Godwin Igwebuike will return to lead the Northwestern defensive backfield again in 2017, the junior safety revealed over social media Sunday, dispelling any notion that the squad’s leading tackler might follow fellow junior Anthony Walker to the 2017 NFL Draft.
Igwebuike announced his decision with an Instagram post and a Tweet. He joins junior running back Justin Jackson, who has also said he will return for his final year of eligibility in spite of NFL prospects.
Igwebuike had two interceptions and 108 tackles this fall, leading the back end of an NU defense that allowed just 13 touchdown passes. His return will bolster a team that expects to return most of its starters.
With a bowl victory in hand, some Northwestern players are looking into the next step of their football careers.
Senior receiver Austin Carr finished his year with a program single season record 1247 yards receiving and will begin his preparation for the pros right away, he said. Carr has already accepted an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game, a postseason showcase to be played Jan. 21.
“The NFL has always been a dream of mine,” Carr said. “Hopefully I’m going to be drafted, God willing.”
Juniors Godwin Igwebuike and Anthony Walker have a year of college eligibility remaining and face the decision of whether to leave school early. Each will receive feedback about their pro prospects from the NFL draft advisory board, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune, though neither has made a final decision.
“I’m still thinking it over,” Walker said. “It’s not going to be a decision that’s made today or tomorrow, so I’m going to take some time, sit down and get all the information that I need.”
Despite an excellent season of his own, junior running back Justin Jackson denied rumors he would be leaving school early, saying he intends to finish his degree. Jackson has never redshirted and has been at NU for just three years; Igwebuike and Walker each redshirted their first season and have been at NU four years.
The deadline to declare for the 2017 NFL draft is Jan. 16.
Senior receiver Austin Carr has been named to the All-America third team, the Associated Press announced Monday.
Carr, a former walk-on, easily had the best season of his career, leading the Big Ten with 84 receptions, 1,196 receiving yards and 12 receiving touchdowns. Carr’s bond with sophomore quarterback Clayton Thorson also boosted Northwestern to the fourth-best passing offense in the Big Ten.
Additionally, Carr finished as one of three semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given out annually to the best receiver in the country.
Carr was the only Wildcat named to any of the three AP All-America teams.
Syracuse receiver Amba Etta-Tawo shares third-team honors with Carr. The two receivers finished behind Oklahoma receiver Dede Westbrook and Western Michigan wideout Corey Davis (first team), as well as East Carolina pass-catcher Zay Jones and Washington receiver John Ross (second team).
For the list of the full AP All-America teams, click here.
After earning a bowl berth in their final game of the regular season, the Wildcats (6-6, 5-4 Big Ten) will face No. 23 Pittsburgh (8-4, 5-3 ACC) in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28, the bowl announced Sunday afternoon.
The Panthers finished fourth in the ACC Coastal division, but had the same record as North Carolina and Miami. Pittsburgh also has a number of impressive wins on its resume including victories over No. 2 Clemson and Big Ten Champion Penn State.
Northwestern will be participating in its second straight bowl and 13th all-time. The Cats fell to Tennessee in last year’s Outback Bowl, 45-6.
After possibly the best statistical season by a receiver in school history, senior wideout Austin Carr won the Big Ten’s Receiver of the Year award, the conference announced Wednesday.
The former walk-on put up massive numbers in his final year at Northwestern, showing an impressive rapport with sophomore quarterback Clayton Thorson that formed the backbone of the team’s offense. Carr led the Big Ten in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, finishing with a final line of 84 catches for 1196 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is also one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation’s top receiver.
From Sept. 10 against Illinois State to Oct. 22 against Indiana, Carr caught a touchdown in six straight games to set a program record. With the Wildcats’ bowl game still remaining, Carr currently is tied for NU’s single-season record in touchdowns and is second in school history in single-season receptions and yards.
Carr was joined on the media’s All-Big Ten first team by junior running back Justin Jackson. Jackson, who was also named to the coaches’ all-conference second team, led the Big Ten in rushing with 1300 yards and scored 12 touchdowns on the ground this season.
Thorson, sophomore guard Tommy Doles and junior superback Garrett Dickerson all received all-conference honorable-mention nods from the Cats’ offense as well. In total, ten NU players were named to All-Big Ten teams or were given honorable mentions.
Senior defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo was named to the First-Team All-Big Ten roster by the media, the conference announced.
Odenigbo led the conference with 10 sacks in 2016, pushing him to second in program history with 23.5 career sacks. His season was punctuated by a four-sack performance against Iowa in October, a Northwestern single-game record.
The D-Lineman also picked up a Second-Team nomination by the conference’s coaches.
Four other Wildcats also earned All-Big Ten honors: junior safety Godwin Igwebuike, junior linebacker Anthony Walker, junior kick returner Solomon Vault and sophomore cornerback Montre Hartage.
