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Cornerback Keith Watkins II to miss 2016 season with knee injury

Cornerback Keith Watkins II to miss 2016 season with knee injury
(Daily file photo by Jacob Swan)

In a major blow to Northwestern’s secondary, junior cornerback Keith Watkins II will miss the 2016 season with a knee injury, the program announced Tuesday.

As the No. 3 cornerback on the roster last year, Watkins II was a valuable fill-in player in the secondary. He tied for ninth on the team with 41 tackles and tied for third with six passes broken up.

“I’m really disappointed for him, he’s worked so hard, but we’ve got great depth at that position (and I’m) excited about the guys that now get that opportunity from somebody else’s tough situation,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said via a video on the team’s Twitter account.

Watkins II said via the video that he twisted his left knee in practice last week but played through it until it swelled up after practice. He will have surgery next week.

He had nine tackles, including eight solo tackles, in a breakout performance against Iowa before following it up with eight tackles the following week against Nebraska. With cornerback Nick VanHoose injured for the Outback Bowl against Tennessee, Watkins II recorded a career-high three pass break-ups.

The injury will leave NU more shorthanded than expected at cornerback after VanHoose’s graduation and junior Marcus McShepard’s spring position transfer to wide receiver. Fitzgerald named sophomore Montre Hartage, redshirt freshman Trae Williams and redshirt freshman Alonzo Mayo as possible replacements for the cornerback spot opposite returning starter senior Matthew Harris.

Ex-Wildcat QB Trevor Siemian named Denver Broncos’ “co-starter”

Ex-Wildcat QB Trevor Siemian named Denver Broncos’ “co-starter”
(Daily file photo by Nathan Richards)

A former Northwestern quarterback has (sort of) locked down an NFL starting job heading into the preseason.

Ex-Wildcat Trevor Siemian, who played QB for NU from 2010-2014, has been named “co-starter” for the Denver Broncos, according to the team’s first depth chart. Siemian shares the starting job with former New York Jets quarterback and 2009 No. 6 overall draft pick Mark Sanchez.

In his Cats career, Siemian threw for 5,931 yards, fourth-most in NU history, in addition to 27 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. He was drafted in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Broncos and spent almost all of his rookie season on the bench, though he did play one snap in 2015 — a kneel-down to close out the first half in Denver’s Dec. 20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers the Super Bowl in February and, following the retirement of Peyton Manning and departure of Brock Osweiler in free agency, have been searching for a quarterback. Denver traded for Sanchez in March and drafted ex-Memphis QB Paxton Lynch in the first round of April’s draft (26th overall) but so far no one has run away with the job.

Sanchez started his NFL career with the Jets, tagging along at QB as coach Rex Ryan’s defense led them to two straight AFC Conference Championship appearances. He underwent shoulder surgery during the 2013 season and, after being released following that season, spent the last two years as the Philadelphia Eagles’ backup.

At Memphis, Lynch passed for 8,865 yards over three seasons, tossing 59 touchdowns against 23 interceptions. In 2015, his 28:4 TD:INT ratio helped boost his draft stock and was the third quarterback taken, following Cal’s Jared Goff by the Los Angeles Rams and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz by the Eagles.

Denver begins its preseason schedule on Thursday against the Chicago Bears at 7 p.m.

Morning Roundup: May 6, 2016

Morning Roundup: May 6, 2016
(Keshia Johnson/The Daily Northwestern)

Northwestern’s varsity seasons are winding down, but our coverage of the teams isn’t. Here’s what you need to know for Friday…

  • Claire Hansen reviews a dominant win for lacrosse, which guaranteed the Wildcats eligibility for the NCAA Tournament.
  • Ben Pope previews a weekend series for baseball against Purdue, pitting the two worst teams in the Big Ten against each other.
  • Marty Johnson writes about the softball team’s last series of the season — Northwestern needs to win all three games to finish the regular season at .500.

And here’s Friday’s back page:

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Northwestern to play Ohio State in prime time

Northwestern to play Ohio State in prime time
(Daily file photo by Susan Du)

Northwestern’s game at Ohio State on October 29 will be played at 5:30 p.m. eastern time and will be broadcast nationally on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, the Big Ten and ESPN announced Monday.

The Wildcats and Buckeyes last met on October 5, 2013 in Evanston, when ESPN’s College GameDay show visited campus for the first time since 1995. NU narrowly lost that game, 40-30, and went on to lose another six straight and finish the season 5-7.

Men’s tennis advances to semifinals of Big Ten Tournament

Men’s tennis advances to semifinals of Big Ten Tournament
(Daily file photo by Leeks Lim)

By Benjy Apelbaum

Northwestern wasted no time during their dominating win in the Big Ten Tournament over Purdue. 

