The Early 2 Deep for Illinois

With no major injuries Saturday, the <b>Northwestern Wildcats</b> will face the rested <b>Fighting Illini</b> with essentially the same team, but with a few of the injured starters available.<br><br> Its also about time to recognize some of the <b>Scout Team</b> standouts for the <b>Wildcats</b>.

Observations on the Official Media release for Illinois
It appears that the injury situation for the Wildcats hasn't changed much:

Soph Brandon Horn is still starting at the X-Wide Receiver slot as Roger Jordan nurses his bruised ribs. There are reports that Jordan's Sternum Bruise and Mark Philmore's knee injury have improved enough to maybe see some action Saturday.

In the backfield, the Cats are still showing 2 running backs, as Junior Noah Herron continues in his backup RB and starting WR role at the hybrid Back/Wide out position. Senior Jason Wright, ankle sprain and all, is listed as the prospective starter at the primary RB position. The "Rells" -- Terrell Jordan and Derell Jenkins are the backups.

The big question I get from the 2 deep is, "Where's Louis?"

Senior safety Louis Ayeni is again missing as the 5th D-back, and you wonder if his playing days are over because of the shoulder stinger. His presence will be really missed as the Cats try to lockdown the Illini. You have to hope that he will be well enough to play.

All things considered, the Cats got out of the game with Michigan without any reported injuries and should have a couple of receivers back on the sidelines ready to play. You know Quarterback  Brett Basanez will appreciate having Philmore's speed and Jordan's experience back on the field in Champaign Saturday.
Lets take a look at something else found in the weekly release:
Every week the Coaches award Practice Players of the Week. I really wanted to point out the Practice Players, because these folks are the redshirt guys working towards next year while they play the opponents on the Scout team.

There are a few guys on the Scout team that have won the award twice: QB Chris Malleo, for his workup against Kansas and Duke [both wins], and walkon running back Nathan Shanks who got the award for his work getting ready for both Purdue and Michigan.

Another walkon who earned the award was walkon RB Cameron Tajvar. Then there's Frank Bass, a former receiver who has rejoined the team after a year at St. Olaf's. He also has an award for his work prior to Minnesota.

Over on the defense, 3 players have won it twice. LB Eddie Simpson, DL David Ngene, and LB Kyle Wagner. None of them are on the active player roster, [and probably won't be this year], but all have impressed the coaches enough to get the recognition.

Then there's RS Frosh Linebacker Demetrius Eaton who has earned the award on offense and defense.

You can't forget some of the 2 deep guys who have this one too. QB Alexander Webb [Penn State], OL Greg Lutzen [Indiana], CB Anthony Ward [Kansas], DL Trevor Schultz, and LB Eric VanderHorst.

For what its worth, I spend a lot of time coaching our scout team during practices. You try to instill a sense of teamwork in the kids that are not big enough, or experienced enough to play with the big guys, but when they stop your starters, they begin to realize what they can already do as a player.
What's important here is that there are guys willing to play hard to get the team ready each week, and the players listed above are the ones recognized. I think we all look forward to seeing them recognized playing for the Cats on the field next year and beyond.

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