Northwestern Practice Notes 4/1

Several notes on a busy practice for Northwestern. More on Miles Shuler, O-line arrangements, and standout plays.

— The first team offensive line stayed the same. Paul Jorgensen, Geoff Mogus, Brandon Vitabile, Matt Frazier and Eric Olson occupy the first five spots. Shane Mertz, Kenton Playko, Hayden Baker, Adam DePietro and Jack Konopka took second team roles, with Jayme Taylor at superback. Taylor, the redshirt freshman, should be the backup superback. Malin Jones has converted back to the RB spot, and will likely be used in specific formations.

— In an offense-only drill, Matt Alviti threw strikes to Taylor, Kyle Prater and Pierre Youngblood-Ary. Alviti showed off his passing skills, with pinpoint accuracy from 25 to 30 yards. Against the first team defense, Trevor Siemian focused on mid-range throws to the sideline, and completed most of them. Zack Oliver flashed his improved running ability and made a solid read to gain yardage.

— Cameron Dickerson ran a nice deep route and barely beat Nick VanHoose for an acrobatic catch. Miles Shuler was terrific, and figures to be used in a variety of ways this year. The Northwestern coaching staff can work with his speed and get him the ball. Tony Jones and Christian Jones have also shown good rapport with Siemian. Today, Tony had a sprawling sideline grab.

— Drew Smith and Jimmy Hall continue to share first-team reps. Both will be on the field this year regardless of who wins the position. Hall made an impact despite his backup role last year. Brett Walsh and Jaylen Prater joined Hall/Smith on the second team, with Anthony Walker taking some reps in the middle as well.

— After just missing the tip when covering Dickerson, VanHoose recovered quickly. Siemian tossed a 40-yard deep ball to Kyle Prater, but VanHoose swatted the ball away. It's tough to judge cornerbacks during the offense-heavy practice, but it was an encouraging sign.

— Godwin Igwebuike and Traveon Henry occupied the safety positions today, with Ibraheim Campbell not participating. We can infer one thing from the Hall-to-linebacker situation: Pat Fitzgerald must feel confident with Igwebuike and Kyle Queiro as his backups.

— Treyvon Green spoke to Sylvan Lane of about his opportunities this spring. Green took the bulk of carries, with Jones and Warren Long taking some as well. Redshirt freshman Xavier Menifield showed some burst during scout team reps. With so much depth at the position–and solid freshmen entering—the offense looks promising. It also helps to have Shuler as a versatile option.

— Other notes: The kicker position is wide open. Jack Mitchell plays for the baseball team, so can't compete in spring drills. Hunter Niswander does not project to be the long-term kicker (he's a punting specialist), and ideally, the Wildcats will land top 2015 recruit Austin Seibert to man the position next year. Connor Mahoney and Greg Kuhar both had opportunities at the defensive tackle position next to C.J. Robbins.

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