Not the news we expected to receive today.
Northwestern running back Isaiah Bowser, wide receiver Malik Washington and defensive back Gunner Maldonado will reportedly enter the transfer portal, according to 247Sports and Rivals.com. The news came one day after the Wildcats lost 22-10 to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.
2018 3-star RB Isaiah Bowser has entered the portal as a grad transfer after rushing for 1,300 yards and 7 TD at Northwestern @rivalsmike @RivalsWoody @WildcatReporthttps://t.co/dN5miPDFpR— NCAA Transfer Portal (@RivalsPortal) December 20, 2020
Northwestern sophomore WR Malik Washington is in the portal. He had 5 catches for 51 yards and a TD this year. https://t.co/8ATvjhHhek— 247Sports Transfer Portal (@247SportsPortal) December 20, 2020
Northwestern true freshman DB Gunner Maldonado is in the portal. He played in 3 games this year and posted 1 tackle. https://t.co/k8Fc5szIOq— 247Sports Transfer Portal (@247SportsPortal) December 20, 2020
Since his breakout year in 2018 following the medical retirement of Jeremy Larkin, Bowser has not been able to put up the same strong numbers. He recorded 866 yards in 197 attempts with six touchdowns in 2018 but has charted just 434 yards on 137 attempts over the past two years with two total touchdowns this season, both against Maryland. He battled injuries in 2019, which allowed Drake Anderson to take more of the snaps, and as he continued to struggle in 2020, younger backs like Cam Porter and Evan Hull appeared to take over his starting role. In Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game, the junior back recorded just one carry for one yard.
As the season progressed and Bowser saw the field less and less, it became clear that 2018’s star would look elsewhere to finish his college playing career.
As for Washington, the sophomore wide receiver appeared in five games this season after playing in 11 as a true freshman. He totaled five catches for 51 yards this year and recorded six receptions for 25 yards in 2019. Many expected Washington would have a breakout year, as offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian was especially hopeful about his performance during training camp. However, he was inactive for the last three games.
Maldonado appeared in three games in his true freshman season, seeing time against Maryland, Iowa and Michigan State. He recorded one tackle in the season-opener but received limited playing time amongst a deep secondary.
Entering the portal does not guarantee a player will transfer, but it makes it unlikely they’ll return. With the NCAA granting all players an extra year of eligibility, the offseason will likely see a flurry of faces entering the portal, but with bloated roster sizes it may be tough for everyone to find new schools.