Lynch was signed by his hometown team, the Chicago Bears, as a running back Sunday. While a quarterback at NIU, he broke the NCAA record for rushing yards twice.
Windsor, of Kearney, Mo., joins 2014 NIU seventh-round draftee Ken Bishop after signing a free-agent deal on Monday with the Dallas Cowboys to play linebacker.
They join former NIU safety Jimmie Ward, the first-round draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers with the No. 30 overall selection, as members of the 2013 Huskie senior class who will be in rookie camps in 2014.
NIU football coach Rod Carey thinks that both Lynch and Windsor have the ability to make their marks in the NFL.
“The Bears made a great choice in adding the best football player that I’ve coached,” Carey said. “I have no doubt that he’ll work extremely hard to prove himself. I’m happy for him and his family and the opportunity he has here in Chicago.”
Lynch, a product of Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago, led NIU to a 24-4 record in two seasons as the Huskies’ starting quarterback with three wins over Bowl Championship Series teams and a Mid-American Conference Championship. The Huskies never lost a home game during his four active seasons.
He broke 25 school records and set five NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision marks, including breaking the single-season and single-game marks for rushing yards by a quarterback twice apiece. He accounted for 100 total touchdowns in his four-year NIU career (51 passing, 48 rushing, one receiving) and averaged 7.1 yards per play for his career.
Lynch made history at NIU in multiple areas – first by leading the Huskies to the first BCS appearance by a Mid-American Conference team when NIU met Florida State in the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl. His third-place finish in the 2013 Heisman Trophy voting gave him the highest finish ever by a MAC player for the top college football award.
Carey has no doubt that Lynch can excel at any position.
“He’s a great football player,” Carey said. “He’ll adjust and be able to (play running back). I’ll look forward to seeing him. There is no doubt in my mind that he can be great.”
Windsor played 53 games in four seasons on the NIU defensive line and compiled 99 tackles with 12 quarterback sacks and 22 tackles for loss. As a junior in 2012, he had a career-best 10 tackles for loss and seven quarterback sacks before adding 4.5 sacks and eight TFLs in 2013.
Windsor is looking to follow a similar path to the NFL as that taken by 2012 senior Alan Baxter, a defensive end at NIU who spent part of last year with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an outside linebacker and will be in camp with the Indianapolis Colts this season. The Cowboys list Windsor as a linebacker on their free-agent list.
“Joe had an outstanding career at NIU and really came a long way as a person and a player,” Carey said. “I’m happy to see him get an opportunity to go down to Dallas and show what he can do. I have the utmost confidence in him that he’ll work hard and have a great chance to make the team.”
NIU is coming off its second consecutive 12-2 season and the Huskies will take a nation-leading 26-game home winning streak into its season opener on Aug. 28. Tickets for the five-game home schedule are on sale at www.NIUHuskies.com.