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Counting down Northwestern’s roster: 9-0

Last few.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Northwestern David Banks-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.

We wrap up this season’s roster countdown with a speedy group headlined by some of Northwestern’s most essential pass catchers and defenders.

9: Carl Richardson

QB | 6-foot-4, 205 pounds | First-Year | Salinas, California

Likely role in 2020: Redshirt

The last addition to the Wildcats’ 2020 recruiting class, Richardson filled the gap left by former-commit Aidan Atkinson, who did not sign with Northwestern following a sexual assault accusation. With a long line of more experienced and highly-touted quarterbacks ahead of him, Richardson figures to spend his first year developing as a redshirt.

Career stats: N/A

9: Gunner Maldanado

DB | 5-foot-11, 180 pounds | First-Year | Chandler, Arizona

Likely role in 2020: Redshirt

Maldanado strayed from his home state to play at NU, opting for a spot on Pat Fitzgerald’s team over offers from Arizona and Arizona State. Maldanado may figure to earn some playing time this season, but is unlikely to break the four-game threshold that would withhold him from redshirt status.

Career stats: N/A

8: Kyric McGowan

WR | 5-foot-10, 200 pounds | Senior | Dalton, Georgia

Likely role in 2020: Starting wide receiver

McGowan’s speed, displayed most prominently last season on a 79-yard rushing touchdown against Purdue that ended the Wildcats’ month-long touchdown drought, makes him a serious factor in both the running and passing game. After starting in each of the nine games he played in 2019, McGowan looks to close his college career with a bang in the upcoming season.

Career stats: 34 games played, 34 receptions, 31 carries, 647 total yards, 3 TD

7: Travis Whillock

DB | 6-foot-1, 200 pounds | Redshirt Senior | Katy, Texas

Likely role in 2020: Starting safety

Whillock started off the 2019 season hot, recording 37 total tackles (including a career-high 13 against Wisconsin) and his lone sack of the season in the first four games played. His production slowed in the latter end of the year, but nonetheless, he remains a veteran anchor of the Northwestern defense and is likely to spend the entire year starting at safety, barring injury.

Career stats: 23 games played, 135 total tackles (77 solo, 58 assisted), 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 4 fumble recoveries

7: Andrew Marty

QB | 6-foot-3, 227 pounds | Redshirt Junior | Cincinnati, Ohio

Likely role in 2020: Reserve quarterback

After a disastrous career debut against Ohio State, Marty delivered a surprisingly decent performance in his next significant appearance against Minnesota, earning him a start to close the season against Illinois. Marty proceeded to lead the ‘Cats to a dominant 29-10 HAT victory, rushing for 111 yards and recording three total touchdowns. Despite his leadership in Northwestern’s most impressive game of the season, Marty is unlikely to beat out Peyton Ramsey, TJ Green and Hunter Johnson for the starting job this season.

Career stats: 5 games played, 14-for-22 passing, 351 yards, 6 TD

6: Drake Anderson

RB | 5-foot-11, 190 pounds | Redshirt Sophomore | Chandler, Arizona

Likely role in 2020: Second-string running back

With Isaiah Bowser out for much of the year, Drake, son of Northwestern Hall-of-Famer Damien Anderson, became the go-to back in the 2019 season, leading the team with 634 yards rushing. With Bowser healthy, it’s unlikely Anderson will hold a similar role in 2020, but keep an eye out for him if Bowser’s production — or health — is lacking.

Career stats: 14 games played, 166 carries, 6 receptions, 670 total yards, 3 TD

5: JR Pace

DB | 6-foot-1, 205 pounds | Senior | College Park, Georgia

Likely role in 2020: Starting safety

Pace held his spot as a mainstay in the defensive backfield in 2019, breaking up four passes, recording 42 total tackles and snagging a highlight-reel interception against Wisconsin. Still, it was a step-back season for Pace, who had better numbers in every statistical category in the 2018 season. He’ll look to return to his sophomore season-self in his final year as a Wildcat.

Career stats: 38 games played, 128 tackles (79 solo, 49 assisted), 7 INT, 1 fumble recovery

5: Jace James

WR | 6-foot, 192 pounds | Redshirt Junior | Carol Stream, Illinois

Likely role in 2020: Red zone specialist

Even while putting up only 10 catches for 92 yards, James actually tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions last year. Granted, the leading mark was only two touchdowns, but if Northwestern can find a way to generate a stronger passing game under Peyton Ramsey (or whoever else starts under center), James’ knack for finding the end zone could make him one of the biggest benefactors.

Career stats: 20 games played, 13 receptions, 134 total yards, 2 TD

4: Berkeley Holman

WR | 5-foot-11, 193 pounds | Redshirt Junior | Irvine, California

Likely role in 2020: Second-string wide receiver

The Northwestern wide receiving corp as a whole struggled to put up consistently strong numbers last year, and Holman was no exception. The former high school track star looks to improve upon the nine receptions and 124 receiving yards he put up last year in Mike Bajakian’s new offensive scheme.

Career stats: 22 games played, 16 receptions, 192 total yards

3: JJ Jefferson

WR | 5-foot-10, 170 pounds | Junior | Houston, Texas

Likely role in 2020: Second-string wide receiver

Like the two wideouts before him on this list, Jefferson is looking for a boost under the new leadership of Bajakian. He’ll once again see his fair share of field time this year, so if the passing game can get more productive, his stat line will likely reflect such a development.

Career stats: 19 games played, 22 receptions, 333 total yards, 4 TD

2: Greg Newsome II

DB | 6-foot-1, 180 pounds | Junior | Chicago, Illinois

Likely role in 2020: Starting cornerback

Newsome got hurt in the season opener against Stanford, and the injury bug stuck with him for the duration of his sophomore season. While he would otherwise be a season-long starter, he only started in eight games and only appeared in nine. Nonetheless, he led the team and ranked second in the Big Ten with 11 pass breakups. Now, he’ll hope to stay healthy amidst the ongoing pandemic and will look to join the ranks of the conference’s strongest corners.

Career stats: 15 games played, 59 tackles (47 solo, 12 assisted), 1 fumble recovery

0: John Raine

TE | 6-foot-2, 235 pounds | Graduate Transfer | Miami, Florida

Likely role in 2020: Starting tight end (rest in peace, superback)

While Peyton Ramsey has grabbed more of the headlines, his fellow grad-transfer Raine has the potential to be a significant addition to the Northwestern roster. Raine spent his time at Florida Atlantic in the shadow of Harrison Bryant, who won the Mackey Award and was selected by the Cleveland Browns in April’s NFL Draft. Despite his secondary depth chart status, Raine hauled in as many receiving touchdowns as the entire 2019 Northwestern roster combined and racked up more yards than everyone on said roster but Riley Lees. Now, as the clear-cut starter, he’ll have access to more playing time. Here’s hoping that means even more statistical success.

Career stats: 434 receiving yards, 7 TD