Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Football: Captain and student of the game: Cam Porter embraces three-down role

Senior+running+back+Cam+Porter+fights+for+yards+against+No.+6+Penn+State+last+Saturday.+Porter+has+scored+eight+touchdowns+in+his+collegiate+career.
Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal
Senior running back Cam Porter fights for yards against No. 6 Penn State last Saturday. Porter has scored eight touchdowns in his collegiate career.

In his first season atop the depth chart since 2020, senior running back Cam Porter is a man on a mission.

Following a five-touchdown freshman season, he worked his way back from a season-ending ACL injury that ended his sophomore campaign before it began. Still, he fought to return for the season opener against Nebraska during his junior year.

After passing one of the toughest tests in resilience, Porter threw down the gauntlet as he arrived back in Evanston for his senior season, seeking to transcend his abilities and improve on the field.

Before he walks out of Northwestern’s practice facility, Porter challenges himself to snag 50 catches every day, sharpening his hands and route running savvy.

Like a prototypical Power 5 halfback, Porter runs tough between the tackles, looking to impose his will on any given down. With his 5-foot-10, 220-pound frame, the Cincinnati, Ohio native has made a name for himself around the conference since he burst onto the scene as a true freshman.

But, he’s neither satisfied with his past accolades, nor focused on stuffing the statsheet — the senior captain consistently strives to raise the bar for both himself and his teammates.

“I don’t like to put numbers on my game,” Porter said. “I want to make sure I’m having complete games, making the most out of every carry. I’m doing whatever I can do to make sure we win. ”

Last season, Porter operated out of a crowded position group, spearheaded by Indianapolis Colts’ 5th round pick Evan Hull. Bearing the brunt of the backfield’s ball carrying duties, Hull tallied 276 touches and 1,459 scrimmage yards and led the ‘Cats in both rushing and receiving yards.

Now, the onus has shifted to Porter and the rest of the Wildcats’ running back room to pick up much of the pass-catching slack, especially in NU’s system packed with spread alignments. While Porter snagged just seven grabs last season, he entered the preseason ready to push the envelope of his playstyle.

“I wanted to establish myself as a three-down back,” Porter said. “If (the quarterback) needs an outlet, I’ll be there and I can checkdown — do whatever I have to do.”

When interim head coach David Braun first took the podium at Big Ten Football Media Days in late July, he made a point to shoutout his lead tailback.

From that moment onward, to his first win in Evanston and now through five games, Braun’s faith in Porter hasn’t wavered. Braun said Porter embodies what a Big Ten running back should look like, emphasizing the importance of establishing the running game.

However, the running back room more than met its match last Saturday, as No. 6 Penn State’s stingy front seven dominated the trenches and sealed off gaps nearly every snap. On a day when the offense struggled to generate any semblance of momentum, yards were certainly at a premium.

Porter managed to gain just 18 yards on seven carries, while ripping off a 17-yard reception to bring his air yardage to 19. But, the veteran ball carrier said there are plenty of lessons to learn from NU’s last effort, such as maintaining a quick tempo and rhythm on offense.

“A lot of respect for Penn State’s defense — awesome front and awesome back end,” Porter said. “Sometimes you gotta speed things up, reaction has to be a little bit quicker, your reads have to be a little bit quicker and (there’s) some good and some bad, but we learned from it and now we’re gonna carry it on for the rest of the season.”

As Porter and the ‘Cats set their sights on Saturday’s Homecoming game against Howard, Braun said nobody in their locker room is approaching the matchup lightly.

For Porter, the game plan boils down to trusting his teammates and play callers, regardless of whether they attack through the air or on the ground. Though he’s one of NU’s more veteran players, Porter continues to develop as a student of the game.

“I’m learning throughout the season, and I’m getting better in all aspects of my game, whether that’s pass protection, catching the ball, making defenders miss (or) running through tackles,” Porter said. “That’s my focus: watching film and constantly getting better.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @jakeepste1n

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