Top MAC Football Players Of 2013: #53, Ken Bishop, Northern Illinois DL

Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

The junior college transfer is a big part — philosophically and physically — of that veteran defensive line.

I don't do press conferences or media credentials in general. I have my job and sportswriters have theirs. I've always felt weird getting media credentials for a hobby alongside professionals who basically treat their lanyard like their key fob. Meanwhile, I keep mine because it was a cool memento of places I've been to. But the role of on-site reporter is something they don't need me for. They collect the quotes and put them in their article, and most schools are sharing their presser videos online as well, so what's the point of me going?

Having said all that, my first press pass in quite some time was for last year's MAC Championship Game, and I'll tell you why one needs to attend a game as a media member once in a while, assuming you're qualified: to understand how large these people are.

Ken Bishop's a big fella. His bio lists him at 6'1", 308 pounds, and you may know some 300-pound people in your life, but how much of it is muscle? Bishop took me by surprise, not only in his size but in the fact that during the MAC Championship Game postgame presser he sat alongside Jordan Lynch, Akeem Daniels and Dave Doeren. For whatever reason he showed up about a minute late, and maybe this happens all the time, but it made me go back and look at what Bishop did that season. It wasn't a case of missing a player who I should know (that has happened before) but 9.5 TFLs and two sacks is a pretty solid year. But the MACCG is what put him on the map: three TFLs, a sack and a QB hurry on Spencer Keith to contribute to that game-ending interception in double overtime.

And it was with his first year with the program. So I feel a little better in just learning about him that night.

Bishop began at Piper High School in Sunrise, Florida then enrolled at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa, where he played two seasons and earned various types of juco honors. He chose NIU over Kansas, helped in part due to playing at ECC previously with current Huskie cornerback Jhony Faustin as well as knowing Jamaal Bass from back in the state of Florida.

When thinking about last year's NIU team, what came to mind was Sean Progar and Alan Baxter on that defensive line, and rightfully so — they led the team in sacks the past two years. This year he's the man on the inside, listed as the top defensive tackle along with Donovan Gordon as the nose guard and George Rainey and Joe Windsor on the ends. All of them are seniors.

Bishop's presence will be a huge part of the defensive identity. He may not rack up huge sack numbers (because interior linemen rarely do) but expect to see more types of games he had against Kent State last year, disrupting the running game and possibly forcing some turnovers, something he didn't do last year. But one thing's for sure: he's definitely on the radar and deserves to be here.

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