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Counting down Northwestern’s roster: 29-20

Some important names here.

Michigan State v Northwestern Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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.

Today we present 29-20. The group includes the rest of the deep linebacking corps along with two running backs and a punter.

29: Tyler Haskins

CB | 5-foot-1, 180 pounds | Redshirt First-Year | Stafford, Virginia

Likely role in 2020: Contender for playing time at cornerback

Despite a scholarship offer from Davidson College to play quarterback in 2019, Haskins selected to walk-on to Northwestern’s as a cornerback. Haskins appeared in games against Wisconsin and Purdue as a true first-year but will need a strong effort in training camp to crack the cornerback rotation in 2020.

Career stats: 2 games played

29: Marcus Cisco

RB | 5-foot-9, 185 pounds | Redshirt First-Year | Byron Center, Michigan

Likely role in 2020: Reserve running back

The Michigan native enters a crowded Northwestern running back room after redshirting in his first season. I’d be surprised to see Cisco receive snaps this fall, but he may very well be a vital piece of the Wildcats in the future.

Career stats: N/A

28: Chris Bergin

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

Likely role in 2020: Starting SAM linebacker

Bergin enters 2020 as the weakest starter within Northwestern’s strongest position group. That is no knock on Bergin — Paddy Fisher and Blake Gallagher are both studs. If NU’s weakest starter at each position with multiple starters (WR, CB, etc) were as strong as Bergin, this team would be capable of winning the Big Ten. The workhouse, strong-side linebacker needs to continue to be a solid tackler, and if he can do that this defense will be dangerous.

Career stats: 37 games, 149 tackles, 10 TFL, 1.5 sacks

27: Coco Azema

CB | 5-foot-11, 185 pounds | Redshirt First-Year | Cypress, Texas

Likely role in 2020: Reserve running back and cornerback

After scampering for 123 yards on seven attempts in the season finale against Illinois, it remains unclear where Azema will see the majority of his playing time. Regardless, he enters his redshirt freshman season with a ton of value on both sides of the ball, and depending on how the season goes, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the coaching staff use him that way again.

Career stats: 4 games, 4 tackles, 1 FF, 123 rushing yards, 1 touchdown

26: Evan Hull

RB | 5-foot-11, 192 pounds | Redshirt First-Year | Maple Grove, Minnesota

Likely role in 2020: Reserve running back

Hull impressed in his four games as a redshirt last season, leading the team with the most touchdowns in a single game by scoring four times against UMass. In 2020, Hull should also compete for snaps out of the backfield with the likes of Isaiah Bowser and Drake Anderson.

Career stats: 4 games, 46 carries, 286 yards, 4 TDs

25: Jaheem Joseph

DB | 5-foot-11, 170 pounds | First-Year | Miami Gardens, Florida

Likely role in 2020: Redshirt/ Reserve cornerback

As a true freshman in 2020, Joseph will most likely be utilized in the maximum four games allowed to preserve his redshirt. He certainly has the talent to compete for snaps in the cornerback rotation. Beyond Greg Newsome II, Northwestern is largely unproven at the position, so Fitz might opt to burn Joseph’s redshirt to increase depth in the secondary.

Career stats: N/A

25: Isaiah Bowser

RB | 6-foot-1, 215 pounds | Junior | Sidney, Ohio

Likely role in 2020: Starting running back

After an injury-riddled sophomore season, Bowser enters 2020 with a chip on his shoulder. Drake Anderson and Evan Hull are both chomping at the bit for snaps.

Still, Bowser is Northwestern’s most proven running back. He helped carry the Wildcats to the Big Ten Championship Game as a true freshman and has already achieved significant success at the collegiate level. Bowser is a bruiser, and if there is anything new offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian likes doing, it is running the football with power. Bowser will be a crucial member of a focal position group.

Career stats: 16 games, 256 attempts, 1070 yards, 6 TDs

24: Rod Heard

DB | 5-foot-10, 175 pounds | Redshirt First-Year | Farmington, Michigan

Likely role in 2020: Reserve cornerback

Heard enters a crowded cornerback room. After playing one game last year, the Michigan native hopes to work his way up the depth chart, and he has the talent to do it — he chose Northwestern over Michigan, Indiana and Iowa State.

Career stats: 1 game, 1 tackle

23: Ray Niro III

WR | 5-foot-10, 183 pounds | Sophomore | Barrington, Ill

Likely role in 2020: Special teams, reserve wide receiver

So far in his career, Niro has primarily been featured on special teams with a nice debut at running back when the ‘Cats ran roughshod over Illinois. Niro will need to make strides this offseason in order to crack the wide receiver rotation.

Career stats: 11 attempts, 101 yards, 1 TD

23: Donovan Sermons

DB | 5-foot-11, 192 pounds | Junior | Pomona, California

Likely role in 2020: Reserve cornerback

Sermons is another member of Northwestern’s confusing cornerback room hoping to separate himself. Still, the former preferred walk-on faces an uphill battle for playing time after taking the field thrice in 2019.

Career stats: N/A

22: Connor Newhouse

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

Likely role in 2020: Reserve running back

A walk-on last season, Newhouse enters 2020 without any game experience. Newhouse may be an intriguing player for Northwestern down the road, but he’ll be on the bench this year.

Career stats: N/A

22: Bryce Jackson

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

Likely role in 2020: In the rotation at cornerback

In his three seasons on campus, Jackson has made great strides as a defensive back. He needs to take his biggest step yet and evolve into a quality, starting cornerback. The Wildcats will have a competition for the starting second cornerback spot across from Newsome, and Jackson should be in the thick of it.

Career stats: 26 games, 28 tackles, 1 pass deflection, 1 fumble recovery

21: Cameron Mitchell

DB | 6-foot-1, 185 pounds | Redshirt First-Year | Bolingbrook, Illinois

Likely role in 2020: Reserve cornerback

Similar to Jackson, Mitchell is another candidate for a spot in Matt MacPherson’s cornerback rotation. The Chicagoland native played well in four games last season and needs to continue his solid play in the preseason in order to receive significant playing time in 2020.

Career stats: 4 games, 1 tackle

20: Cam Porter

RB | 5-foot-11, 210 pounds | First-Year | Cincinnati, Ohio

Likely role in 2020: Redshirt

The incoming first-year Porter has some fun parallels to former Wildcat running back and current student assistant Jeremy Larkin. Both graduated from Cincinnati’s La Salle High School. Both are below six feet (Larkin stands at 5-10 while Porter is 5-11), and Porter weighs 210 pounds while Larkin’s listed weight from his sophomore season at NU sits at 197 pounds. In all likelihood, Porter will need to wait a season before playing, but the Ohio native has the makings of Northwestern’s feature back of the future.

Career stats: N/A

20: Derek Adams

P | Graduate Transfer | Manheim, Pennsylvania

Likely role in 2020: Starting punter

The Jake Collins experiment has now turned into the Andrew David experiment has now turned into the Derek Adams experiment. For the third consecutive season, Northwestern has brought in a graduate transfer to be the starting punter. In his final season at Kent State, Adams averaged 43.1 yards per punt including twenty punts inside the opposing team’s 20 yard line, which earned him a spot on the All-MAC Third Team. He also made Second Team All-MAC in 2017.

Career stats: 41 games, 245 punts, 10,298 yards, 42 yards avg, 77 long