could slot into the two-deep there, but also has the chance to see the field rotationally as the dime or nickel back.

Career stats: One pass breakup

25 Isaiah Bowser

RB | 6-foot-1, 215 pounds | Sophomore | Sidney, Ohio.

Likely role in 2019: Starting running back

He’s very big. He’s very strong. He’s very good, and will hopefully continue to improve. He’s the starting running back. Please stay healthy.

Career stats: 197 carries/886 yards/6 touchdowns/4.4 YPC

24 Rod Heard

DB | 5-foot-10, 175 pounds | First-year | Farmington, Michigan.

Likely role in 2019: Competing for time in the two-deep in the secondary

As an early enrollee, Heard has been with the Wildcats since the winter, thus leading us to believe that he might be farther along than some other first-years in terms of his development. He played cornerback in high school but is listed as a DB on the roster, meaning he might get some looks at safety in his first season. If the Wildcats stay healthy in the secondary, there’s no reason to burn his redshirt.

Career stats: None

23 Donovan Sermons

DB | 5-foot-11, 192 pounds | Redshirt sophomore | Pomona, California.

Likely role in 2019: Reserve safety

The Southern California native is yet to see action since redshirting in 2017, and it’s hard to believe that much is going to change this season with a few younger pieces stepping into the secondary this year. The former walk-on probably won’t be anything more than a backup in 2019.

Career stats: None

23 Ray Niro III

WR | 5-foot-10, 183 pounds | Redshirt first-year | Barrington, Ill.

Likely role in 2019: Special teams, reserve receiver

The former high school dual-threat quarterback from the Chicago suburbs maintained his redshirt last season while contributing some on kickoff return. Niro will likely continue to primarily see his work on special teams while hoping to work his way into a few snaps as a slot receiver.

Career stats: None

22 Connor Newhouse

RB | 5-foot-11, 187 pounds | First-year| Prospect, Kentucky

Likely role in 2019: Redshirt

Barring injury or some other crazy sequence of events, no reason to believe Newhouse will not redshirt.

Career stats: None

22 Bryce Jackson

DB | 6-foot-1, 185 pounds | Redshirt sophomore | Lantana, Texas.

Likely role in 2019: In the two-deep at safety

After the projected safety starters in JR Pace and Travis Whillock, Jackson is the next man up. He played in all 14 games last year’s while notching 8 tackles on the season. With three years of eligibility left, this could be a critical year from Jackson to develop behind two great starters at safety with hopes of Jackson emerging as a crucial part of this safety unit in years to come.

Career stats: 14 games, 8 tackles

21 Cameron Mitchell

DB | 5-foot-11, 192 pounds | First-year | Bolingbrook, Illinois.

Likely role in 2019: Redshirt

The ‘Cats were the source of the only Power Five offer Mitchell received, and he is another one of many young faces joining the Northwestern secondary unit this season. 2019 will be important season for many of those payers to learn from and develop behind a talented group of older safeties.

Career stats: None

20 John Moten IV

RB | 6-foot-0, 210 pounds | Senior | St. Louis, Missouri.

Likely role in 2019: Lead change-of-pace running back, special teams contributor

Moten will be hungry to play a big part of the Northwestern offense in 2019. His workload won’t match Bowser’s, but as the primary source of speed within the NU backfield, the fifth-year senior will undoubtedly have his fair share of carries and chances to rip off some big plays like he did in last year’s Big Ten Championship. Moten also poses more of a threat in the passing game compared to the more inside-running minded Bowser.

Career stats: 120 carries, 599 rushing yards, 5 TDs, 5.0 YPC, 12 catches, 106 yards