In continuing our summer football coverage, we are counting down Northwestern’s Top 10 most important players in 2022. We’ve created a composite averaging the rankings of each of our staffer’s respective lists, revealing who we believe to be the most crucial to the Wildcat’s upcoming success.
However, we know that is up for interpretation. For some, it could mean the value of one player over his backup. It could mean players in crucial roles. It could also mean players who have underperformed and need to step up.
Only one thing is known: no two lists from our staff members are the same. That’s why for each player, we’ll have at least one member break down their placement for the aforementioned player.
No. 5, LB Bryce Gallagher
Sarah Effress (2)
I ranked Bryce Gallagher unusually high on my list compared to most of my peers because I think he has the most to prove. Over the years, Northwestern’s linebacking corps has oftentimes been one of the program’s strongest groups. However, last season showed us otherwise, despite Chris Bergin leading the conference in tackles. Now, with him out of the picture, it’s Gallagher’s turn to step up and take the helm.
There’s no denying the junior’s abilities. He finished second on the team with 50 total tackles in 2021, and he actually beat out Bergin in tackles for loss (5.5) and sacks (1.0). Having worked alongside the now-NFL free agent and also a member of the roster when the full Irish Law Firm was in attendance, it’s now Gallagher’s turn to take over as leader and command the secondary.
It will be difficult to uplift a group that is undoubtedly losing its best player from 2021, a year where even his prowess couldn’t save Northwestern’s run or pass defense from falling into deep depths from where it was before. With the exception of a couple transfers who fans hope to provide depth, Gallagher will be leading a group of players with minimal collegiate action. Though some of those players have the potential to rise up, it will be eyes on the one returning starter until they settle in.