Wildcats get back to action

The football season has arrived, with the first summer practice marking the start of a new year. Northwestern took to the practice field for a two-hour workout. PurpleWildcats.com offers up notes, quotes, and more from the first practice in Evanston.

Northwestern opened up its 2012 season with a practice on Monday afternoon. The team donned just helmets with no pads as it got back to the basics.

• The Wildcats enter the camp with no injuries. However, practice ended with a scary moment as freshman running back Malin Jones spent 15 minutes on the ground, surrounded by trainers. He would be carted off, but it was a precautionary as he was dealing with severe dehydration.

• With no early enrollees, Monday's practice offered the first look at Northwestern's new freshmen class. One of the key members of that group is former four-star prospect Ifeadi Odenigbo. During one of The Opening drills in practice, Odenigbo found himself doing pushups at the demands of a coach.

• It was a busy practice for Odenigbo, the Centerville, OH native. Recruited as a linebacker, Odenigbo also worked in at defensive end. During the practice, he shifted between the linebackers and defensive line. That puts more on his plate for the first weeks of practice.

• Odenigbo has added some size since entering campus at 209 pounds. He now weighs in at 226 pounds. As a track star in high school, Odenigbo couldn't add weight. Now that he is solely focused on football, he can add to his frame.

• Another new change on Northwestern's roster is that senior Roderick Goodlow has moved to play defensive end.

• Former quarterback Evan Watkins begins his first full season as a superback for the Wildcats. He does have the athleticism to possibly make an impact in the offense. He showed steady hands during passing drills, too. It was a good start for Watkins, now wearing the number 81.

USC transfer Kyle Prater took part in his first practice since he learned the news of his eligibility last week. Prater said he is "humble" as he looks ahead to the season. Prater looks every bit of his 6-foot-5 frame while in uniform.

• After missing most of the 2011 season, Mike Trumpy is back to full health and it shows on the field. Trumpy appears to have his full speed back. It's also worth noting that Trumpy has changed his jersey number from 29 to 32.

• The Wildcats' offensive line has a couple spots open for competition -- right guard and right tackle. Sophomore guard Paul Jorgensen saw most reps with the first-team offensive line, while senior Chuck Porcelli worked in as the first-unit right tackle. Another name to watch for his redshirt freshman Shane Mertz, who could compete for a starting job.

Venric Mark, who had a standout performance during the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, is working full-time at running back, moving from wide receiver. Mark is listed at 5-foot-8, 175 pounds, known for his breakaway speed, but he runs through the middle with some force. It will be interesting to see what force he runs with in pads.

• Monday marked the first practice as a Wildcat for Stanford transfer, fifth-year senior Quinn Evans. The newcomer should bring some experience to a young group.

• Evans joined the team during the summer and has been able to get acclimated to his new team. Said Evans of his first practice, "I feel like I had a good first day. I feel good."

• At the conclusion of the festivities, a number of the Wildcats -- evidently not tired from practice -- took part in an MMA workout.

The Wildcats return to the practice field on Tuesday afternoon, once again at 4 p.m.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats and Chicago Cubs. He currently resides on Chicago's north side.
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