Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald announced Monday afternoon that three returning starters will not be active for spring practice and will likely miss the annual spring game due to injuries.
Sophomore cornerback Nick Van Hoose, senior middle linebacker Damien Proby and junior right offensive tackle Jack Konopka are set to miss the spring session.
Van Hoose missed the final three games of the 2012 season with a shoulder injury, and is still rehabbing. Neither Proby nor Konopka’s injuries have been released at this point. Of course, Fitzgerald would rather have these guys on the field to get an idea of where his team is as a unit this spring, but it’s only a minor setback and these things happen.
None are expected to miss any fall practice, which is much more vital to the coaches than the spring days, anyway.
And even with the missed time, I don’t expect any of these guys to lose their starting jobs. All three are valuable at their respective positions, and should be assets to what could be a Northwestern run in the Big Ten Legends Division.
Van Hoose really came on towards the latter end of the season, showcasing his ability to make plays in the secondary at an early stage of his collegiate career. He finished with three interceptions and returned one for 39 yards against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the Gator Bowl.
Proby finished with 112 tackles in 2012 (74 solo) and is a huge reason the Wildcats were so effective against the running game (No. 21 in the nation).
With Patrick Ward’s departure, Konopka is expected to slide on over to left tackle and take care of Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian’s blind side. This is of course the most important position on the offensive line, and his return to the field is crucial.
Northwestern opens its spring practice this Wednesday, and will host its spring game on April 13.