This year, Mike Trumpy and Adonis Smith are likely to be Northwestern's key running backs this season, but Jones has stepped in as a potential key player. He is a hard runner and punishes when carrying the football. Jones had his coming out party in the spring and hopes that carries into August.
Rashad Lawrence—WR (Soph, 6-2, 195): As a freshman, Rashard Lawrence gave the Wildcats some needed depth at wide receiver. He finished 2010 with 12 catches in 13 games. This season, Lawrence could become a key part of the Wildcats' passing attack. Lawrence will cause mismatches for multiple reasons.
With his 6-foot-2 frame, Lawrence has a height advantage against most defensive backs. In addition, Jeremy Ebert and Demetrius Fields are likely to draw most of the attention from the opposition's top cornerbacks, so Lawrence will see matchups against undersized nickelbacks. Lawrence could be a big part of Northwestern's passing game this season.
Tyler Scott—DE (Soph, 6-4, 260): Now in his third year, Scott is an example of how hard work can pay off. In high school, Scott was a linebacker lacking the size to be an impact player in college. This season, Scott is likely to have a key role with the Wildcats' defensive line.
Scott has added 25 pounds of muscle since arriving in the NU football program and is filling into a lineman's body. He enters fall camp as the backup defensive end behind senior Kevin Watt, but could challenge Watt for the starting spot. Scott will have an increased role this season and is a lock to start in the future.
Tim Riley—OLB (Soph, 6-3, 220): The Oswego native made major strides in the spring and throughout the offseason and is now in line to have a key role with the Wildcats' linebacker core. Riley is a playmaker at Will linebacker and caught the eye of head coach Pat Fitzgerald during the spring.
He is unlikely to start, but has solidified the backup spot behind senior Bryce McNaul. Look for Riley to see increased reps this season as he rotates with McNaul. Once the depth chart clears out, Riley will become the full-time starter at outside linebacker.
Ibraheim Campbell—Safety (5-11, 205): In April, Pat Fitzgerald admitted one of his greatest regrets from 2010 was allowing freshman Ibraheim Campbell to redshirt. Of course, Fitzgerald is happy to have Campbell around for one more season now.
This season, Campbell will serve as a backup to returning starter Brian Peters but will have other duties with the defense. He could serve as Northwestern's nickelback and will see reps while Peters is on the sidelines. Campbell will also have a major role on special teams. Campbell emerged as a surprise in the spring and set the tone for a bright future with the Wildcats' defense. His stock is on the rise.