Spring Practice Winners

In this Purple Wildcats Insider update, Sylvan Lane breaks down some winners from Northwestern's final spring practice of 2013.

On Saturday, Northwestern capped off spring practices, as the team gathered one last time before classes let out and the pre-season begins. While many players have made marked improvements, a few Wildcats stood out during final drills of the offseason.

Treyvon Green, RB

Northwestern's corps of talented running backs is one of the deepest contingents on the team. While Venric Mark and Mike Trumpy figure to serve at the forefront of the unit in 2013, Treyvon Green could fight for carries if he can build off of Saturday's strong practice. Green spun and slashed his way across the field in a brief scrimmage, showcasing his strongest asset: his elusiveness. The junior also repeatedly and successfully fought tooth and nail for that extra yard on each carry.

Green's path to regular playing time is on the longer side, but after suffering a pre-season injury last year, he's been able to come back from more difficult circumstances.

"[Treyvon is] a great example of how to respond to adversity," Pat Fitzgerald said after the game. "But at the end of the day, I think he's a young man that's incredibly humble, and works diligently with a perfect attitude."

Shane Mertz, OL

It's safe to call Shane Mertz a standout offensive lineman if for no other reason than his massive 6'8", 295 lb. frame. However, the redshirt sophomore used it to his advantage Saturday, making a strong case to start on one of the most integral units of the Wildcats team.

If the rushing game is the engine of Northwestern's success, the offensive line is the spark plug that sets it off. With Brian Mulroe and Patrick Ward gone, Mertz may secure a starting spot at right tackle.

Mertz excelled at slowing the pass rush and creating holes for rushers during the 7-on-7 drills and scrimmage, making one particularly outstanding block that gave Trevor Siemian just enough time to turn a sure sack into an incompletion. There are several capable candidates to start on the offensive line come August, but Mertz made a strong case in his final opportunity of the spring.

Tony Jones, WR

After spending the 2011 season on the sidelines, Tony Jones bounced back successfully in 2012, reeling in a team-high four touchdown receptions and notching 335 yards in the process. In practice, the redshirt junior continued this upward trend with reception after reception, culminating with an impressive touchdown grab in the corner of the end zone.

Northwestern has embraced a run-centric offense facilitated by Kain Colter and Mark, but the spread still lends itself well to a speedy slot receiver like Jones, who has the potential to fill Jeremy Ebert-like role for both Colter and Siemian.

With Demetrius Fields gone, Jones has the opportunity to become a much more prominent part of the Northwestern passing game. While he gushed about the skills of his fellow receivers, along with the development of Colter, Jones displayed his own ability quite well Saturday.

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