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Counting down Northwestern’s roster: 89-80

It says a lot when the most intriguing player of this jersey group is a true freshman.

Ohio State Unviersity vs Northwestern University, 2018 Big Ten Championship Set Number: X162358 TK1

As the days tick away till Northwestern takes the field vs. Michigan State and starts their 2021 campaign, we’ve got you covered with all the content you need to be ready for this football season.

Per tradition, we’re counting down the roster by jersey number from 99 to 0, while also providing stats, background and an outlook for each player’s projected role heading into the 2021 season.

The eighties are a receiver/tight end-heavy group without much playing experience.

89: Charlie Mangieri

DL | 6-foot-4, 250 pounds | Senior | Peoria, Illinois

Likely role in 2021: Starting tight end

Mangieri enters 2021 as the team’s starting tight end. While many view tight end as a position of weakness on the 2021 NU team, Mangieri enjoyed a solid junior season last year where he finished with seven receptions for 53 yards and two touchdown receptions, including a clutch one against Wisconsin. Next season, expect Mangieri to be a solid blocker on the edge of the offensive line for Cam Porter while also becoming more productive in the passing game.

Career stats: 33 games played, 12 receptions, 74 receiving yards, two touchdowns

88: Marshall Lang

DL | 6-foot-4, 235 pounds | Sophomore | Cincinnati, Ohio

Likely role in 2021: Reserve tight end

Lang came to Northwestern last season as a three-star prospect from Cincinnati, Ohio, choosing the ‘Cats over the likes of Ball State, Kent State and Toledo. Lang appeared in five games last season. While Lang has never recorded a career reception, he is 15 pounds lighter than Mangieri and will most likely be utilized in the passing game as he caught 86 receptions for 1,012 yards in high school.

Career stats: Five games played

87: Jack Moses

WR | 5-foot-9, 187 pounds | Sophomore | Lake Zurich, Illinois

Likely role in 2021: Redshirt

After not receiving any playing time in a freshman season where Jack Moses could have retained a year of eligibility had he played, it is unlikely that he will receive much playing time, if at all, in 2021. Interestingly, in high school, Moses played wide receiver his first two years before moving to QB his junior season. Maybe we could see Moses appear in a trick play?

Career stats: N/A

87: Thomas Gordon

TE | 6-foot-5, 240 pounds | Redshirt Sophomore | Houston, Texas

Likely role in 2021: Backup tight end

Thomas Gordon appeared in all nine games last season despite not recording a single statistic in the first season of the Bajakian/tight end offense. In high school, Gordon ranked as the 32nd best tight end in the nation and chose NU over Baylor, Duke, Iowa State, LSU and Maryland. Based off of his offers, Gordon clearly has talent. Additionally, with Bajakian saying at spring practice that Gordon is “playing the best football since I’ve been here and I know it’s only been a year and a half, but he’s another guy that adds some depth,” he should be primed for more playing time in 2021.

Career stats: 11 games played

86: Lawson Albright

TE | 6-foot-5, 225 pounds | First-Year | Greensboro, North Carolina

Likely role in 2021: Redshirt

Based on the number of tight ends just previewed, it seems like a safe bet that first-year TE Lawson Albright will be redshirted this season. That is not a knock on Albright as he clearly possesses talent; he chose NU over Louisville, Wisconsin and Virginia Tech. Moving forward, however, I will be curious to see how Albright progresses throughout his career as he is a coveted, offensive skill position recruit in the Ryan Fieldhouse recruiting era.

Career stats: N/A

85: Jack Kennedy

WR | 6-foot-0, 201 pounds | Sophomore | Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Likely role in 2021: Backup wide receiver

In Kennedy’s bio on NU’s football site, NU says he appeared in “two games during redshirt first-year season” in 2020. I am not exactly sure how relevant it is that Kennedy received a redshirt in a season where any player could have redshirted, but it may speak to Fitz not wanting to use the redshirt on him this season over a separate player on the roster.

Career stats: Two games played

84: Hunter Welcing

TE | 6-foot-3, 242 pounds | Sophomore | Deer Park, Illinois

Likely role in 2021: Backup tight end

Welcing came to NU over Western Michigan last season as the 25th ranked high school player in Illinois. He did not receive any playing time in his freshman season. With a logjam at tight end, it would be surprising to see Welcing receive significant playing time unless he made significant strides in the offseason.

Career stats: N/A

83: Will Lansbury

WR | 6-foot-2, 202 pounds | Senior | Pebble Beach, California

Likely role in 2021: Backup wide reciever

Perhaps the most interesting fact about Will Lansbury is that he comes from Pebble Beach, California where he played at Stevenson (not the Illinois high school). Lansbury has appeared in games the last three seasons without recording any statistics but notably was Academic All-Big Ten all three seasons. In his senior season, Fitz may trust the senior in late-game situations to make smart decisions in certain situations.

Career stats: Five games played

82: Braeden Heald

WR | 5-foot-11, 198 pounds | Redshirt Junior | Easthampton, Massachusetts

Likely role in 2021: Backup wide receiver

Heald enters his redshirt junior season after not appearing in a single game last season. With many older backup wide receivers fighting to differentiate themselves, specifically those with a jersey number in the 80s, Heald falls into this group. Interestingly, Heald’s older brother, Flynn, played football at William & Mary from 2012-2014.

Career stats: Five games played

81: CJ Johnson II

WR | 6-foot-0, 180 pounds | First-Year | French Camp, Mississippi

Likely role in 2021: Redshirt or backup wide receiver

Of any receiver with a jersey number in the 80s within Northwestern’s roster, Johnson II may just be the most interesting. In high school, he had blazing speed and got experience playing at QB, WR, FS, CB, PR and KR. He rushed for 1,319 yards and 23 rushing touchdowns while also throwing for 894 yards and 12 passing touchdowns as a senior. Johnson II also scored over 1,000 career points in his high school basketball career and was the class valedictorian. I cannot wait to see how Fitz/Bajakian utilize him.

Career stats: N/A

80: Trey Pugh

TE | 6-foot-5, 250 pounds | Redshirt Senior | Plain City, Ohio

Likely role in 2021: Reserve tight end

Pugh enters his redshirt senior season hoping to earn playing time. In 2017, Pugh appeared in 11 games and in 2018 he appeared in nine games. It is not clear if he did not appear any playing time last seasaon due to there being better tight ends on the roster or him having a health issue. Either way, at Mike Bajakian’s spring availability, when speaking about the tight ends, Bajakian failed to mention Pugh’s name. It will be interesting to see how he fits into the mix at TE in 2021.

Career stats: 24 games played, five receptions, 38 receiving yards