Wide receivers Tommylee Lewis (Riviera Beach, Fla./W.T. Dwyer), Da’Ron Brown (Chicago, Ill./Morgan Park) and Juwan Brescacin (Mississauga, Ont., Canada/Culver [Ind.] Acad.) combined for 165 receptions, 1,966 yards and 18 touchdowns for the 2013 Northern Illinois University football team.
They’re all back in 2014, and much is expected of the Huskies’ talented, experienced and versatile corps of pass catchers.
In his second season as NIU wide receivers coach, Thad Ward is looking for big things from his receivers, especially given the versatility and depth of the group.
“I like the versatility in our group; you have to have that. I like being able to look up to some of my tall receivers, but you also need those little, quick guys that can make things happen in space,” Ward said. “Our receivers go from 5-foot-7 to 6-foot-5, so it’s definitely nice to have that versatility.”
Ward also likes what he’s seen from a leadership perspective from NIU’s two senior wide receivers, Lewis and Brown.
“The seniors are definitely stepping up and being the leaders they need to be,” Ward said. “Both of them are having great camps, and that’s helping the young guys develop and continue to get better as well.”
Lewis, who led the Huskies’ receivers in receptions (86 catches) and all-purpose yardage (1,405 yards) last season, believes the wide receivers can be one of the most productive units on the team for NIU in 2014.
“We’re definitely expecting big things from the receiving group,” Lewis said. “We’ve got to keep working and pushing each other to get better, and we can help this team get back to where we want to be.”
Head coach Rod Carey likes the experience and depth from NIU’s receiving corps, which includes six returning players that recorded multiple receptions in 2013.
“A lot of the receivers we played last season are going to play this season, and that’s big because the quarterbacks always know they’ll be in the right spot,” said Carey. “Any time you have depth at a position like that, it’s a huge positive because it’s a long season.”
Adding to that depth are several young receivers that Ward has been impressed with in training camp.
“Ezra Saffold (West Palm Beach, Fla./W.T. Dwyer) is a true freshman that’s stepping up, and Christian Blake (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons) is another true freshman having a pretty decent camp,” Ward said. “Then you have guys like Chad Beebe (Aurora, Ill./Aurora Christian) having an awesome camp and just making plays over and over again. Clayton Glasper (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) has also shown some flashes here and there. We’ve got some guys that have been very productive so far.”
For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.