Igwebuike and Walker were named Second-Team by coaches and Third-Team by media. Igwebuike led Big Ten defensive backs with 101 tackles, while Walker averaged 9.4 tackles over his last eight games after sustaining an injury during training camp.
Vault was named to the Third-Team by the media. The junior, who already holds the program record for kick/punt return touchdowns, recorded his fifth career return TD against Michigan State in October.
Hartage earned an honorable mention as selected by media. The sophomore led NU with five interceptions and nine pass breakups.
Senior wide receiver Austin Carr left the Wildcats’ game against Minnesota with about five minutes left in the third quarter.
Carr was injured on the play and walked off the field gingerly after taking a hit from Minnesota defender Duke McGhee. It is unclear where Carr was injured, though McGhee was ejected from the game for targeting. The ejection was McGhee’s third this season for targeting.
Coming into the game, Carr led the Big Ten in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He was named one of ten semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, handed out to the nation’s top receiver, earlier this week.
Northwestern senior Austin Carr was named a semifinalist Monday for the 2016 Biletnikoff Award, given out annually to the best receiver in the nation.
Through ten games, Carr leads the Big Ten with 75 catches, 1,102 receiving yards and 12 receiving touchdowns. On Saturday against Purdue, Carr tied the Northwestern single-season record for touchdowns and needs 144 more receiving yards for the program record in yards.
The Biletnikoff Award is handed out every year by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation to the nation’s top receiver, which can include anyone who catches passes such as running backs and tight ends. However, all ten semifinalists for the 2016 honor are wide receivers.
Starting next year, the Big Ten is rolling out an annual Friday night slate of conference games to be broadcast on ESPN and Fox as part of the conference’s television agreement.
The Wildcats will appear twice on Friday next fall, the conference revealed . They will take on Maryland on Oct. 13 in College Park and will host Michigan State on Oct. 27 in another Friday night tilt.
NU is the only Big Ten school that will appear twice on Friday night. Nebraska and Illinois will play Sept. 29 in the other conference game on the 2017 Friday slate. Rutgers, Wisconsin and Purdue will each play a non-conference opponent on a Friday night.
On its website, the Big Ten described the Friday night contests as being part of a “broad initiative to provide more primetime exposure on national platforms” to Big Ten programs.
Northwestern walked away from its exhibition contest Friday night against Illinois-Springfield with a predictable double-digit victory. Freshman guard Isiah Brown led the way with 18 points as the Wildcats topped the Prairie Stars 89-52.
With nonexistent stakes and a decided outcome from the opening tip, the game offered plenty of opportunities for coach Chris Collins to experiment with different lineups.
Dererk Pardon injury scares are not fun
The sophomore center looked good when in, scoring 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting and adding four rebounds and three blocks. But he also left the game in the second half limping and holding his leg after heading into the tunnel earlier. According to Collins, Pardon had taken a knee to the thigh and was tightening but was ultimately fine.
He and freshman Barret Benson — who played surprisingly sparingly in the exhibition — constitute the team’s extremely thin center tandem and an injury to either would be costly.
Scottie Lindsey and Gavin Skelly are set to have big roles …
Last season, playing time for the then-sophomores was largely dictated by team need. When the offense needed energy or an athlete on the perimeter, it subbed accordingly. This year, it appears as though the Cats intend to lean on the third year duo in a broader sense.
Lindsey started the exhibition and finished with 13 points, going 2-of-3 from deep. Skelly saw plenty of action, playing both the 5 in NU’s small ball set and the 4 alongside another big. He ran the floor nicely and spaced the floor well, despite scoring only six points.
… but Brown might be the biggest X-Factor of them all
The freshman’s trademark scoring ability was on full display. Brown shot the ball well from deep and attacked the basket with confidence. Perhaps his best play of the day came in transition when Brown maneuvered through defenders and finished an acrobatic layup.
He’ll be leaned on as a shot-creator in the same vein as Tre Demps and appears to have a substantial role within the offense. If he can continue to score efficiently and in loads against higher-caliber opponents, Brown has the potential to be one of the offense’s most dynamic players.
Benson looked very raw in the limited action he saw. It’s expected — he is, of course, a freshman — but will need to develop better instincts given the role he is expected to assume.
Vic Law (11 points) struggled out of the gate but found a rhythm late. After missing a chain of three-pointers, he finished the game connecting on a pair, hitting a jumper in between.
Jordan Ash looks doomed to the bench yet again. Brown figures to run the offense when Bryant McIntosh sits.
As for McIntosh, the newly-named captain struggled from beyond the arc, going 0-of-3 and scoring 11. The exhibition offered little evidence that the point guard took the next step, but it’s far too early to worry.