Feb. 15, 2011
2011 Northwestern Spring Prospectus
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Following a trend that is spreading to other Midwest college football programs, Northwestern will begin its 2011 spring practice in early March, just more than two months removed from its New Year's Day bowl appearance. The Wildcats, who are coming off a third straight bowl appearance, will hold their first spring practice three weeks earlier than their previous start date -- the first Monday of the spring quarter.
Northwestern will conduct 15 spring practices, which includes the annual Spring Exhibition at noon on Saturday, April 16, but four of those will be held the week of March 7. Northwestern will then take a two-week recess for winter quarter final exams and spring break week before returning to spring practice on Monday, March 28.
"It really came down to getting back on the practice field earlier and not having as much of a break between the end of the bowl season and the start of spring ball," said NU Head Football Coach Pat Fitzgerald. "We're hoping this becomes a new tradition for us. We'll see how it plays out, but I believe there are some benefits for our players with this format. It should also help us with recruiting, getting some of our coaches out one week earlier.
"Our offseason strength and conditioning program has been going great and we're encouraged with the progress of our team thus far this winter."
The Wildcats' weekday practices are once again being held in the morning, with all sessions starting at 8:15 a.m. Saturday practices, other than the Spring Exhibition, begin at 9:30 a.m.
Northwestern is returning 18 starters (9 offense, 7 defense, 2 special teams) in 2011. The Wildcats' biggest offseason questions come at running back, where the Wildcats' are seeking their first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006; at linebacker, where they must replace a pair of starters; in the secondary, where they must replace a cornerback and solidify the safety positions; and at place-kicker.
Northwestern returns a number of key performers on both sides of the ball, especially on offense. Nine starters return, led by first-team All-Big Ten quarterback Dan Persa and first-team All-Big Ten wide receiver Jeremy Ebert. Defensive end Vince Browne, safety Brian Peters and cornerback Jordan Mabin headline the seven returning starters on defense.
You can follow the Wildcats during the spring on NUsports.com with daily updates (video included) on practice, as well as a blog from a Wildcat player.
NOTE: Spring practices, other than the Spring Exhibition, are CLOSED to the general public. For high school coaches, scouts, friends of the program, etc., wishing to attend practice, please contact Carolyn Fleming (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) in Northwestern's football office (847-467-3708) for a practice credential. All media inquiries should be directed to NU's athletic communications office.
2011 Spring Practice Schedule (SCHEDULE UPDATED MARCH 5)