Pat Fitzgerald officially announced the addition of seven transfer commits to the Northwestern Football roster Tuesday afternoon. All seven attended the team’s first spring practice in Evanston the same day.
Three graduate transfers will join Northwestern’s defensive line: Henrik Barndt from Indiana State, Taishan Holmes from UMass and Ryan Johnson from Stanford. Johnson was the most productive of the three in 2021, starting all 12 games for the Cardinal and recording 16 tackles. Barndt played in 28 games at ISU while Holmes appeared in 12 during his two seasons at Massachusetts.
Former Duke cornerback Jeremiah Lewis and former Pittsburgh linebacker Wendell Davis—also graduate transfers—will add to the unit’s other positional groups. Davis played 26 games for the Panthers while Lewis appeared in 38 games at Duke, picking off Hunter Johnson in a 30-23 victory over Northwestern last year. Both players join the ‘Cats with two years of eligibility remaining.
Offensive lineman Vince Picozzi, a graduate transfer from Colorado State, is the only offensive addition. Picozzi only played in four games last season due to injury, but he played in 39 games for Temple as the team’s starting right guard from 2018 until 2020. His versatility earned him a preseason All-AAC second team bid in 2020.
That leaves sophomore punter Luke Akers as the team’s only undergraduate transfer. Akers, who transferred from UCLA, averaged 43.1 yards on 58 punts. Ranked the sixth-best kicker in the country coming out of high school, Akers may also fill Charlie Kuhbander’s shoes as the team’s starting placekicker this fall.
Fitzgerald will look for the group to provide all-around depth after losing eight players, including former All-American safety Brandon Joseph, to the transfer portal.