Good Cat, Bad Cat: Traveon's Time

With Northwestern's final spring practice slated for Saturday, players continue to rise and fall through the ranks. In this Purple Wildcats insider update, check out who has momentum and who's fading as the team readies for training camp.

Rising

Traveon Henry, safety

Henry's been sideline-to-sideline this spring, muscling his way into the starting spot (just about) with strong practice play. He's picked up receivers over the top and has been up on run defense as well. An outstanding athlete who didn't see much time last year, Henry's spring should earn him plenty of playing time in 2013.

Stephen Buckley, running back

True, Venric Mark will be taking the bulk of the carries this fall, but redshirt freshman Stephen Buckley figures to be involved in the offense as well after a big spring. Buckley dominated in Saturday's open spring practice and has looked great in the screen game. Listed at just 170 lbs., Buckley's second-level speed and pass-catching ability makes him a future playmaker.

Cameron Dickerson, wide receiver

Despite tallying just nine catches last season, Dickerson's poised for a huge 2013. The redshirt sophomore torched corners in 7-on-7 drills Tuesday, and has been heavily involved in the offense all spring. Tied for the tallest wideout on the team, Dickerson's focused on giving the Wildcats a deeper dimension this season. "Cam's had a great spring, he's taken the necessary steps to really be heavily involved in the offense," head coach Pat Fitzgerald said after Tuesday's practice.

Dan Vitale, superback

This is an obvious call. Vitale exploded at the end of last season and was the clear-cut best receiver in the Gator Bowl. Now seeing an augmented role in practice, the sophomore superback is working on his upper-body blocking and seems ready for a big season. "If I'm able to do more than I did last year, it'll leave defenses vulnerable," he told PW last Saturday. "We'll be able to take advantage of that."

Geoff Mogus, offensive guard

After earning Academic All-Big Ten honors last year, Mogus is the assumed starter at left guard this fall. He's looked sharp in practice and has developed a rapport with center Brandon Vitable.

Ifeadi Odenigbo, defensive end

Odenigbo is living up to his monstrous potential, continually disrupting the pocket in spring ball and seeing reps along the d-line. After recording a few pressures in Tuesday's practice, the four-star recruit looks ready for a full season. He's added some weight and still looks quick off the snap. "I'm still trying to pick up the defense because I'm kind of behind from my injury," he said Tuesday. It hasn't shown thus far.

Falling

Kyle Prater, wide receiver

It's sad to see, but Kyle Prater continues to fall through the ranks in the receiving corps. Shelved with an injury, Prater's been unable to prove himself while Dickerson, Christian and Tony Jones and even Mike Jensen have looked sharp. Prater shouldn't expect to see the field much as the season begins.

Northwestern's offensive tackles

Tuesday was an ugly outing for the O-line. Trevor Siemian was flushed out of the pocket on a few instances, and with Jack Konopka and Paul Jorgensen combatting injuries, the tackles are still adjusting to the Wildcats' front four. The offensive line's morale seems to be at an all-time high, but the Cats need to shore up their protection on the edge before Opening Day.

C.J. Bryant and Dwight White, cornerbacks

Both reserve corners haven't done anything to earn more reps this spring. With Nick VanHoose sidelined, neither Bryant nor White have fared especially well in 7-on-7 drills. As Northwestern's receivers have looked good this practice session, its corners still need some work. Expect Daniel Jones to retain his starting position, as no one else has stood out.


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