Football: Injuries sideline Porter, Franks for 2021 season


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Cam Porter looks for an opening in the 2020 Big Ten Championship against Ohio State. Porter, the Cats’ leader in rushing yards as a freshman, will miss all of 2021 with a lower body injury.

John Riker, Senior Staffer


Just weeks before Northwestern’s season opener against Michigan State on Sept. 3, injuries dealt Northwestern’s offense major blows in the backfield and in the trenches.

Sophomore running back Cam Porter and redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Zachary Franks will miss the 2021 season with lower-body injuries, the team announced on Tuesday. Coach Pat Fitzgerald said that Porter’s injury was “non-contact, kind of just a freak deal.”

“You feel for (Porter) and Zach,” Fitzgerald said. coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “You don’t want to ever see anything happen and they’re both somewhat freak deals. That was obviously disappointing”

Porter emerged as the Cats’ leading rusher as a freshman in 2020, garnering 333 yards and five touchdowns on the ground across seven games.His season highlight — a 142-yard, two-touchdown performance against rival Illinois on Dec. 12, which earned him Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors and paved the way for NU’s 28-10 rout of the Fighting Illini.

Porter’s freshman campaign also made an impression on voters for preseason awards In July, Porter was named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List, the honor given to the nation’s best running back.

“You’re heartbroken anytime anybody gets hurt,”Fitzgerald said, “but he’ll come back stronger and I feel really good about our depth there.”

With Porter out, the Cats’ will look to redshirt sophomore Evan Hull, who has run for 495 yards and six touchdowns across two seasons. Graduate transfer Andrew Clair — who comes to Evanston after four seasons with Bowling Green — and freshman Anthony Tyus III will also contribute to the team’s ground attack.

“I don’t think Evan would ever want it to happen this way, but nonetheless he’s ready to go,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re really glad that Andrew’s here and same thing with Trey Tyus. You got I think three really talented guys that are going to help us.”

The offensive line depth will take a hit with the loss of Franks. The Baltimore, Md. native was a camp standout in 2020 and appeared in eight games.

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