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Who's That Wildcat: LB Mac Uihlein

One of the highest-rated prospects in program history could make noise early in his career in Evanston.

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 215 pounds

Hometown: Lake Forest, Ill.

High School: Lake Forest

Other Offers: Iowa, Louisville, Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue, Virginia, Wisconsin

Evaluation:

The consensus four-star prospect was the first Illinois top recruit to choose Northwestern under Pat Fitzgerald and was one of the highest-rated overall prospects in the history of the program. He has not seen the field for a game since 2019, as COVID-19 canceled his fall 2020 season. He chose to forgo the option to play a spring 2021 season and enrolled early in Evanston.

Uihlein has incredibly quick feet and is very shifty, two traits that were honed in high school when he also played running back. Uihlein started at linebacker beginning his sophomore year and averaged nearly nine tackles per game over two seasons according to MaxPreps. He has the ability to break through the offensive line with an intense ferocity and get straight to the quarterback, something that Northwestern has struggled with in recent years.

Playing Time Projection:

New defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil will install his defense this fall, although he has said it will not be an overhaul by any means given Northwestern’s recent success on that side of the ball. One of the starting linebacker spots will be filled by senior Chris Bergin. After the departure of Paddy Fisher and Blake Gallagher, who lead the team with 86 and 84 total tackles respectively, the other starting spots are up for the taking.

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The Wildcats have lost six of their last seven conference games, tumbling to ninth in the standings and trailing Purdue by one game for the final Big Ten Tournament berth.

The linebackers still on the team had a combined 21 tackles last season, and no player had more than seven. In total, just 47% of the tackling production from 2020 is returning, and a massive chunk of that is Chris Bergin’s 78 total tackles. Expect some hiccups early.

That being said, there are plenty of good options at the position, including Uihlein, which is not surprising given Pat Fitzgerald’s defensive expertise and history as one of the school’s most impactful linebackers ever. Blake Gallagher’s younger brother Bryce and redshirt junior Khalid Jones are reportedly fighting for a middle linebacker spot and Peter McIntyre is leading the charge to be the weakside linebacker according to Matt Fortuna of The Athletic.

While Uihlein likely will not start right away, it would not be shocking to see him contribute at a high level early in his Northwestern career. If Fitzgerald wants to continue his recruiting success on the North Shore of Chicago, this is an excellent opportunity to showcase the homegrown product.

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