Position Capsule: Defensive Line

Position Capsule: Defensive Line

Northwestern must replace veteran leadership on the defensive line with young talent. With plenty of names to pick from, it shouldn't be a difficult task. PurpleWildcats offers a detailed look at how the Wildcats' front four shapes up for the upcoming season.

The guys we know— Start up the hype machine for senior defensive end Tyler Scott. In his first two seasons as a starter, Scott has keyed the success of Northwestern's pass rush. The results showed last season, with him recording nine sacks. It will be fun to watch how good his senior season can be, especially considering the talent around him.

Chance Carter, Will Hampton, and Sean McEvilly return experience in the middle. On the other end, sophomore Dean Lowry and Deonte Gibson made their presences known last year. If Gibson can avoid injuries, he'll have a big sophomore season.

Dearly Departed— Brian Arnfelt and Quentin Williams made their biggest on-field impacts as seniors. The two brought leadership and steady play to the defensive line.

What about?— It was just about one year ago when Ifeadi Odenigbo hit Evanston with shockwaves, giving his verbal commitment to Northwestern. His freshman season was a bit of a roller coaster. Odenigbo entered the program as a linebacker, then shifted to the front four in an undersized frame. His season ended early with a shoulder injury.

In his time away from action, Odenigbo added considerable size, filling the frame of a defensive end, which the former track star was unable to do in high school. It will be fun to see Odenigbo's abilities on display during the spring when he puts the pads on once again. If the shift to defensive end works as the coaching staff hopes, it will be a wildly successful move.

Keep an eye on— As a freshman, defensive tackle Greg Kuhar had the hopes of making an impact, but injury woes prevented that from happening. With natural talent and necessary size, Kuhar can step into a key role in the middle. Another former wounded warrior to watch for is C.J. Robbins, a redshirted sophomore defensive end, who has yet to see the field. Robbins has developed well and has a great motor to compliment his size.

Entering the fold— Say hello to just one defensive lineman on National Signing Day—three-star prospect Eric Joraskie. A standout at Mount Carmel (Pa.) High School, it's likely he'll be redshirted as a true freshman, as he joins a deep unit filled with young talent.

Prediction— While Tyler Scott will draw the attention of opposing offensive lines, a steady rotation of Deonte Gibson and Dean Lowry will have success at the other end of the line. Also, look for Chance Carter to continue his steady improvements and put together another quality season.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats. He resides on Chicago's north side.
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