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Counting down Northwestern’s roster: 79-70

Let’s take a look at Skoronski and Co.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 19 Big Ten Championship Game - Northwestern v Ohio State Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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 70s are a group chalked full of offensive linemen and loads of talent.

79: Zachary Franks

OL | 6-foot-6, 305 pounds | Redshirt Sophomore | Baltimore, Maryland

Likely role in 2021: Reserve offensive lineman

Franks was a three-star lineman out of high school, committing to Northwestern over the likes of Penn State, Baylor and many others. He was redshirted his freshman year and spent nearly all of last year sitting behind Peter Skoronski on the depth chart, a spot he will likely stay in this upcoming season. However, Franks did make appearances in eight of nine games last year, so expect him to see the field at some point in 2021.

78: Luka Trifunovic

OL | 6-foot-4, 293 pounds | Redshirt Sophomore | Carlsbad, California

Trifunovic played one year as an offensive guard and two years as an offensive lineman in high school, proving he can provide some potential versatility to the trenches. He did not see the field during his redshirt season last year, but may get an opportunity in 2021.

Likely role in 2021: Reserve offensive lineman

77: Peter Skoronski

OL | 6-foot-4, 294 pounds | Sophomore | Park Ridge, Illinois

Likely role in 2021: Starting left tackle

Skoronski, a five-star recruit out of nearby Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Illinois, is the crowned jewel of Northwestern’s offensive line. He stepped into the huge hole left by Rashawn Slater last season and filled it masterfully, earning a spot as a Second Team All-Big Ten member. Additionally, Skoronski was named a 247Sports True Freshman All-American and was rated as the highest graded first-year in the Big Ten among all positions by Pro Football Focus.

76: Ethan Wiederkehr

OL | 6-foot-5, 295 pounds | Senior | Wading River, New York

Likely role in 2021: Starting right guard

Wiederkehr was Northwestern’s starting right guard in eight of nine games last year, so there’s no reason to why he won’t start in that position again in 2021. He appeared in all 12 games in 2019, starting in three of them.

75: Connor Foster

OL | 6-foot-7, 315 pounds | Redshirt Sophomore | Milford, Ohio

Likely role in 2021: Reserve Lineman

Foster has yet to see the field for Northwestern in his two years in Evanston, but he may catch enough of a break to get on the field in 2021. Prior to committing to Northwestern, Foster was a three-star prospect out of Ohio who received other offers from Cincinnati, Purdue, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

74: Payne He’Bert

OL | 6-foot-4, 312 pounds | Junior | Pearland, Texas

Likely role in 2021: Reserve Offensive Lineman

He’Bert has played in just one game in a Northwestern uniform in his three years with the Wildcats, appearing in the massacre of UMass back in 2019. He saw no action in 2018 or in 2020, but has yet to redshirt, indicating that he’ll likely remain in a reserve role in 2021.

72: Caleb Tiernan

OL | 6-foot-7, 280 pounds | First-Year | Franklin, Michigan

Likely role in 2021: Redshirt

Tiernan is a four-star recruit and 14th highest recruit in Northwestern football history. He was ranked as the 10th best recruit in the state of Michigan and the 33rd overall offensive tackle in the country. While Tiernan comes in as a highly-rated recruit, the offensive line room is crowded, meaning he’ll likely redshirt to not waste a year of his talent.

71: Ben Wrather

OL | 6-foot-6, 310 pounds | Sophomore | Powell, Ohio

Likely role in 2021: Starting right tackle

Wrather sat behind Gunnar Vogel for most of last year as Northwestern’s backup right tackle, yet still appeared in eight of nine games last season as a true first-year. Vogel has now graduated, freeing up a spot for Wrather to move into a starting role. It could be a contentious starting spot, but Wrather is the probable starter for 2021.