NU Media Day Notebook

A number of Wildcat players and coaches were made available to the media for NU Media Day. The afternoon was capped off by a luncheon with Pat Fitzgerald. Get the notes and quotes from the afternoon.

• A number of Wildcats met with the media in Northwestern's Nicolet Football Center. Later, NU head coach Pat Fitzgerald joined the media at a luncheon and spoke for about 30 minutes.

• The start of preseason camp brings intense competition amongst the players—both on the field and under their noses. A group of Northwestern players have formed a mustache competition. They have not configured a way to find a winner, but senior superback Drake Dunsmore is the clubhouse leader. You can see his mustache HERE.

Dan Persa was asked of the high expectations on the team. He said, "We have a lot of guys coming back and a lot of high expectations. Our minds are in the right spot and we're trying to get better every day. We're not there yet; we've got a long way to go. We're still putting things together."

• Persa spoke of the "PersaStrong" campaign as only Persa can. If it's good for Northwestern, good for my team, puts more people in the stands, that's fine with me.

• When asked of missing time last season, Persa said it gave him a perspective on things he wouldn't normally notice.

• For the record, even Persa is a part of the mustache competition.

• Senior defensive tackle Jack DiNardo is a part of a defensive line which has some tough competition brewing. There is a vacancy at defensive tackle and defensive end. DiNardo said of the competition, "People are competing, but they're also helping each other get the defense down, learn their assignments, and learn the small details."

• One of the guys battling for a starting spot is Kevin Watt. DiNardo said of Watt, "He's playing fast and at a high level. He realizes it's his senior year and he'll be ready to go."

• DiNardo also said he's excited about the progression that Niko Mafuli has made. He said, "He's lost some weight getting ready for the season, he's coming in with the best shape he's ever been in. We're really excited to see what he brings to the defense.

• During the offseason, DiNardo said he benefitted greatly from having Corey Wootton and Corbin Bryant present at Northwestern during the NFL lockout. Wootton spent time working with DiNardo on details and techniques—specifically with pass rush drills, which DiNardo is working hard to improve. "All those little things were great to hear from them and learn from them this summer," DiNardo said.

• DiNardo is also a part of the mustache competition. He said he got a late start, but is hoping his mustache models that of Mike Ditka.

• NU senior superback Drake Dunsmore said he hasn't had to give much help to newly-converted superback Jack Konopka. Dunsmore also said he was excited to see the 285-pounder join the group. "I think it scares the defense a bit," he added.

• When asked about his health, Dunsmore said, "Everything's good."

• Dunsmore also happens to be the clubhouse leader in mustache growing. Jack DiNardo said, "We're really excited with how Drake's mustache is coming in."

• NU running back Mike Trumpy said his right hand feels great and he has no fear when using it in practice.

• Trumpy talked about the running backs carrying a bigger load for the offense. He said, "If we can take pressure off him, that's great."

• During the media luncheon, Pat Fitzgerald touched on some heavy issues such as NCAA violations. He said he hopes college coaches will be accountable for their team's mistakes, adding that he would deserve blame if an assistant committed a violation.

• The best line of the day came from Pat Fitzgerald. He said he hopes his players "don't strive to play in the Pizza City Bowl."

• will have full video from the media luncheon with Pat Fitzgerald. That will be posted later.

• As always, PW will have a practice report and post-practice video from today. That will be up when practice comes to an end.

Dan Persa
Drake Dunsmore
Jack DiNardo
Mike Trumpy

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