Judging "importance" goes beyond the starting rotation. It extends to future scout team players and others desperately fighting for reps and recognition.
(Almost out of nowhere, redshirt sophomore wideout Pierre Youngblood-Ary snagged two impressive touchdowns—staking his claim for a serious role in the offense. If but briefly, fall camp can make you believe in anyone.)
Tomorrow, some more roles will crystalize. The true freshmen and select others learn the value of the scout team, which can be beneficial in multiple ways.
Fitzgerald explained one fairly well: "We'll show [them] how it is to be a scout guy… Some guys will have roles that way and give us a good look in all three phases… We'll teach them how to practice in game week."
Challenges in practice obviously help the starters, but there's another key component. Ryan Gorcey of our California site noted that on Monday, the Golden Bears had their scout team imitate NU players including Kain Colter and Dan Vitale.
When facing difficult matchups, the Wildcats also rely on scout team players to mimic tough opponents. Backup running backs are often assigned the role of a fleet-footed Big Ten pivot, and the list goes on.
It takes an extensive process for scout team players to rise up the depth chart. Then, you witness the success stories. Even guys from last year–like Jaylen Prater and Dwight White–look extremely relevant after taking their redshirt years in stride. ("You're going through every experience you have," Fitzgerald said of White. "He's poised to get out there.")
The true challenge begins with the wide-eyed freshman class. Tomorrow, they'll begin to learn the scout team ropes. It's all uphill from here, but it matters right now.
Stay tuned to PurpleWildcats.com for subscriber-exclusive updates as Northwestern returns to practice on Wednesday.