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Counting down Northwestern’s roster: 49-40

Linebacker and special teams galore.

Photo courtesy of Northwestern Athletics

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 40s are mostly a mix of linebackers and special teamers who have a lot to prove.

49: Jacob Tabibian

K/P | 5-foot-9, 185 pounds | First-Year | Lafayette, California

Likely role in 2021: Redshirt kicker

Tabibian joins the program after not being ranked on 247 Sports as a high school recruit and is unlikely to see playing time in his first year. Based on his Twitter account, it looks as though Tabibian will take his practice reps as a kicker, but he is listed as a punter on the official roster as well.

48: Peter Snodgrass

LS | 6-foot, 212 pounds | Senior | Palo Alto, California

Likely role in 2021: Starting long snapper

Following Tyler Gillikin’s departure, Snodgrass is the clear candidate to take over the starting long snapper position this season. After four years as a reserve, during which he saw four cameos into game action, the senior will be tasked with replacing a long-time contributor for the ‘Cats.

48: Owen Bergin

LB | 5-foot-10, 210 pounds | Sophomore | Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Likely role in 2021: Reserve linebacker

Owen is the youngest of the three Bergin brothers who have played as linebackers at Northwestern under Pat Fitzgerald. Like Joe and Chris, Owen is slightly undersized for the position, and he came to Northwestern as a preferred walk-on. With this in mind, it’s likely that he will remain on the bench for his second season as he continues to sharpen his skills.

47: Troy Hudetz

LB | 6-foot-2, 221 pounds | Graduate Student | Naperville, Illinois

Likely role in 2021: Reserve linebacker

Hudetz is in an interesting spot heading into his final year in Evanston. He was one of the few seniors to take his extra year of eligibility from 2020, but despite his experience, he likely won’t be an integral part of the linebacker room this season. The former preferred walk-on has appeared in 22 games over the course of his Northwestern career, including every game last year, but has only registered two total tackles in that time. Hudetz should again see a few snaps every game and serve as a mentor for younger players.

46: Devin O’Rourke

DL | 6-foot-6, 265 pounds | Junior | Mokena, Illinois

Likely role in 2021: Reserver defensive lineman

The only defensive lineman of the 40s is O’Rourke, who has a real opportunity to become a staple of the defensive line. Since coming to Northwestern as a four-star recruit in 2018, O’Rourke has struggled considering the lofty expectations that many had for him. The junior did play in all nine games in 2020, but he only managed to register two total tackles. The hope is that this will be the year that O’Rourke can put it all together and possibly become a starter. Until then, he will continue coming off of the bench.

46: Hunter Renner

P | 6-foot-2, 207 pounds | Sophomore | Mishawaka, Indiana

Likely role in 2021: Backup Punter

Hunter the Punter 2.0 did not see game action in his first year with the ‘Cats last season, and he will likely not see much of it again with the return of starter Derek Adams. Renner will spend the upcoming camp battling it out with junior Jake Genyk for the backup punter role, and it is likely that Renner will snag the job. He was a USA Today and MaxPreps All-American in high school, and his potential should start to shine through sooner rather than later.

45: Cullen Coleman

LB | 6-foot-3, 240 pounds | Sophomore | Port Chester, New York

Likely role in 2021: Reserve linebacker

Coleman spent most of his freshman year standing on the sidelines, as did most players in the 2020 Northwestern linebacking room. He appeared in just three games and did not register a box score statistic in any of them. Coleman was a highly sought-after recruit coming out of high school, with offers from the likes of Alabama, Penn State and Wisconsin, but he will likely serve in a reserve role again this season considering the measurable depth that seems to be ahead of him.

44: Khalid Jones

LB | 6-foot-0, 230 pounds | Junior | Greenville, South Carolina

Likely role in 2021: Reserve linebacker

Jones saw the field in three games last season and recording three totals tackles in those opportunities. His experience and promising, if limited, tape from last season means that he will probably serve in an expanded reserve role in 2021. This, coupled with the departures of Blake Gallagher, Paddy Fisher and Erik Mueller, could bode well for Jones if he plays well as the season progresses.

43: William Halkyard

LS | 6-foot-3, 200 pounds | Sophomore | Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Likely role in 2021: Backup long snapper

Halkyard will move one spot up in the depth chart after the departure of former starting long snapper Tyler Gillikin. The sophomore did not get a chance to see game action in 2020, but if he performs well in camp, Halkyard could see some opportunities for live game reps this season.

42: Jason Whittaker

TE | 6-foot-5, 222 pounds | Junior | Rockford, Michigan

Likely role in 2021: Reserve tight end

After opting out of the 2020 season, Whittaker now faces a lot of competition for playing time. The former quarterback turned tight end appeared in just two games in 2019, rushing twice for three yards. After a year off and now being placed in an offensive role that he is still learning, it is likely that it will take some time for Whittaker to reacclimate to the program.

41: Grayson Mann

LB | 6-foot-0, 225 pounds | Junior | Fort Worth, Texas

Likely role in 2021: Reserve linebacker

Like Khalid Jones, Mann could see an increased role in the linebacker corps after playing very limited minutes in his Northwestern career thus far. The Fort Worth, Texas, native appeared in five games last year and recorded one tackle. There is a lot of competition at linebacker, but nothing outside of Chris Bergin seems to be set in stone, and a good camp could go a long way for Mann.

40: Peter McIntyre

LB | 6-foot-2, 231 pounds | Senior | Perrysburg, Ohio

Likely role in 2021: Starting WILL linebacker

After serving as a backup for his entire Northwestern career thus far, McIntyre enters his senior season as the clear favorite to fill Blake Gallagher’s shoes and win the starting WILL linebacker job. He is coming off a solid 2020 in which he recorded seven tackles and one TFL. McIntyre has shown clear improvement every year since he has stepped foot in Evanston, and Pat Fitzgerald had high praise for him in this past week’s Big Ten Media Days.