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The unofficial Northwestern football all-decade two-deep: Defense edition

Not many points would be scored on this squad.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern’s football program has seen exponential growth in the past decade, thanks to the production of a number of players that have established themselves as program greats throughout the past 10 years. From quarterbacks to kickers, we took a look at the depth chart of the decade.

In this edition, we move on to the second out of the three phases, where there is plenty of talent still to be had. Reminder: this team’s selection is based solely on each player’s Northwestern career. Without further ado:

Defensive Linemen

First Team: Joe Gaziano, 2015-2019

NCAA Football: Iowa at Northwestern Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

A legend in Evanston, Gaziano is the all-time Northwestern sack leader, and was a dominant force on Fitz’s defensive line for 152 tackles and 49 tackles for loss. The Massachusetts native was a dependable player as well as an incredibly talented one, and he’ll be sorely missed in the future.

First Team: Vince Browne, 2010-2011

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Browne was a three-down end that did it all in Evanston. His stats are impressive alone, as he amassed 19 sacks and 159 tackles, in addition to a host of award candidacies, but his tireless work ethic defined his Northwestern career. It’s no wonder why the Lisbon, Ohio native was so well-regarded throughout his time with the Wildcats.

First Team: Dean Lowry, 2012-2015

Lowry was an all-around defensive end that was extremely productive throughout his final three years in Evanston. The now-Packers lineman recorded 139 tackles and 12.5 sacks as a Northwestern player. At one of the most stacked positions in this roster, Lowry stands out.

First Team: Tyler Lancaster, 2013-2017

NCAA Football: Iowa at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

If you look for the definition of a player that will always give max effort, Lancaster is the first name that will come up. Honored with the notable number one jersey in his senior season, he was a well-respected leader that dealt with double teams throughout his career. He cracks the first team due to his all around talent and intangibles, because though the stats weren’t always fully there, Lancaster always made every player around him better.

Second Team: Tyler Scott, 2010-2013

Scott’s junior and senior years defined his career Over the two year period, he notched 89 tackles and 15 sacks, establishing himself as a reliable player and a solid leader on the line. Those numbers make him more than a worthy candidate to round out the decade’s best defensive ends.

Second Team: Ifeadi Odenigbo, 2013-2016

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The all-time highest rated recruit in the history of the program, Odenigbo followed through on his potential. With 23.5 sacks during his time in Evanston, he was a force off the edge, combining size and speed to get to the quarterback. Odenigbo will always be one of the finest pass-rushers to have come through Northwestern, and that earns him his place here.

Second Team: Jordan Thompson

NCAA Football: Music Bowl-Kentucky vs Northwestern Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Yet another legendary Wildcat, Thompson served as a reliable tackle in Evanston throughout his career. Part of a defensive line that helped NU reach the Big Ten championship, 99’s lovable personality only added to his aura of a fun-loving player that was able to turn it on when on the field, eating up double teams and getting into the backfield with the best of them.

Second Team: Corbin Bryant, 2010

The tackle’s senior 2010 season on its own earns him a place on this list. With 89 tackles, a whopping 19.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, he had a substantial impact on the defensive line. The year alone earned him draft stock and a lot of respect from Wildcat faithful, and was arguably the best single season put together by a Wildcat lineman over the course of the decade.

Honorable Mentions: Deonte Gibson, Alex Miller, C.J. Robbins


First Team: Chi Chi Ariguzo, 2011-2014

One of the finest linebackers to ever come through Evanston, Ariguzo is tenth in the program’s all-time tackling leaders, and he added on seven sacks and six interceptions to go with them. Ariguzo was a dependable four-year player that could’ve started on nearly any Big Ten team, especially in his final two seasons.

First Team: Anthony Walker, 2013-2016

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Walker may well be the most impressive linebacker to come through Northwestern in Fitz’s tenure, and his stats back that up. With three 50+ tackle seasons and two 100+ tackle seasons, in addition to 7.5 sacks and 38 tackles for loss, it’s no surprise that Walker is now thriving at the next level.

