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Counting Down Northwestern’s Roster: 89 to 80

Wideouts and Superbacks Tight Ends.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve gone through a litany of predictions for Northwestern’s upcoming football season as over the course of this summer. Now, we’re counting down the roster from 99 down to 0 (thank you, John Raine). We’ll provide stats, background, and an outlook for each player’s role headed into 2020.

Next up are a slew of pass catchers who are looking to break through and see the field. While only three of these 13 players have played meaningful snaps, this group represents part of the future of Northwestern’s offense.

89 Charlie Mangieri

TE | 6-foot-4, 252 pounds | Junior | Peoria, Illinois

Likely Role in 2020: Competing for TE2

After appearing in 13 games as a first-year, Mangieri’s sophomore campaign was underwhelming at best. His usage came primarily as a blocker as he hauled in only five catches for 21 yards. In addition to redshirt sophomore Trey Pugh, the junior will have to compete with grad transfer John Raine for a chance to start. If new offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian’s game plan is as run-heavy as is history would indicate, Mangieri might have a chance to earn the primary run-blocking job. However, Raine’s ability in the passing game (38 receptions for 343 yards and six TDs last year at FAU) might be too good for Bajakian to pass up.

Career Stats: 24 games played, 5 receptions, 21 yards

89 Preston Bacon

WR | 6-foot-2, 195 pounds | Redshirt First-Year | Oak Hill, Virginia

Likely Role in 2020: Reserve WR

One of five receivers redshirted his first year, Bacon faces an uphill climb to earn time on the field in 2020. He’ll have a better chance to compete for playing time next season, although the wide receiving room is crowded with unproven names.

Career Stats: N/A

88 Marshall Lang

TE | 6-foot-4, 225 pounds | First-Year | Cincinnati, Ohio

Likely Role in 2020: Redshirt

The three-star recruit from Cincinnati won’t see meaningful snaps this year given the three man competition in front of him. He hauled in 117 catches for 1,097 receiving yards in his high school career.

Career Stats: N/A

87 Jack Moses

WR | 5-foot-11, 180 pounds | First-Year | Lake Zurich, Illinois

Likely Role in 2020: Redshirt

Moses starred at quarterback for Lake Zurich, only 45 minutes away from his new home at Ryan Field. The walk-on’s speed and versatility make him an interesting option at receiver and on special teams in the future, but anything but a redshirt seems unlikely this year.

Career Stats: N/A

87 Thomas Gordon

TE | 6-foot-5, 231 pounds | Redshirt First-Year | Houston, Texas

Likely Role in 2020: Reserve TE

Gordon appeared in only two games as a first-year, maintaining his redshirt status. It’s possible he could see time this year, given Trey Pugh’s injury history, but he’ll probably remain a reserve for now.

Career Stats: N/A

86 Wayne Dennis, Jr.

WR | 6-foot-3, 190 pounds | Redshirt First-Year | Tampa, Florida

Likely Role in 2020: Reserve WR

Dennis joins Bacon as a redshirt first-year who will have to wait his turn to see the field with all the talent in front of him, but his size makes him a possible red zone threat in the future.

Career Stats: N/A

85 Jack Kennedy

WR | 6-foot-0, 188 pounds | Redshirt First-Year | Cleveland Heighs, Ohio

Likely Role in 2020: Reserve WR

Slightly smaller than Bacon and Dennis Jr, the walk-on has a better chance of getting reps on special teams than on offense.

Career Stats: N/A

84 Hunter Welcing

TE | 6-foot-3, 235 pounds | First-Year | Deer Park, Illinois

Likely Role in 2020: Redshirt

A former teammate of the aforementioned Moses (both went to Lake Zurich HS) lands in Evanston as another first-year expected to redshirt. While it’s unlikely he’ll earn much time in his first couple of years as a Wildcat, Welcing has the potential to be a productive receiving-focused tight end down the line.

Career Stats: N/A

83 Will Lansbury

WR | 6-foot-2, 204 pounds | Redshirt Junior | Pebble Beach, California

Likely Role in 2020: Reserve WR

Despite being one of the older players in this list, Lansbury faces just as much of a fight for minutes as anyone else. He saw no action last year and it’s improbable that he will this year.

Career Stats: 3 games played

82 Alex Oelsner

TE | 6-foot-4, 247 pounds | Redshirt Junior | Niwot, Colorado

Likely Role in 2020: Reserve TE

Oelsner is right on the cusp of getting minutes, but not quite there. He has only appeared in a few games so far and is unlikely to leap the trio of Raine, Mangieri and Pugh barring injury.

Career Stats: 3 games played

82 Braeden Heald

WR | 5-foot-11, 191 pounds | Redshirt Sophomore | Easthampton, Massachusetts

Likely Role in 2020: Reserve WR/Special Teams

Heald has appeared in three games in two years but has yet to register a stat. The coaches may attempt to utilize his speed on special teams, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get occasional snaps in the slot.

Career Stats: 3 games played

81 Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman

WR | 6-foot-2, 203 pounds | Senior | Minneapolis, Minnesota

Likely Role in 2020: Starter at WR

Finally, a Wildcat who has actually played a game! Chiaokhiao-Bowman trailed only Riley Lees in receiving last season, catching 17 passes for 188 yards. While he was second on the team in those categories, the revolving door at quarterback made it harder for RCB to show off his big play ability that fans remember from the 2018 Holiday Bowl. The Minnesotan has yet to put together a complete season, but the opportunity is there in his final year, and he’s got some of the best size of NU’s receiving corps.

Career Stats: 38 games, 39 catches, 396 yards, 1 TD

80 Trey Pugh

TE | 6-foot-4, 250 pounds | Redshirt Junior | Plain City, Ohio

Likely Role in 2020: Competing for TE2

Going into last season, Pugh ranked tenth on our list of Top 10 most important players as the anticipated starting superback and replacement to the retired Cam Green. Unfortunately, Pugh’s 2019 was cut short and the aforementioned John Raine is the new favorite to land the starting tight end job. Raine’s production at FAU speaks more about his presence in the passing game than Pugh’s (two catches for nine yards), leading us to believe Pugh will battle Charlie Mangieri to be the primary run-blocking tight end.

Career Stats: 24 games, 5 receptions, 38 yards