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Counting down Northwestern’s roster: 39-30

A grab bag of position groups.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Auburn vs Northwestern Reinhold Matay-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 thirties are loaded with talent on the defensive side of the ball, but lack experience at the collegiate level.

39: Aidan Hubbard

DL | 6-foot-4, 235 pounds | First-Year | Cleveland, Ohio

Likely role in 2021: Redshirt

A 3-star recruit out of St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio, Hubbard chose Northwestern over Big Ten rivals Michigan State, Minnesota and Purdue. The true freshman is a probable redshirt given the depth at every position across the ‘Cats defensive line, and he’ll look to use the season to work toward becoming a more prominent member of the defense in the years to come.

Career stats: N/A

38: Joe DeHaan

DB | 6-foot-0, 198 pounds | Sophomore | Tinley Park, Illinois

Likely role in 2021: Reserve defensive back

DeHaan saw very little of the field in his freshman season in 2020, playing in only one game, that being Northwestern’s 43-3 demolition of Maryland. Based on the returning personnel in the secondary, it looks like the sophomore defensive back will again be near the bottom of the depth chart, and will only get game time if some of the guys ahead of him get injured and/or fail to perform at a level that knocks them down from starting status.

Career stats: 1 game played, 3 total tackles (2 solo, 1 assisted)

37: Mac Uihlein

LB | 6-foot-1, 215 pounds | First-Year | Lake Forest, Illinois

Likely role in 2021: Pushing for a starting linebacker job

While Fitz has traditionally been more cautious with true freshmen during his tenure, often favoring more experienced players in position battles, there are always one or two first-year guys that make an immediate impact. That was seen last year with Peter Skoronski and Cam Porter, as well as Greg Newsome II three years ago and Justin Jackson way back in 2014. There’s a good chance that Uihlein — a heralded 4-star recruit — could fit that mold in 2021. With both Paddy Fisher and Blake Gallagher having departed for the NFL, two massive holes in the heart of the ‘Cats defense have been left. Uihlein could have a claim to one of those spots, and even if he doesn’t win the Week 1 starting job, he will likely be one of the first called upon off the bench.

Career stats: N/A

36: Derek Adams

P | 5-foot-11, 195 pounds | Graduate | Manheim, Pennsylvania

Likely role in 2021: Starting punter

Adams won the starting punter job after transferring from Kent State to Northwestern before last season, and will more than likely keep it after using his extra year of eligibility from the NCAA’s rules for last year’s COVID-19 impacted season. The Manheim product averaged 41.8 yards per punt last season, and was called upon 44 times in the ‘Cats nine games.

Career stats: 50 games played, 289 punts, 12138 yards, 42.0 yards per punt

34: Jasper Stratton

QB | 6-foot-0, 180 pounds | First-Year | Los Angeles, California

Likely role in 2021: Redshirt

Stratton enters a crowded QB room as a preferred walk-on who played eight different positions in high school, including wide receiver, defensive back and, of course, quarterback. With the amount of experience ahead of him, Stratton is virtually a lock to sit this season out and develop as he learns Mike Bajakian’s offense.

Career stats: N/A

34: Xander Mueller

LB | 6-foot-3, 210 pounds | Sophomore | Wheaton, Illinois

Likely role in 2021: Reserve linebacker

Outside of a cameo late in the Maryland game last season, Mueller stood on the sidelines for the entirety of his freshman year. The former 3-star recruit might see a larger role in new defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil’s system depending on how pre-season practices panned out, but it’s likely that Mueller will spend another season behind more experienced guys on the depth chart.

Career stats: 1 game played

33: Michael Jansey, Jr.

LB | 6-foot-2, 210 pounds | Redshirt Sophomore | Batavia, Illinois

Likely role in 2021: Reserve linebacker

Regarded by many as the top recruit in the ‘Cats’ 2019 class and a former high school All-American, Jansey Jr. has not lived up to the hype quite yet. While he didn’t get an opportunity to impress last season due to sitting behind Fisher, Gallagher and Chris Bergin, he has seen Bryce Gallagher, a less highly-touted recruit in the Class of 2019, receiver a larger amount of playing time during his two years in Evanston. However, the redshirt sophomore still has time to turn his collegiate career around, and with the linebacking corps being noticeably younger this season than in years past, Jansey Jr. has a greater chance to get on the field than he has in years past. He likely won’t be a starter, but his role will definitely increase in importance.

Career stats: N/A

32: Bryce Gallagher

LB | 6-foot-2, 223 pounds | Redshirt Sophomore | Raynham, Massachusetts

Likely role in 2021: Starting linebacker

The younger brother of former starting linebacker Blake Gallagher, Bryce looks to be a prime candidate to fill the hole Blake has left in the linebacking corps. Gallagher has appeared in a multitude of games in both his seasons with the program thus far, and of players not named Chris Bergin, he has the most experience at the position of anyone on the roster. As a result, it would be a surprise if Gallagher wasn’t on the field for the ‘Cats first defensive possession of the season against Michigan State.

Career stats: 14 games played, 6 total tackles (4 solo, 2 assisted, 0.5 TFL)

31: Jaylen Rivers

LB | 6-foot-2, 222 pounds | Junior | Decatur, Georgia

Likely role in 2021: Reserve linebacker

Entering his fourth year with the program, Rivers has appeared in games every season he’s been on campus, however, his playing time took a hit from 2019 to 2020. With experienced guys like Bergin and Gallagher, along with more unproven names like Uihlein and Jansey Jr. on the roster, Rivers is likely to be a backup again in 2021.

Career stats: 13 games played, 4 total tackles (1 solo, 3 assisted)

31: Jake Arthurs

RB | 5-foot-9, 195 pounds | Sophomore | Wheaton, Illinois

Likely role in 2021: Reserve running back

Arthurs didn’t get any playing time as a freshman last season, and that trend is likely to continue for the running back. He will likely sit behind returning contributors Cam Porter and Evan Hull, as well as graduate transfer Andrew Clair and true freshman Anthony Tyus III in the depth chart.

Career stats: N/A