March 9, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern head football coach Pat Fitzgerald announced his team's 2009 Leadership Council, a group of 10 student-athletes from all class levels who will help lead the Wildcats' offseason development.
The 10 student-athletes, who are elected to the council by their teammates, consist of four players from the senior class and two each from the freshman, sophomore and junior classes. The four senior representatives are quarterback Mike Kafka (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita), cornerback Sherrick McManis (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods), safety Brendan Smith (Andover, Mass./New Hampton Prep) and safety Brad Phillips (Export, Pa./Franklin Regional). The rest of the Leadership Council includes linebacker Nate Williams (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pittsburgh Central Catholic), defensive tackle Corbin Bryant (Chicago, Ill./Morgan Park), quarterback Dan Persa (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty), safety Brian Peters (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington Central), wide receiver Jeravin Matthews (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan) and linebacker Quentin Williams (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pittsburgh Central Catholic).
Fitzgerald instituted the Leadership Council concept last year in order to promote offseason growth and add competition to all aspects of the Wildcat football program.
"Our program prides itself on having the best development staff in the country," says Fitzgerald. "Our entire offseason is devoted to developing our team in all aspects of their life -- athletically, academically and socially. We do this through empowering our players to take complete ownership of the team. During the offseason, all aspects of our program are a competition, which helps our players excel in every phase of their life. In the end, our Leadership Council establishes the goals for the upcoming season.
"Although these 10 student-athletes are the players that they elected to lead them, we have many outstanding leaders within our program."
Each Leadership Council captain drafts players for his team and then attaches a name to his squad. The team name must be related in some form or fashion with Northwestern, Wildcats, victory, winning, etc. Each team has a mixture of offensive and defensive players, as well as older and younger, to help earn points starting with the offseason winter workouts and ending with the start of preseason camp. Teams go through daily competitions in the weight room, winter conditioning and spring football practice as well as in academics and NU's 'Cats in the Community program.
Last year, Eric Peterman's team, "Victorious Secret," captured the offseason competition. The winning team is then excused from Northwestern's annual summer conditioning test.
Northwestern is holding its annual Pro Timing Day this Thursday, March 12. The event is closed to the public.
Spring practice begins Monday, March 30. The Wildcats' entire spring practice schedule will be posted on NUsports.com in the near future.