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Counting down Northwestern’s roster: 99 to 90

The run stops here.

Northwestern v Michigan State Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

We’ve gone through nearly every component there is regarding the upcoming Northwestern football season. From positional previews to most 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 0 (thank you John Raine), providing a background and outlook for each player on this 2020 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. | Senior | Aubrey, Texas

Likely role in 2020: starting right defensive end, pass-rush specialist

After a promising sophomore year, many tabbed Brown for a breakout campaign in 2019. But injuries derailed his junior year and Brown enters his final season in Evanston with a chip on his shoulder. The former four-star prospect has shown flashes of excellence as a pass-rusher but is yet to put his skills on full display over an entire seson. With Joe Gaziano’s departure, the Texas native has an opportunity to become Northwestern’s premier quarterback harasser.

Career Stats: 31 games, 1 TD, 38 tackles, 6 sacks, 5 pass deflections

98: Duke Olges

DL | 6-foot-4, 272 lbs. | Redshirt First-Year | Winnetka, Illinois

Likely role in 2020: Limited reps as a rotational defensive lineman

The former three-star prospect chose Northwestern over the likes of West division titans Wisconsin and Iowa. In 2020, Olges should crack Northwestern’s defensive lineman rotation this season. After redshirting his true freshman season and bulking up, Olges’ frame should allow him to compete for a spot in the defensive line rotation.

Career Stats: N/A

97: Sean McLaughlin

DL | 6-foot-7, 220 lbs. | First-Year | Frankfort, Illinois

Likely role in 2020: Redshirt

McLaughlin joins the Wildcats after playing football in high school at Lincoln-Way East, roughly 55 miles away from campus. The Illinois native chose the Wildcats over Boston College, Cincinnati, and Harvard. With his towering height, McLaughlin presents plenty of intrigue, although Wildcat fans will probably have to wait a season or two before seeing him on Saturdays.

Career Stats: N/A

96: Trevor Kent

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

Likely role in 2020: Starter at defensive tackle

Kent enters 2020 as Northwestern’s primary defensive tackle following Alex Miller’s graduation. As a former four-star and the top-ranked prospect out of Kansas, the junior has plenty of promise for the Wildcats. He played fairly well in seven games last year but will need to put together a full season in order to replicate the production that Northwestern fans are accustomed to seeing from Marty Long’s best defensive tackle.

Career Stats: 15 games, 9 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 pass deflection

95: Te-Rah Edwards

DT | 6-foot-2, 315 lbs. | First-Year | Groveport, Ohio

Likely role in 2020: Redshirt

I would be surprised to see Edwards gain meaningful reps as a true first-year. But after seeing Fitz burn Jason Gold’s redshirt last season, anything is possible. If there were to be a freshman along the defensive line to receive playing time in 2020, Edwards would be the most likely of the bunch. He spurned Michigan, Penn State and Tennessee among a host of other big time schools to join Northwestern.

Career Stats: N/A

94: Jason Gold, Jr.

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

Likely role in 2020: Member of defensive line rotation

With six games under Gold’s belt, the rising sophomore should accumulate steady playing time in 2020. He put together an impressive season simply by playing in six games as a true first-year after a slew of injuries opened up opportunity. A good camp could find Gold playing alongside Trevor Kent, but he’ll likely battle it out with the older Jake Saunders.

Career Stats: 6 games, 8 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 QB hurry

93: Joe Spivak

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

Likely role in 2020: Defensive line rotation, run-defense specialist

Spivak’s tenure in Evanston has been relatively limited. He has received little playing time, and I’d be surprised if that drastically changed this year. Still, the senior excels in short yardage situations due to his high-end motor and big frame. Spivak is beloved by his teammates and may be an early-favorite to wear the revered “1” jersey that Joe Bergin donned in 2019.

Career Stats: 27 games, 9 tackles, 0.5 sacks

92: Willy Boatman

DL | 6-foot-2, 270 lbs. | Redshirt Sophomore | Denver, Colorado

Likely role in 2020: Competing for snaps along the defensive line

The Denver native appeared in one game in 2020 against UMass. Still, after converting to the defensive side of the ball last season, appearing one game is an accomplishment in itself. Entering 2020, Boatman should compete for snaps in the defensive rotation.

Career Stats: N/A

91: Samdup Miller

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

Likely role in 2020: Starting defensive end

After missing four games in 2019, the expectations remain sky-high for the younger Miller as a senior. The Houston native will be in charge of leading a young line plentiful with talent. Miller thrives against the run, but the Wildcats will need Miller to pressure the quarterback with frequency in order for the defense to take off.

Career Stats: 35 games, 114 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble

90: Jake Saunders

DT | 6-foot-2, 295 lbs. | Senior | Loveland, Ohio

Likely role in 2020: Competing to start as second defensive tackle

Saunders took advantage last year when opportunity presented itself. He played in 11 games, registering 15 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack. The senior should have every opportunity to start all twelve games in 2020, though, he’ll have to fight it out with Jason Gold, and he may not have much room for error.

Career Stats: 14 games, 16 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack

90: Jake Genyk

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

Likely role in 2020: Backup punter

After NU nabbed graduate transfer Derek Adams, the battle for starting punter just about ended. For Genyk, the son of special teams coach Jeff Genyk, this means he’ll likely have to wait another season before competing with Cody Gronewold to appear on fourth down.

Career Stats: N/A