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Northwestern defense welcomes two graduate transfers

NU’s two newest additions are both in positions of need.

Byron Hetzler

Following months of radio silence, the Wildcats have finally locked in a pair of graduate transfers to fill glaring holes in their roster.

Edge rusher Richie Hagarty became the second player of the offseason to transfer to Northwestern, joining wide receiver Cameron Johnson. The graduate defender from New Palestine, Indiana, previously played at Southern Illinois in 2022 and at Miami (OH) in the two seasons prior. Despite entering his fifth year of playing college football, Hagarty will have two years of eligibility remaining due to a redshirt year and the use of the COVID year.

Hagarty announced Tuesday on Twitter that he’d be joining the Wildcats.

As an outside linebacker and defensive end, Hagarty earned first team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors while logging 6.5 sacks, nine tackles-for-loss and 28 total tackles in 10 games. The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Hagarty made a big impact in the Salukis’ win over Northwestern, forcing a fourth-quarter Evan Hull fumble. As a junior at SIU, Hagarty tallied 4.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles-for-loss, 38 total tackles and led the team with eight quarterback hits.

Twelve minutes after Hagarty announced his commitment, he was joined by a second portal transfer: former Fresno State defensive tackle Matthew Lawson.

Lawson, standing at 6-foot-even and 283 pounds, comes to Evanston after a five-year stint in Fresno. In 24 games, Lawson had 18 total tackles (eight solo) and two tackles-for-loss in a primarily reserve role. Lawson will step into a defensive line that was ravaged by an exodus last fall, and will immediately have the chance to compete for a starting role.

The transfer portal officially closed on April 30, but it’s very possible we see some more commitments become public over the next few days. If not, Northwestern has welcomed its three graduate additions in Johnson, Hagarty and Lawson to the three most depleted position groups on the team, and all three will likely be able to see significant minutes in 2023.