Notes: Wildcats Gets Physical

Northwestern took to the Nicolet Center practice field on Thursday morning for a physical workout. The Wildcats hosted a number of recruits, and they watched an intense practice. Go inside for the latest with the Wildcats in this PurpleWildcats.com practice report.

•The Wildcats were in full pads on Thursday. The players participated in a physical 20-period practice, which was highlighted by the always entertaining 'board drill.' "I thought today was a pretty physical go," said Fitzgerald. "By design, we really pushed the tempo."

Northwestern hosted a number of recruits at practice today. Each prospect got an up-close look at the board drill, bringing out big smiles.

•In the beginning of practice, the linebackers squared off with the running backs in a drill which focused on stopping flat routes behind the line of scrimmage. This really displayed the tremendous athleticism of the Wildcat linebackers.

•Much of the focus has been on Northwestern's young linebackers, but a name to watch out for is senior Roderick Goodlow, who has been very impressive. Goodlow has battled various injuries, but looked more mobile than ever in practice on Thursday. If healthy, he very well could compete for a starting job.

•This isn't the first time I've documented it, but redshirt freshman Zack Oliver has been very impressive. He is throwing the ball with confidence and more velocity that he has ever displayed. Trevor Siemian continued to impress, too. Also, Fitzgerald said he is pleased with the improvements of former walk-on P.J. Carollo. NU's depth at quarterback is quite strong this season.

•Northwestern's depth may be better at wide receiver than any other position. Kyle Prater, Rashad Lawrence, Tony Jones and Demetrius Fields are likely to see the most playing time, but the three receivers from the 2011 recruiting class -- Christian Jones, Pierre Youngblood and Cameron Dickerson -- have each looked very impressive. Both Youngblood and Dickerson have added size to compete in the Big Ten.

•Sophomore Jack Konopka started at tackle, then moved to superback, then back to guard, and saw some reps as the first-team tackle today. He has the versatility to play anywhere on the offensive line.

•A name to watch for on the defense is safety Jimmy Hall, who has worked in with the first-team defense at times during the spring. Hall has the ability to lay some punishing hits, but also has developed as a pass defender. His progress is surely encouraging.

Pat Fitzgerald said he is excited and feeling good about his good friend Luke Donald, who tees off in the Masters today. "He's the world's best," Fitzgerald said with a smile.

•The Wildcats return to the practice field on Saturday morning. However, that practice is closed to the public and media. Afterwards, NU will practice twice more before the spring game on April 14th.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college football, college basketball and college baseball for Fox Sports & Scout.com since 2009. He served as a writer for Big Red Report, covering Nebraska athletics, and is now the Publisher of PurpleWildcats.com, covering the Northwestern Wildcats.
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