Quinn Evans may be the one to ease Northwestern's worries about the team's secondary defense -- even if it is about three months until the Wildcats open the season at Syracuse Sept. 1.
Evans, a 2012 Stanford graduate, transferred to NU under the NCAA's graduate transfer rule and will have one year of eligibility remaining, the school announced June 11. Evans will be pursing a master's degree in the university's School of Continuing Studies.
The defensive back redshirted as a freshman at Stanford, and then in two years played in 20 games and recorded 13 tackles. But Evans hit some hard luck last season, sitting out the entire 2011 campaign with an injury.
Adding Evans under the graduate transfer rule, which has caused some controversy since its inception a couple seasons ago, won't make up for losing three starters in the secondary (Brian Peters, Jordan Mabin and Jeravin Matthews) but Evans will provide some veteran leadership. The only returning starter in the Wildcats' secondary is safety Ibraheim Campbell.
But there isn't any new information on the Wildcats' other transfer, wide receiver and Proviso West product Kyle Prater. Prater transferred from USC Jan. 28 and still has not heard from the NCAA as to whether or not his waiver has gone through. If it doesn't, Prater has to sit out this season. Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald -- and Prater himself -- have said that Prater is transferring to be closer to his family in Maywood. That reason alone may be enough to push the NCAA into allowing Prater to play right away.
Evans, though, doesn't have to sit out a year because he already graduated from Standford and -- under the graduate transfer rule -- is pursuing a graduate degree at his new institution.
MORE NEW FACES
A few days after Fitzgerald announced the Evans transfer, NU also announced nine walk-ons to the 2012 roster.
For the Wildcats' program, walk-on have had a interesting tradition. Receiver Zeke Markshausen is perhaps the most successful of recent walk-ons, when he caught 91 passes in 2009. The mark is the second-best single-season total for catches in school history.
And running back Jacob Schmidt beat out Mike Trumpy for the starting spot in the backfield at the beginning of the 2011 season.
The nine walk-ons are: running back/safety Austin Carr; quarterback/punter Zak Kucera; quarterback/punter/kicker Matt Micucci of Stevenson H.S.; receiver/defensive back Jack Mitchell; linebacker/superback Michael Odom of Benet; receiver/defensive back Sean Oliver; running back/defensive back Mike Panico of Carmel; quarterback Christian Salem; and defensive back/receiver Troy Sheppard of Providence.
IT'S ALL IN THE TIMING
NU has also announced kickoff times for two non-conference games. The season opener Sept. 1 at Syracuse is scheduled for an 11 a.m. start on ESPN2. The Wildcats' Sept. 15 game at Ryan Field against Boston College will begin at 2:30 and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
Earlier in the spring, the Wildcats announced they will host Vanderbilt in their home opener Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.