First Team: Paddy Fisher, 2016-2019

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A junior-year captain, Fisher is another backer that has a great chance to succeed at the next level. Despite not having his best year in 2019, his production in the prior two years more than earns him a spot on the list. In three seasons, Fisher has 315 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and nine forced fumbles. Not bad.

Second Team: Nate Hall, 2015-2018

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A true four year player, Hall built a formidable partnership with the aforementioned Fisher. With four 50+ tackle seasons, Hall was efficient at stopping the run game. However, the linebacker was also solid at dropping into coverage, amassing five interceptions and 10 passes defended during his career in Evanston.

Second Team: David Nwabuisi, 2010-2011

The middle linebacker was a problem for offenses in the first two years of the 2010s. In his junior and senior seasons, Nwabuisi amassed 181 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and three interceptions, in addition to four forced fumbles. He was incredibly productive and was a solid presence in the middle of the field for NU.

Second Team: Damien Proby, 2010-2013

Proby was a run-stuffing linebacker that was a tackling machine. In his junior and senior seasons, the linebacker recorded 223 tackles, in addition to 9.5 tackles for loss. The captain earned multiple honorable mentions on All-Big Ten teams, and was one of the finest leaders to rep the squad in this decade.

Honorable Mentions: Blake Gallagher, Collin Ellis


First Team: Montre Hartage, 2015-2018

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Hartage Island provided many great memories for ‘Cats fans throughout the years. The shutdown corner was capable of taking an opposing team’s wide receiver out of the game with no safety help, and his production earned him All-Big Ten honors. He’s one of the best corners to don the purple and white, not only due to his pass coverage abilities, but also his assistance in the run game. Hartage collected 172 tackles throughout his career.

First Team: Nick Vanhoose, 2012-2015

Another lock down cornerback, Vanhoose was a vital part of the NU secondary for years. Amassing eight picks, 30 passes defended, and 192 tackles in Evanston, he earned second team All-Big Ten honors and was a four year academic All-American to go with it.

Second Team: Jordan Mabin, 2010-2011

Though Mabin only had two interceptions in his junior and senior seasons, his 19 passes defended and 125 tackles paint a fuller picture of the defensive back. His 10 passes defended in 2010 led the Big Ten, and his work ethic and leadership qualities earned him a captain’s spot as a senior.

Second Team: Matthew Harris, 2013-2016

Before retiring due to medical reasons as a senior, Harris was on pace to be possibly the best statistical cornerback of the decade for NU. The fact that he is still up there despite only really playing two full seasons earns him his spot on the team. With six interceptions in his sophomore and junior seasons as well as 20 passes defended and 3 forced fumbles, Harris was an impressive all around cornerback.

Honorable Mentions: Greg Newsome II


First Team: Ibraheim Campbell, 2011-2014

This team is absolutely loaded at the safety position, and it starts with Campbell. A dominant player in both coverage and run defense, he garnered 317 tackles and 10 interceptions over his career at NU. He earned multiple All-Big Ten designations to go with his illustrious tenure with the ‘Cats.

First Team: Brian Peters, 2010-2011

Another phenomenal all-around player, Peters racked up 12 interceptions and 301 tackles for the Wildcats. A vocal leader in the secondary, he was a captain and honorable mention All-Big Ten player in his senior season. Peters also recorded 16 passes defended and three forced fumbles in his final two seasons, cementing his status as a do-everything college safety.

Second Team: Godwin Igwebuike, 2014-2017

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Another outstanding safety for NU, Igwebuike is yet another 300+ tackle five+ interception player. He started all but one game in his final three years with Northwestern and had a particularly special junior year. In that 2016 season he recorded 108 tackles, two interceptions, seven passes defended and a forced fumble.

Second Team: Kyle Queiro, 2014-2017

NCAA Football: Music Bowl-Kentucky vs Northwestern Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Queiro always had the potential to become a great player, and his senior season showcased his abilities. With five picks, eight passes defended and a famous interception returned for a touchdown against Kentucky, he became an excellent coverage safety that proved himself in Evanston, narrowly edging out some impressive competition for this final spot with his eye-popping career numbers in pass defense.

Honorable Mentions: Traveon Henry, J.R. Pace, Jared McGee