Practice Report: Heating Up

One position battle took the forefront at Northwestern's fourth spring practice. Purple Wildcats brings you the key updates from a busy Thursday morning.

- There was one memorable play near the conclusion of Thursday's session. Dan Vitale caught the ball, and safety Jimmy Hall made what Pat Fitzgerald called a "good football play." He tried to back off to avoid unnecessary contact. Despite his efforts, Vitale collided with Hall, which knocked the wind out of the superback.

- The most important development from practice was the growing competition at safety. Fitzgerald said that Hall, Traveon Henry and Davion Fleming are engaged in a close battle for the starting position alongside Ibraheim Campbell. Though Henry appears to be the favorite, Jimmy Hall continues to impress. We'll keep an eye on the situation in the coming weeks. Also of note: Henry did not participate on Thursday.

- Northwestern focused on its offensive balance. The Wildcats practiced several screen plays, and multiple running backs saw opportunities. Stephen Buckley had one of his weaker practices, but he and Malin Jones should earn playing time this season. The running backs went through some footwork drills early in the session.

- Kain Colter looked better on Thursday. He made some impressive throws down the middle of the field, as did Trevor Siemian. Colter appeared to brush off his lethargic performance earlier in the week. Fitzgerald said it can be difficult – with Saturday and Sunday off – to play with energy on Tuesday. He noticed the team's increased intensity this morning.

- The receiver position is already taking shape. Rashad Lawrence turned in his second straight excellent outing. Cameron Dickerson and Christian Jones also played well, and hauled in consecutive one-handed grabs during one-on-one drills.

- With Damien Proby injured, Timmy Vernon held down the middle linebacker position. Proby showed impressive leadership. He stood on the sidelines and gave instructions to the defense. It came as no surprise that Proby was named to the team Leadership Council for the second time.

Northwestern returns to practice next Tuesday. Stay tuned for additional Purple Wildcats stories from the Thursday session.

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