Tight end Luke Eakes makes John Mackey Award watch list

Huskie senior one of 40 players named on preseason roster

Luke Eakes

Luke Eakes

Northern Illinois University senior tight end Luke Eakes is one of 40 players on the 2014 John Mackey Award Preseason Watch List distributed Tuesday by the John Mackey Award.

The John Mackey Award is given annually to the most outstanding collegiate tight end and is chosen through a vote of the John Mackey Award Selection Committee.

Eakes is one of three Mid-American Conference players named to this year’s Mackey Award Preseason Watch List.

A 6-3, 260-pound senior from St. Marys, Kansas, Eakes has been a key component of the Huskies’ rushing and passing attacks while starting at tight end for two of the best offensive seasons in NIU history. In 42 games over the past three seasons, he has caught 26 passes for 430 yards and three touchdowns to average 10.2 yards per catch.

He caught a career-high 12 passes in 2013 and had touchdown catches in back-to-back games at Idaho and versus Eastern Illinois. In 2012, the athletic Eakes was used as a deep threat as six of his catches covered 30 yards or more.

As a blocker, he helped lead the way for back-to-back historic rushing seasons by NIU Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch, who set NCAA records for rushing yards by a quarterback in 2012 and 2013. The Huskies broke the school record for single season rushing yards in 2013 behind Lynch and tailback Cameron Stingily, who accumulated the second-highest rushing total by two players in NCAA history.

John Mackey Award badgeIn 2014, Eakes will help lead an offense that returns nine starters, including four offensive linemen and Stingily in addition to the tight end and receiver Tommylee Lewis, who on Monday was named to the Paul Hornung Award watch list as one of the country’s most versatile returning players.

Lewis and the Huskies open the 2014 season at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, at Huskie Stadium when NIU takes on Presbyterian. The Huskies will look to extend their nation-leading 26-game winning streak at the facility, where NIU has not lost since 2009. Huskie players report for preseason camp Friday, Aug. 1.

For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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