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Counting down Northwestern’s roster: 59-50

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NCAA Football: Northwestern at Michigan State Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

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 50s are a group with a decent amount of offensive and defensive diversity, mainly in the trenches.

58: Najee Story

DL | 6-foot-4, 250 pounds | First-Year | Solon, Ohio

Likely role in 2021: Redshirt/Reserve defensive lineman

Najee Story verbally committed to Northwestern on May 3, 2020, as a three-star recruit and the No. 23 ranked player in Ohio. He’s an exciting defensive edge prospect, recording 63 tackles and nine tackles for loss his junior year of high school. Story committed to Northwestern over the likes of Tennessee, Ohio State and Penn State. He very well may end up redshirting his first year, but there could be points where he’s needed on the field as well.

57: Greyson Metz

LB | 6-foot-3, 216 pounds | Sophomore | Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Likely role in 2021: Reserve linebacker

Greyson Metz did not redshirt last year, yet he did not see playing time in 2020. In high school, he was ranked as the 12th best football player in Illinois, but did not get an offer from Northwestern. Instead of committing elsewhere, he decided to walk on with the Wildcats and ended up making the roster. Given that both Paddy Fisher and Blake Gallagher have graduated from the program, it’s likely Metz will see the field at some point this year.

56: Josh Thompson

OL | 6-foot-5, 310 pounds | First-Year | Fenton, Michigan

Likely role in 2021: Redshirt

Josh Thompson committed to Northwestern on March 24, 2020, ranked as the No. 35 offensive guard in the country by 247Sports, and he comes to Evanston holding an impressive resume. In three years, he racked up 141 pancakes and didn’t allow a single sack at three different positions — right guard, right tackle and left tackle. However, given the amount of depth the ‘Cats have up front, it’s difficult to see Thompson not being redshirted so he retains a year of eligibility.

55: Conrad Rowley

OL | 6-foot-4, 308 pounds | Junior | Independence, Missouri

Likely role in 2021: Reserve offensive lineman

Conrad Rowley played in two games for the Wildcats in 2019, seeing time against Stanford and UMass. However, he did not see the field in 2020, largely due to the consistency of Northwestern’s front five last season. While he may get playing time at some point this year, it will likely be limited to just a few snaps.

54: Jeremy Meiser

DL | 6-foot-3, 275 pounds | Graduate Student | Cincinnati, Ohio

Likely role in 2021: Starting defensive tackle

After three years at Old Dominion, Jeremy Meiser officially transferred to Northwestern on Feb. 3, 2021. Meiser was just a two-start recruit coming out of high school, but was impressive on the defensive line for the Monarchs, recording 24 tackles, five tackles for loss, four QB hurries and a blocked field goal in 2020.

53: Jaiden Cameron

DE | 6-foot-3, 245 pounds | Sophomore | Clayton, Ohio

Likely role in 2021: Reserve defensive end

While he did not redshirt last year, Cameron did not make an appearance for the Wildcats in 2020. He came to Northwestern as a three-star prospect, choosing the ‘Cats over Cincinnati, Michigan State, Minnesota and others. Cameron will likely see the field at some point in 2021, but there’s no guarantee he’ll get any significant amount of playing time.

52: Sam Gerak

OL | 6-foot-4, 295 pounds | Senior | Avon, Ohio

Likely role in 2021: Starting center

Sam Gerak is a certified stud, there’s no doubt about that. He’s started in the last 19 games for the Wildcats and capped off his 2020 season with what may have been one of the best games of his career, earning a spot on the AP All-Bowl Team for his performance against Auburn. Just yesterday, Gerak was named to the Rimington Award Watch List, which is given to the most outstanding center in college football at the end of each season.

Also 52: Jordan Butler

DT | 6-foot-2, 316 pounds | Sophomore | North Las Vegas, Nevada

Likely role in 2021: Reserve defensive lineman

Rated as a top 50 defensive tackle in the country by 247Sports, Jordan Butler committed to Northwestern on Dec. 10, 2019. He saw a fair amount of action in his first year as a Wildcat, appearing in eight of nine games in 2020, and set a career-high in tackles with two coming against Maryland to open the season. Expect to hear Butler’s name get called a bit more this year.

50: PJ Spencer

DL | 6-foot-2, 275 pounds | Redshirt Sophomore | Prairie Village, Kansas

Likely role in 2021: Reserve defensive lineman

PJ Spencer has played in just three games in his Northwestern career thus far, appearing in two contests in 2020 against Maryland and Illinois, and one in 2019 against UMass, where he recorded his first career tackle. The defensive line has a good amount of depth this year, so while Spencer may find his way the field on occasion, it will likely be limited to spot appearances.