Miller, Whillock among 4 Northwestern players opting out of shortened season

Defensive end Samdup Miller, safety Travis Whillock, quarterback Aidan Smith and tight end Jason Whittaker have opted out of Northwestern’s pandemic-shortened season, the school announced Friday.

With Miller and Whillock deciding not to play, the defense is down two returning starters.

Miller made eight starts as a junior last season before missing the final four games because of an injury. He had 29 tackles in 2019. Whillock was honorable mention All-Big Ten as a junior last year, with 78 tackles and two fumble recoveries.

Smith played in eight games and made six starts a year ago, passing for 760 yards and three touchdowns. Whittaker played in two games as a redshirt freshman.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald said Northwestern “completely” supports “the decision each young man made during the spring and summer as they evaluated their personal circumstances.”

Northwestern is trying to bounce back after going 3-9 overall and finishing last in the Big Ten West with a 1-8 mark in conference play. The Wildcats open at home against Maryland on Oct. 24.