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Counting Down Northwestern’s Roster: 9-0

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The final members of the team include a little bit of everything.

Vrbo Citrus Bowl - Auburn v Northwestern Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/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.

At last, we’ve reached single digits, a group with some newcomers and some familiar faces.

9: Donovan Sermons

DB | 5-foot-11, 192 LBS | Senior | Pomona, California

Likely Role in 2021: Reserve defensive back

Sermons has been with the Wildcat program since 2017 when he walked on during the summer quarter and redshirted his first season. However, due to the immense depth and talent that is present in defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil’s unit, it is unlikely that Sermons will see lots of playing time. Although he might not be on the field much, it is always a good thing to have a veteran presence such as the one that Sermons can bring to the Northwestern locker room in 2021.

Career Stats: Six games played, two tackles

9: Carl Richardson

QB | 6-foot-4, 207 LBS | Sophomore | Salinas, California

Likely Role in 2021: Reserve quarterback

Throughout the offseason, Pat Fitzgerald has been very deliberate at not naming a starting quarterback. However, most people assume that Ryan Hilinski will be slinging the pigskin week one, backed by either Andrew Marty or Hunter Johnson. It is likely that Richardson will use this 2021 season to get in practice reps and to further familiarize himself with the Mike Bajakian offense.

Career Stats: N/A

8: Te-Rah Edwards

DT | 6-foot-2, 294 LBS | Sophomore | Groveport, Ohio

Likely Role in 2021: Reserve defensive tackle

Edwards, a three-star recruit out of Groveport Madison High School, did not see much action during his true freshman season, but that could change in 2021. Edwards has good size, and with Earnest Brown IV getting drafted, there is a chance that Edwards could earn more playing time. The highly recruited prospect out of high school has loads of potential and does not seem to be far off from becoming a key piece in the Wildcat defense.

Career Stats: Two games played, one tackle

8: Wayne Dennis Jr.

WR | 6-foot-3, 200 LBS | Redshirt Sophomore | Tampa, Florida

Likely Role in 2021: Starting wide receiver

Dennis is one of the few returning players to have appeared in all nine games in the 2020 season. In 2021, Dennis will likely see more snaps at receiver. His 6-foot-3, 200 lbs. frame is ideal for a wide receiver, so look for Dennis to take advantage of size mismatches in the upcoming season versus opposing defensive backs.

Career Stats: 12 games played, two receptions, 26 yards

7: Andrew Marty

QB | 6-foot-3, 224 LBS | Senior | Cincinnati, Ohio

Likely Role in 2021: Reserve quarterback

Marty saw most of his action in 2019 when quarterbacks Hunter Johnson and Aidan Smith went down with injuries. In his five appearances, Marty did seem to struggle, but that should be expected from a quarterback who was not getting starter reps for a majority of the season. One bright spot of Marty’s game is his ability to run, so if Marty does see action in this 2021 season, expect his quick feet to be a game changer.

Career Stats: Nine games played, 14/22 attempts completed, 150 yards, two TDs, two INTs

7: Ore Adeyi

CB | 5-foot-10, 175 LBS | First-Year | Mansfield, Texas

Likely Role in 2021: Reserve cornerback/Redshirt

First year cornerback Ore Adeyi is joining a loaded Northwestern defensive back squad led by Brandon Joseph and A.J. Hampton. Adeyi has the potential to become the next great Northwestern DB as he possesses extreme athleticism. He was a multi-sport athlete in high school, and saw action on both sides of the ball, racking up over 216 receiving yards as a wide receiver.

Career stats: N/A

6: Malik Washington

WR | 5-foot-9, 192 LBS | Junior | Lawrenceville, Georgia

Likely Role in 2021: Starting wide receiver

Washington has not received consistent playing time in his career at Northwestern, but I believe that will change in 2021. Late in the 2020 season, Washington entered the transfer portal before he ultimately decided to return to the ‘Cats offense. With receivers Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman and Riley Lees gone, this opens up an opportunity for Washington to step in and become a solid piece in the offense. With experience Bajakian’s offense, Washington has the potential to be an electric playmaker for the ‘Cats.

Career Stats: 16 games played, 11 receptions, 76 yards

5: Stephon Robinson Jr.

