Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 28, 2015

After making five bowls in a row, Northwestern has missed the postseason each of the last two seasons-going 5-7 each year. Pat Fitzgerald hopes to break the funk as he enters his 10th season in Evanston.

[ MORE: NU team homepage | 2014 NU stats | 2014 NU schedule ]

Fitzgerald will welcome back some good players, including running back Justin Jackson, super back Dan Vitale, cornerbacks Matthew Harris and Nick Van Hoose, safety Traveon Henry and defensive end Dean Lowry.

NU also has some holes to fill. Wideout Tony Jones and linebackers Jimmy Hall and Collin Ellis, who was lost halfway through 2014 because of concussions, are gone.

[ MORE: View all of Tom Dienhart's players to replace in 2015 posts ]

Here are the Top Five Northwestern players to replace.

LB Chi Chi Ariguzo. He led Northwestern with 104 stops as a senior, tying for 10th in the Big Ten during the regular season with 8.7 tackles per game. A three-time honorable-mention All-Big Ten selection, Ariguzo had 39 career starts and finished in a tie for 10th all-time at Northwestern with 333 career tackles (24.5 TFL's).

S Ibraheim Campbell. A co-captain with 45 career starts, he earned second-team All-Big Ten recognition from the coaches and honorable mention from the media. Campbell finished ranked tied for third in program history with 11 career interceptions and tied for fifth with 24 pass breakups, finishing with 316 career tackles.

WR Kyle Prater. He led Northwestern with 51 catches and 535 yards in 2014. Prater had just 19 catches combined the previous two seasons, as the USC transfer was able to finish his career with a bang.

QB Trevor Siemian. Despite starting only 14 career games, the co-captain finished his career ranked fourth all-time at NU in career passing yardage (5,931), fourth in completions (550), sixth in total offense (5,908) and seventh in passing TDs (27).

C Brandon Vitabile. He was a two-year captain who started all 50 games of his Northwestern career and was named a consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten honoree for the second straight year. Vitabile helped freshman back Justin Jackson rush for 1,187 yards in 2014.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.