Just two safeties in camp with the Northern Illinois University football team have seen game action but between them the duo of redshirt senior Dechane Durante (Charlotte, N.C./Vance) and junior Marlon Moore (Mobile, Ala./C.F. Vigor) have combined for 63 games played and 45 starts.
“They are both having a good camp and off to a really good start,” said Jay Niemann, NIU defensive coordinator and safeties coach. “Marlon is converted from corner to safety but he was a high school safety and we were impressed with him on film, we just needed him at corner here his first couple of years in the system but he has transitioned really well, doing a nice job as a leader making calls, getting himself lined up and directing traffic back there.”
A veteran of 26 contests in his first two seasons at NIU, including 14 starts, Moore made 34 tackles a season ago and led the Huskies with 12 pass break ups. The Mobile, Ala., native has three career interceptions, including a pair against Buffalo in 2012 as a true freshmen, which earned him MAC West Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Durante has played in 37 games during his NIU career, including 31 starts. The Charlotte, N.C., native earned All-MAC Third Team honors a season ago while recording 55 tackles and three interceptions, including a pair of picks in NIU’s 55-24 rout of Purdue.
“Dechane is going on his fourth year as a starter here,” Niemann said. “Three or four games into his redshirt freshman year he began to start and has started ever since, so he brings a lot of experience and knowledge back to the position and he is having a really good camp as well.”
With a young group behind the veteran duo, Niemann sees the leadership role of Durante and Moore as being particularly important.
“It’s critical,” Niemann said. “How they go about their meetings, their film study, their work habits on the field and the way they communicate with the rest of the group. It’s important that the young guys have people to look up to that lead by example and they are doing a nice job of that.”
Along with helping along the younger guys, Durante and Moore will also be looked upon to fill the void left by First Team All-American and First Round NFL Draft choice Jimmie Ward, but Niemann doesn’t believe that burden falls upon the shoulders of a single individual, but the entire group.
“I think the biggest thing about Jimmie, from the standpoint of intangibles, was how he went about his business, how he handled his day-to-day routine,” Niemann said.
“The body of work that he put in during the time that he was here, how he progressed as a leader while he was in the program, especially into his final season. Obviously his talents speak for themselves and nobody is going to replace that but collectively as a group they just have to raise their level a little bit and play within themselves.”
A pair of redshirt freshmen in Jackson Abresch (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead) and Brandon Mayes (Aurora, Ill./Aurora Christian) lead the group behind Durante and Moore and Niemann likes what he has seen from them so far this fall.
“They are both having a good camp, making the strides that you would expect redshirt freshmen to make from one year to the second (year),” Niemann said. “We are really pleased with them and I expect them to contribute on game day.”
Niemann has also been pleased thus far with his lone newcomer, Jawuan Johnson (New Boston, Texas/New Boston).
“We only brought in one scholarship safety, that was Jawuan Johnson, and he is doing a good job,” Niemann said. “It takes a while to catch on to our system but he is getting better every day, working hard at it and is making progress.”
For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.