The No. 13 Wildcats earned a first-round bye after earning the No. 2 seed, defeating the Boilermakers 4-1. They improved over their 4-2 win against Purdue just over a month ago. 

The match began similarly to the previous contest with NU taking the doubles point, this time by virtue of a 7-5 win at No. 1 doubles and a 6-4 win at No. 2 doubles. 

Juniors Sam Shropshire and Strong Kirchheimer jumped out to easy wins in singles play, winning their matches by scores of 6-1, 6-2, and 6-1, 6-0, respectively. These matches put the Cats ahead 3-0 overall before senior Fedor Baev lost 5-7, 3-6. 

Alp Horoz then closed out the match with a 6-4, 6-3 win to send NU to the semifinals. All three singles winners Friday also won their matches the last time the Cats faced the Boilermakers. 

NU now will face off against the winner of No. 17 Illinois and Penn State on Saturday. The Cats defeated both teams in their most recent matchups, but were swept by the fighting Illini earlier in the season. 

Morning Roundup: April 29, 2016

by Max Gelman 0 Comments
Morning Roundup: April 29, 2016
(Daily file photo by Daniel Tian)

The Northwestern men’s and women’s tennis teams kick off their Big Ten Tournament matches today after they each received a bye in the first round. Purdue will face the men’s team at 2 p.m. today, while the women’s team takes on Michigan State at 1 p.m. Read the tournament previews from earlier this week here: Men’s Tennis, Women’s Tennis

In other Northwestern sports news…

  • Three Wildcats from the men’s tennis team were named first-team All-Big Ten.
  • Dan Waldman discusses lacrosse trying to remain NCAA Tournament eligible.
  • Cole Paxton writes about the important of Kristen Wood returning to the circle for Northwestern softball.
  • The Baseball team is traveling to Indiana and the weather has already forced a rescheduling.
  • Last night was the first round of the NFL Draft, and the later rounds will take place today and tomorrow. Bobby Pillote and Max Schuman pondered the chances of Northwestern’s standouts earlier this week.
  • ICYMI, Ben Pope kicked off The Daily’s new running senior profile series ‘Curtain Call‘ with a profile on men’s soccer star Joey Calistri.

And here’s a look at Friday’s back page:

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Softball coach Kate Drohan wins 500th game at Northwestern

Softball coach Kate Drohan wins 500th game at Northwestern
(Daily file photo)

By Cole Paxton

Kate Drohan won her 500th game at the helm of the Wildcats in Wednesday’s 9-1 win over crosstown rival Loyola.

Drohan is in her 15th season leading Northwestern. She served as an assistant for four seasons before taking over the head coaching position ahead of the 2002 season. 

Drohan has led the Cats to 10 NCAA Tournament appearances. NU has won two Big Ten championships and advanced to a pair of Women’s College World Series under her direction. 

Drohan ranks second on the all-time wins list, trailing long-time coach Sharon Drysdale. In 23 years leading the Cats, Drysdale won 640 games. 

The Cats return to action with a three-game weekend series at Wisconsin. 

Morning Roundup: April 26, 2016

by Max Gelman 0 Comments

Not much news to report with every team off Monday, but we continued with our recaps from over the weekend. What you need to know…

And here is Tuesday’s back page:

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Morning Roundup: April 25, 2016

by Max Gelman 0 Comments
Morning Roundup: April 25, 2016
(Source: NU Athletics)

This past weekend was one of extreme highs and lows for Northwestern. The women’s golf team won its second-straight Big Ten Championship, men’s tennis set a new program record with 24 wins and softball earned a much-needed sweep. On the flipside, the lacrosse team dropped an important match to Penn State, putting a potential NCAA Tournament berth at risk, and baseball continued its Big Ten woes at home. What you need to know…

  • Joe Wilkinson recaps what might be Northwestern’s next dynasty in the women’s golf team.
  • Garrett Jochnau discusses a mixed bag of emotions for men’s tennis despite setting a new program record.
  • Claire Hansen writes about the lacrosse team’s danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003.
  • Mike Marut illustrates an emotional weekend for women’s tennis.
  • Max Schuman explores the upcoming men’s basketball season, specifically regarding NU’s non-conference schedule.
  • Bites from the weekend: Letourneau joins “Roof Club”, Football players sing national anthem.

Here’s a look at Monday’s front page, featuring the women’s golf team, and back page:

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Men’s tennis sets new program record with 24 wins

The match came down to the wire, but Northwestern defeated Penn State 4-2 this afternoon for its 24th win of the season, setting a new program record. Junior Strong Kirchheimer clinched in the third set of his match at No. 3 singles, defeating Matt Barry 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. The Wildcats finish the regular season at 24-3 with a Big Ten record of 10-1.

Going into next week’s Big Ten Tournament, the Wildcats will have the No. 2 seed.