After the departure of linebackers Chris Bergin and Pete McIntyre, Northwestern turned to the transfer portal to restock its LB corps. One such player that the Wildcats added was Wendell Davis Jr., a redshirt junior from Pitt.
Inside NU had the chance to speak with Davis about a number of topics following last week’s practice. From his transition to Evanston and new coaching staff to his role on NU’s defense facing to his old offensive coordinator in Week Zero, learn more about Davis in this Q&A.
Inside NU: Overall, how has the transition been coming from Pitt?
I think the transition has been great. I think all the guys on the team have really accepted me. The coaches have really made it an easy transition. I’m excited to learn from Coach Fitzgerald, one of the best linebackers to play college, and [linebackers] Coach [Tim] MaGarigle, too.
INU: What have your early impressions been of Fitzgerald, and how does he compare to Pat Narduzzi over at Pitt?
I’m not gonna compare the two, but I like Coach Fitz’s energy. I like the way he coaches. He means business, but I think he tries to maintain a positive attitude, and he motivates us to work every day. I enjoy both head coaches.
INU: Coming off of that ACC Championship* at Pitt, how do you think you can bring a winning edge to this program?
*Note: Davis transferred on Nov. 3 before the conclusion of the season.
Obviously, at Pitt, we had a great year this past season. But in Northwestern’s history, the past five years, I think the winning attitude’s already established here. Obviously, I know last year wasn’t the year they wanted, but I think the winning culture is already established here. I’m just ready to add another piece to the puzzle.
INU: Pitt’s old offensive coordinator, Mark Whipple, is now the OC at Nebraska. What’s your relationship like with Coach Whipple, and what are some things you’re going to be expecting out of that Nebraska offense?
I don’t want to talk too much, but I think I have a good idea what to see. But you never know, though. He’s [at] a new place, he’s at a new system. I had actually had a good relationship with Coach Whipple back at Pitt; I liked him over there. We’ll see.
INU: You come here to fill that linebacker spot. What type of linebacker do you view yourself as?
I just view myself as a guy who can play where the coach plays me, whether it’s inside, outside. I’m a team player, and I feel with my skillset, I can pretty much plug in wherever the coaches want to play me.
INU: Northwestern lost two of its starting linebackers last year. What have you seen from this LB group, and have any faces or names started to emerge in camp?
A lot of guys are hungry. It’s gonna be a new group; besides myself, I think Bryce Gallagher is the only guy, really, with experience in the room. Everyone’s very talented. It’s all about just making it happen and showing it on gameday. That’s a big thing — performing on gameday. I’m excited to see all of us do our thing next Saturday. It’s gonna be fun to watch.
INU: One of those guys last year, one of the leading tacklers in the country, was Bergin. Have you had any relationship with him, any conversation about what it’s like to man that linebacker position for the ‘Cats?
I’ve talked to him a couple times around the facility. By the time I came in here, he was already gone. But just watching the way he works, from just watching game film, he’s relentless; he’s never loafing, he always has the effort. He’s definitely a guy that, from just a motor standpoint, you want to play like. He gets the job done, and that’s why I like watching him play.
INU: Last year, Pitt had Kenny Pickett, a quarterback that made a big ascendance up the college football ranks. Are there any guys on this team you could see making a similar jump, especially under center?
We have a lot of talented players on the team. I think this team is so special because we have a lot of guys that don’t really have that experience. We’re gonna see on Saturday. I want the work that we put in spring, summer and fall camp to show on Saturday in Dublin.
INU: Overall, what are your individual and season goals and expectations on a personal and team level?
First of all, for team sakes, I want to be the best player I can for this team — special teams, defense, whatever it is. The main goal is just to win. I want to win, go to a bowl game, have fun, really soak in this year. Personally, I just want to be the best version of myself. Everyone has personal goals, but at the end of the day, I just have to be the best version of myself and let the rest take care of itself.