Kafka, Phillips headline NU leadership council

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Northwestern's offseason leadership program worked wonders last fall, so it's no surprise that head coach Pat Fitzgerald will keep the same structure in place.

The team today announced its 10-man leadership council for 2009. The group establishes goals for the upcoming season, and each member captains a mini team that competes in various offseason competitions involving weight-lifting, community service, academics, etc. The winning team is excused from the preseason conditioning test, though last year Eric Peterman's team ran it anyway.

Here's this year's list:

  • Senior quarterback Mike Kafka

  • Senior cornerback Sherrick McManis

  • Senior safety Brendan Smith

  • Senior safety Brad Phillips

  • Junior linebacker Nate Williams

  • Junior defensive tackle Corbin Bryant

  • Sophomore quarterback Dan Persa

  • Sophomore wide receiver Jeravin Matthews

  • Sophomore safety Brian Peters

  • Redshirt freshman linebacker Quentin Williams

No major surprises on the list, though it's notable that Northwestern's top two quarterbacks were voted to the council. The group also includes three safeties and a pair of brothers (Nate and Quentin Williams).

"Our entire offseason is devoted to developing our team in all aspects of their life -- athletically, academically and socially," Fitzgerald said. "We do this through empowering our players to take complete ownership of the team. During the offseason, all aspects of our program are a competition, which helps our players excel in every phase of their life. In the end, our leadership council establishes the goals for the upcoming season."