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  • By David Fox, 1 week 1 day ago

    When Northwestern’s Trevor Siemian heard the question about one of his receivers, Miles Shuler, the Wildcats quarterback sighed in relief.

    “Awesome, a football question, great,” Siemian said.

    Northwestern’s spring practice will come to a close Saturday, but Wednesday was another clear indication what happens on the field for the Wildcats continues to be the secondary story in Evanston.

    Siemian on the Big Ten spring football teleconference reiterated his stance against unionization on Wednesday. Northwestern players filed for employee cards in January, but Siemian said he will vote against forming a union, a plan set in motion by Siemian's former teammate, Kain Colter.

    “We filed for employee cards; it doesn’t mean a union is right for this university or this school,” Siemian said. “I think that distinction needs to be made. Just because you’re an employee, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a union is the right avenue.”

    Siemian, who split time with Colter at quarterback the last two years, faulted himself for not gathering information as much as he could when he and a majority of his teammates signed employee cards in efforts to form a union. The regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled members of College Athletes Players' Association are employees and may unionize.

    "This all began with the best intentions."
    -Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian
    Siemian and Northwestern players will vote on unionization on April 25. Siemian said he will vote no.

    “This all began with the best intentions,” said Siemian, a fifth-year senior. “I’m treated far better than I deserve here. Introducing a third party or somebody else — our main goals when this began, there were issues with the NCAA we thought we could address and that was one of the ways we could do it.”

    Goals declared by CAPA include increased stipends, guaranteed sports-related medical coverage, improving graduation rates, allowing players to receive compensation for commercial sponsorships and more.

    Siemian said those goals were not addressed with Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald or athletic director Jim Phillips before the move to unionize.

    “To say ‘I don’t trust you enough to help us out to address these changes,’ I don’t think that’s the way to go,” Siemian said. “I can only speak for myself, but I feel pretty confident there are other guys on the team that feel pretty similar to me.”

    Fitzgerald opened his portion of the teleconference with a request to speak only about football topics. He said his comments Saturday — when he urged Northwestern players to vote against unionizing — stood on their own.

    “Out of respect to our players and out of respect to our program, what I said on Saturday is enough to be said,” Fitzgerald said.

    That same day, four Northwestern players including Siemian said they were against forming a union.

    Four is hardly the 50.1 percent majority vote from Northwestern players required to create a union. However, Fitzgerald, when prompted, gave a ringing endorsement for Siemian’s “leadership.”

    Of the four players on record against a union, all are upperclassmen and three are returning starters.

    “There’s no question that Trevor is our leader,” Fitzgerald said. “There’s a lot of great leadership now being demonstrated in our locker room. From what I’ve seen from when we got back in January, it’s that there’s no doubt that this is Trevor Siemian’s football team.”

    Siemian acknowledged the strange circumstances around Northwestern, including the vote at the end of April that could have a lasting impact in college athletics.

    “You’re not going to have everyone on the same page,” Siemian said. “You have different religions, different political views, but at the end of the day you’re teammates. Everyone’s had each other’s back and it’s just a mature locker room.”

  • By Steven Lassan, 2 months 3 weeks ago

    Northwestern running back Venric Mark was expected to be one of the Big Ten’s top running backs in 2013, but an ankle injury sidelined him for most of the season.

    But the Wildcats received some good news for 2014 this week, as Mark was granted a fifth-year of eligibility, and the Texas native will return to Northwestern next year.

    Mark rushed for 1,366 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught 20 passes for 104 yards in 2012.

    He was also a huge factor on special teams in 2012, averaging 18.7 yards per punt return and taking two back for scores.

    Considering Mark is listed at 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, he isn’t a player that can handle 300 carries. However, having the senior back in the lineup is a huge plus for Northwestern’s offense. Mark should be in the mix for All-Big Ten honors in 2014.

  • By Steven Lassan, 5 months 6 days ago

    Northwestern running back Venric Mark was expected to be one of the top playmakers in the Big Ten this season. Unfortunately for Mark, injuries have limited the standout running back to just three games and 31 carries. The senior has 97 rushing yards and five receptions for 48 yards.

    On Monday, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald announced Mark would miss the rest of the 2013 with a broken ankle. Mark suffered the injury against Wisconsin and was unable to recover in time to return this year.

    If there’s any bright spot for Northwestern, it appears the senior will be able to get a medical redshirt and return in 2014. The Wildcats have been one of the nation’s most disappointing teams in 2013 but having Mark return next season will help this team rebound in the Big Ten. 

  • By Steven Lassan, 5 months 2 weeks ago

    With Northwestern needing two more wins to get bowl eligible, the Nov. 16 game against Michigan will be huge for its postseason hopes.

    And the Wildcats will play that game with a new uniform combination, which helps to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

    Here’s a look at the uniform combination Northwestern will wear on Nov. 16 against the Wolverines:



  • By Steven Lassan, 5 months 2 weeks ago

    College football’s Week 10 slate wasn’t particularly deep with intriguing matchups, but there was plenty of intrigue.

    Nebraska-Northwestern provided the weekend’s best finish, as the Cornhuskers scored on a 49-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game.

    Quarterback Ron Kellogg barely got the pass into the endzone, but the ball was batted and caught by receiver Jordan Westerkamp for the touchdown.

    Considering how much pressure coach Bo Pelini has been under the last few weeks, this win will help quiet some of his critics – at least until next Saturday.

  • By Steven Lassan, 7 months 4 weeks ago

    With 15 starters back, hopes are high for Northwestern to contend for the Big Ten title. The Wildcats open the year on the road at California and plan to wear an alternate white helmet in that road contest.

    For the first time since 1980, a white helmet will be atop the Wildcats’ uniform – at least for the season opener. Maybe these will make an appearance or two later in the year? Overall, not a bad look for Northwestern.