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Ryan Field. (Google Maps)

Four Northwestern University football players have decided not to take part in this year’s Big Ten season, which begins Oct. 24.

In a news release, the University said that senior defensive lineman Samdup Miller, senior quarterback Aidan Smith, senior safety Travis Whillock and sophomore tight end Jason Whittaker have opted out.

It is not known if concern over COVID-19 was the reason for the opt-out, as that information was not provided. Head Football Coach Pat Fitzgerald said, “We completely support the decision each young man made … as they evaluated their personal circumstances.”

NU says the full range of scholarship, academic, and sports medicine support will still be available to the four athletes.

Earlier this summer, the football scouting service Ourlads.com had listed both Miller and Whillock as projected starters.

NU still has more than 100 players on the roster. Redshirt senior linebacker Paddy Fisher was named today as one of only ten players in the conference to receive Big Ten preseason honors.

The Wildcats open at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, against Maryland at Ryan Field. All Big Ten games this season will be closed to the general public and no tickets will be sold.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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