Ten days before Northern Illinois opens the 2011 football season at Huskie Stadium versus Army, Northern Illinois Head Coach Dave Doeren released Tuesday the first depth chart of the season for the Huskies.
Every player listed on the starting units on offense and defense lettered for the Huskies a year ago with the exception of redshirt freshman fullback Luke Eakes,who is listed as the starter along with senior Cameron Bell.
NIU returns eight starters on offense, including the entire offensive line, who have totaled 105 starts for the Huskies over the past three seasons, and quarterback Chandler Harnish – a four-year starter with 31 career starts under center. The Northern Illinois offense broke eight school single game records a year ago and ranked in the nation’s Top 20 in rushing offense, scoring offense, total offense and passing efficiency behind Harnish’s record-setting season as he broke the NIU single season total offense mark with 3,366 yards on 429 plays.
Defensively, Northern Illinois returns three players with at least one year as a starter in defensive end Sean Progar, a 2010 All Mid-American Conference choice, safety Tommy Davis and middle linebacker Pat Schiller.
Redshirt freshman Jamaal Bass is the lone non-letterwinner among the defensive starting 11, however the two-deep includes several new names. Transfer Courtney Stephen (safety), redshirt freshmen and Geneva products Michael Santacaterina (linebacker) and Frank Boenzi (nose guard), Sycamore product Marckie Hayes (cornerback), true freshman Paris Logan (cornerback) and junior college newcomer Jhony Faustin (cornerback) are among the “new” names on the defensive depth chart.
On the specialists unit, Davis returns as the Huskies’ return man after earning MAC honors a year ago. Sophomore Mathew Sims is listed atop the placekickers’ chart while true freshman Tyler Wedel is the No. 1 kickoff man. Redshirt junior Ryan Neir steps in as the NIU punter and holder.
Doeren put his team through a two-hour workout on Tuesday at Huskie Stadium with much of the session focused on Army preparation. The Huskies will also practice Wednesday and Thursday afternoon this week at Huskie Stadium before beginning their regular game week routine on Sunday.