Northern Illinois defensive end Jake Coffman, the United States Marine Corps veteran who showed his commitment to his Huskie teammates by electing to return to the team for his senior year at age 26, has been named a candidate for the 2010 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for football.
Coffman is one of just 30 candidates for the award, which honors seniors who have achieved in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition.
Coffman fills the bill on all four counts. A 3.0 student-athlete who earned his bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois last spring, Coffman originally announced his retirement last January after leading NIU in quarterback sacks and tackles for loss last season.
As a junior he was named an All Mid-American Conference player and helped lead the Huskies to their second straight bowl berth. In addition to starting at defensive end, he moved over to defensive tackle for several games when injuries hit the line. The Columbus Touchdown Club honored Coffman as its 2009 Male Athlete of the Year at the conclusion of the season.
After sitting out spring drills, but hearing the sounds of practice from his nearby apartment, Coffman knocked on head coach Jerry Kill’s door and asked if he could return to “finish what he started” with the 2010 team. It was an offer Kill and assistant coach Jeff Phelps quickly accepted.
“Jake Coffman has served our country with two tours in Iraq, he has earned his degree from Northern Illinois University and he has played college football at a high level,” Kill said. “He represents everything a college football player and a young man should represent. If I had a son, I would want him carved out just like Jake Coffman, and I can’t give anyone a higher compliment than that.”
Coffman is the only player from a Mid-American Conference school and the only player from an Illinois university, to be named a candidate for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award; the name is an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®. Ten finalists for the award will be named midway through the regular season and, after nationwide voting by media, coaches and fans, Lowe’s will announce the winner at the end of the year.
Northern Illinois opens its five-game home schedule Saturday, Sept. 11, against North Dakota at Huskie Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.