Let the frenzy begin.
With the 2023 season officially over, all the attention turns to the offseason, more specifically the transfer portal. Throughout the offseason, Inside NU will keep you updated on all things regarding the portal. This story will continue to be updated throughout the winter and spring.
OL Matt Keeler (Texas Tech)
On Feb. 19, Keeler tweeted that he has committed to Northwestern. The grad transfer appeared in each of Texas Tech’s last 26 games over 2022 and 2023, and made a few spot starts at tackle along the way. He should provide some versatility for a Northwestern offensive line that will be without Josh Priebe and Dom D’Antonio in 2024.
LG Josh Priebe — Committed to Michigan
Priebe was the first starter to enter his name in the transfer portal, announcing his departure from Evanston before the Las Vegas Bowl. Priebe played in all 12 regular season games in 2023 after missing time in 2022 with a torn ACL, and he earned Third Team All-Big Ten honors. In a statement posted to Twitter, Priebe cited uncertainty regarding OL coach Kurt Anderson’s job security as a reason for leaving Northwestern. On Dec. 28, Priebe — a native Michigan resident — announced his commitment to U of M.
DB Rod Heard II — Committed to Notre Dame
Heard became Northwestern’s second major transfer exit, announcing the move on Dec. 28. The grad transfer was a linchpin of the Wildcats’ defense for several years as a nickel/slot cornerback, earning a team-best 82.3 Pro Football Focus grade and accumulating four TFLs, an interception, a sack, four pass deflections, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and 85 tackles this year.
Heard announced on Twitter on Jan. 10 that he will head to South Bend, picking the Fighting Irish over the likes of Ohio State, USC and Louisville.
CB Garnett Hollis Jr. — Committed to West Virginia
Hollis, the Wildcats’ top corner from 2023, announced he would enter the portal as a grad transfer on Feb. 13. Last season, Hollis allowed an 85.4 passer rating against and tallied an interception, fumble recovery and three pass deflections. Thus far, Hollis has accrued offers from West Virginia and Georgia Tech.
Without Hollis and Heard in the fold, Northwestern’s cornerback room features returner Theran Johnson, plus Ore Adeyi and Evan Smith. It’s expected that NU will add at least one CB this spring.
Hollis followed Joseph’s footsteps, as he committed to the Mountaineers a few days after his secondary partner did.
S Jaheem Joseph — Committed to West Virginia
Joseph entered his name in the portal on Feb. 5, departing Northwestern as a grad transfer with two years of eligibility remaining. Joseph was part of a three-headed monster in the backend but saw an increase in snaps when Coco Azema went down with an injury. In his bigger role, Joseph hauled in three interceptions in the final two games, including two picks during the Las Vegas Bowl.
RB Anthony Tyus III — Committed to Ohio
Per Rivals, Tyus entered the portal on Dec. 30. The junior rushed for 238 yards and a touchdown on 50 carries in 2023. He shared that he will suit up for Ohio next fall on Jan. 26.
DT Matt Lawson
Lawson played only 16 snaps in NU’s opener at Rutgers after suffering a season-ending knee injury. Otherwise, he would’ve figured to be a starter on the inside of Christian Smith’s revamped defensive line. Now, he’ll hit the portal for a second straight offseason.
OL Alexander Doost — Committed to Arizona
The first-year offensive lineman announced on Dec. 27 via Twitter that he would be entering the portal. The Arizona native announced his commitment to the western Wildcats on Dec. 30.
DB Nigel Williams
Williams entered the portal at the end of November. With two years of eligibility, the Virginia native will look for a new home after playing four games in 2023.
QB Cole Freeman — Committed to Columbia
Freeman entered the portal on Dec. 4, per On3. He’ll look for a chance at more playing time after providing depth at the back of the quarterback room during his three seasons in Evanston. The junior QB started the final two games of the 2022 season against Purdue and Illinois.
OL Zachary Franks
Per Rivals, Franks entered the transfer portal on Jan. 16. After playing 24 games in five seasons for the ‘Cats, the grad transfer will look to finish off his career elsewhere. He opened the 2023 season as Northwestern’s starting right tackle before Josh Thompson took the role during the second half of NU’s blowout win over UTEP.
ILB Xander Mueller
So far, Mueller is the only Wildcat to announce his intentions to stay for his fifth season, which he did Thursday afternoon on Instagram. Mueller was the centerpiece of Northwestern’s upstart defense this past season, earning Third Team All-Big Ten plaudits by posting three interceptions, 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, 110 tackles and a forced fumble. His NFL stock was already on the upswing, but Mueller will look to (if it’s even possible) have an even better 2024 in purple and white.
WR A.J. Henning
After Henning responded to and liked tweets to indicate that he’ll be back in 2024, he announced on Twitter that he would return to Evanston in 2024 on Dec. 29. Without Cam Johnson and possibly Kirtz, he’ll have the chance to have a more feature role as potentially the ‘Cats’ top pass-catcher next year.
EDGE Richie Hagarty
Hagarty posted on Twitter that he’ll be suiting up as a Wildcat for one final year in 2024. The Southern Illinois native posted 14 pressures, 2.5 sacks, four tackles for loss and a fumble recovery in 2023.
ILB Bryce Gallagher
Gallagher announced on Jan. 3 that he would forgo his final year of eligibility and enter his name in the NFL Draft. The ‘Cats’ two-year captain had 120 tackles, an interception and two forced fumbles — earning a spot Second-Team All-Big Ten team.
RG Dom D’Antonio
D’Antonio is turning pro — but as a coach in Italy, that is. It was announced on Jan. 22 that D’Antonio will become the offensive line coach of the Lazio Marines, who are in the Italian Football League’s First Division and are based in Rome.
To Be Determined
WR Bryce Kirtz
Despite being a fifth-year in 2023, Kirtz possesses an extra year of eligibility awarded to players on rosters of teams playing during the COVID-19 pandemic (both redshirted in 2019). However, he could decide to turn pro after a relatively solid season and career.
S Coco Azema
Azema redshirted his first season in 2019 and spent five total seasons in Evanston. He has one more year left due to COVID.
EDGE Jaylen Pate
Pate has a year of eligibility left on the docket, according to his Twitter page. In becoming the Wildcats’ top regular EDGE player last year, Pate posted a team-best 21 pressures, not to mention three sacks, three TFLs and a forced fumble. It would certainly provide a critical add to a deeper group if he joins Hagarty in coming back.
RB Cam Porter
Porter has two years left of eligibility due to COVID and a medical redshirt when he tore his ACL in fall camp in 2021. In 2023, Porter served as the bell cow for the Wildcats, racking up 651 rushing yards and four touchdowns, adding 121 and a score in the passing game. No. 4 started to find his groove in the back half of the season, having strong performances against Wisconsin and Purdue. In 2024, the ‘Cats may take a back-by-committee approach with Joseph Himon II, Tre Tyus II, and Caleb Komolafe showing flashes in 2023.
EDGE Sean McLaughlin
OC Ben Wrather
Players Out of Eligibility
QB Ben Bryant
WR Cam Johnson
TE Charlie Mangieri