The blows keep coming for Northwestern.
Pat Fitzgerald announced Monday that defensive tackle Sean McEvilly will be lost for the season due to a foot injury similar to the one he suffered last year.
Last season, McEvilly's foot injury limited to just five games and three starts. Now another foot injury is knocking him out for what was supposed to be his senior year. Fitzgerald said that Northwestern will apply for a medical redshirt so McEvilly can play next season.
McEvilly was expected to be a big contributor and starter along the defensive line last year and this year after a solid sophomore year that saw him start 10 games and make 20 tackles, including one sack.
The loss of McEvilly puts more pressure on defensive tackles C.J. Robbins (redshirt junior) and Greg Kuhar (sophomore), who were both listed as starters on the team's depth chart for Saturday's season-opener against Cal.
Though players available to the media Monday lamented the loss of McEvilly, they have high hopes for the guys stepping into that vacated role.
"Obviously losing Sean was a pretty big blow with his leadership and experience," center Brandon Vitabile said. "But C.J.'s picked it up a ton in the offseason, Greg the same way, and we've got Chance (Carter) coming back. Those guys, really, from what we saw all summer, they were busting their butts, putting in a lot of work. And even going against them every day the past three weeks has been very challenging. They've come a long way."
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"First and foremost, it gives the guys behind (McEvilly) an opportunity to step up and make names for themselves," linebacker Collin Ellis said. "Sean made a name for himself when he beat out Will Hampton and had a phenomenal season, and before that season no one really knew about him. We knew about him, but no one else knew about him. And that's how I look at this season. We know about the guys who are stepping into that role, and we know what they can do. Now it's just their turn to show you what they can do."
McEvilly's injury is the latest in a series of bad news for the Cats, who already this month have dealt with the transfer of star running back Venric Mark and the season-ending injury of top wideout Christian Jones.