From April 27-29, Northwestern football achieved a watershed moment — and one occurring off the field of play at that.
In the 2023 NFL Draft, four Wildcats — Peter Skoronski, Adetomiwa Adebawore, Cameron Mitchell and Evan Hull — heard their names called, all before the end of the fifth round. That marked the first time since 1985 that NU had four players taken in one year’s draft.
However, the positive energy emanating out of Evanston was not stopped there.
Following the conclusion of the draft, three ‘Cats — receiver Donny Navarro III, running back Andrew Clair and defensive lineman Taishan Holmes — did not receive offers to sign as undrafted free agents, yet were still granted invites to NFL teams’ rookie minicamps. Navarro and Clair stayed close to home with the Chicago Bears, while Holmes ventured to Ashburn, Virginia to try out with the Washington Commanders.
Navarro and Clair practiced with the Bears’ collection of 14 UDFAs and 28 unsigned rookies from May 5-6 in nearby Lake Forest, Illinois. Navarro was one of nine receivers, while Clair joined fellow running back and fourth-round pick Roschon Johnson.
After the conclusion of rookie minicamp, the Bears signed four players while cutting three UDFAs, leaving Navarro and Clair unsigned.
For Washington, Holmes — a native Virginian — was one of 35 tryout players also working out with the team’s 12 UDFAs. The Commanders held their minicamp May 12-14.
Though the future of all three NU products is uncertain, they may have additional chances to prove their skills in later tryouts. NFL mandatory minicamps will be held throughout June, with the Bears’ June 13-15, for instance. Additionally, Navarro, Clair or Holmes could try out for a team’s practice squad as rosters are finalized in September, not to mention throughout the 2023 season.