WR | 5-foot-10, 180 LBS | Graduate Student | Los Angeles, California

Likely Role In 2021: Starting wide receiver

Early on this past offseason, Northwestern landed one of their biggest transfers in Robinson out of the University of Kansas, where he racked up over 1000 career yards as a Jayhawk. He was only able to play in three games in 2020 due to injury, but with a fresh start in Evanston, Robinson is predicted to be one of the top options at receiver. In 2021, look for one of our newest ‘Cats to be carving through opposing defenses.

Career Stats: 27 games played, 75 receptions, 1,092 yards

5: Jeffery Pooler Jr.

DL | 6-foot-2, 250 LBS | Graduate Student | Dayton, Ohio

Likely Role: Starting defensive lineman

The West Virginia transfer is set to make an immediate impact on the Wildcat front. Pooler was a dominant force at West Virginia, racking up six tackles for loss and three sacks in the 2020 season at West Virginia. His size and playing experience will most likely be a pivotal part of NU’s run defense in 2021. Pooler is positioned to have a career year, so expect him to be a disruptive force for Pat Fitzgerald’s defense on Saturdays.

Career Stats: 28 games played, 52 tackles, 6.5 sacks

4: Berkeley Holman

WR | 5-foot-11, 197 LBS | Senior | Irvine, California

Likely Role in 2021: Backup wide receiver

Holman has more experience as a receiver in the Bajakian offense than almost anyone else in the locker room, which could lead to him playing in crunch time late in the season. He has not received consistent playing time over his career with the ‘Cats, but he is still a real threat especially when he is in the open field.

Career Stats: 22 games played, 16 receptions, 183 yards

3: JJ Jefferson

WR | 5-foot-10, 180 LBS | Senior | Houston, Texas

Likely Role: Starting wide receiver

One word to describe Jefferson would be elusive. The Houston native sees the game in a different light that allows him to evade defenders with ease. Jefferson opted out of the 2020 season and his big play ability was something that the ‘Cats could have taken advantage of in the abbreviated season. I predict that Jefferson will pick up where he left off in the 2019 season and will continue making explosive plays on a regular basis.

Career Stats: 19 games played, 22 receptions, 336 yards

2: Jordan Mosley

WR | 6-foot-0, 190 LBS | First-Year | Mobile, Alabama

Likely role: Reserve wide receiver

Mosley is the highest rated wide receiver commit that Northwestern has had in program history, coming in with four stars. The Alabama native is an elusive playmaker that has the potential to take over a game at any moment. I would expect Mosley to work his way up the receiving ranks quickly while also cementing himself as one of Coach Fitzgerald’s go-to guys.

Career Stats: N/A

2: Cameron Mitchell

DB | 6-foot-0, 195 LBS | Redshirt Sophomore | Bolingbrook, Illinois

Likely Role in 2021: Starting cornerback

Mitchell was a part of the hard hitting 2021 secondary that was captained by Greg Newsome and JR Pace. He first saw action in NU’s second game of the season versus Iowa and secured a spot in the rotation for the rest of the season. Mitchell looked very promising in 2020 and I would expect him to take a leap in this 2021 season, possibly even achieving All-Big Ten Honors.

Career stats: 12 games played, 19 tackles, one INT

0: Cole Freeman

QB | 6-feet, 205 LBS | First-Year | Summit, New Jersey

Likely Role in 2021: Redshirt

Freeman committed to the ‘Cats in late March, less than a week after he de-committed from Brown. In high school he was one of New Jersey’s premier quarterbacks, possessing a dangerous dual-threat aspect to his game. Although it is unlikely that Freeman will see any playing time in 2021, he has some serious potential.

Career Stats: N/A

0: Coco Azema

DB | 5-foot-11, 185 LBS | Redshirt Sophomore | Cypress, Texas

Likely Role: Starting/back up defensive back

Azema is one of the most exciting guys to watch on the entirety of the Northwestern football team due to his versatility. He is a guy that can adjust and adapt to multiple different positions, even seeing some snaps on offense in the 2019 season. There is no doubt in my mind that he is a starting-caliber defensive back, but due to the abundance of depth that is present at that position, it is possible that Azema starts the season as a back up. No matter where or when Azema sees the field, he will surely make an impact on the game.

Career Stats: 13 games played, nine tackles, one INT