Building on the momentum of Northern Illinois University’s second-straight Mid-American Conference championship and its historic berth in the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl, NIU first-year head football coach Rod Carey added 24 future Huskies to his first recruiting class Wednesday.
“The success we had last season made a big impact on the quality of recruits we signed,” Carey said.
“A lot of the class was completed before the Orange Bowl and we felt great about those kids no matter what. When you look at our later commitments, the talent level that they have, is right on par with what we’ve been getting. We feel good about that.”
NIU’s signing day roster consists of 12 offensive players, 10 on the defensive side of the ball, one athlete and one specialist, and hail from eight different states.
NIU stayed close to home, signing 10 players from the state of Illinois and seven from Wisconsin. The Huskies also branched out, picking up two recruits from Ohio and one each from Indiana, Florida, Michigan, Georgia and Alabama.
“It starts with Illinois and it’s never going to stray far from home,” Carey said of his recruiting philosophy. “This is our home state, this is where we get our guys and this is always where we’re going to get our guys. Wisconsin, with that state being so close to us, the ties we have there and the success we’ve enjoyed there historically, is always going to be a key place for us to recruit.
“Reaching out to places like Indiana, Detroit, Alabama, and Florida, where we’ve had a lot of success in recent years, not only with Coach Doeren but with Coach Kill, it is important to keep those ties going. When you branch far out, it’s more about the connections and ties you have there. When you’re closer to home, it’s about a blanket, making sure everyone knows about us.”
While last year’s signing class was heavy on offensive and defensive linemen, this year’s class is loaded with skill position players. On the offensive side of the ball, Northern Illinois added three wide receivers, three tight ends, two running backs and a quarterback. Two offensive linemen round out the signees on offense.
The Huskie coaching staff shored up a position hit hard by graduation – defensive backs – by signing six DBs. Northern Illinois also added three linebackers and a defensive lineman. One signee, Sean Folliard (Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge), a linebacker, is already enrolled at NIU and will participate in spring drills.
“Overall, when you look at this class, it’s dominated by skill, which it should be,” Carey said. “The skill has power and speed and that’s what I love about it. Every guy that’s fast is powerful and every guy that’s powerful has good speed.”
The Huskies completed a 12-2 season by making the Mid-American Conference’s first appearance in a Bowl Championship Series bowl game and were ranked 22nd in the final Associated Press Poll. NIU has won at least 11 games in each of the last three seasons and returns second team All-American Jordan Lynch, who finished seventh in the Heisman voting a year ago.
Northern Illinois begins 2013 spring practices Wednesday, March 20, at Huskie Stadium and will open the season Saturday, Aug. 31, at Iowa.