The story of Northern Illinois last year was Jordan Lynch, but the foundation of their success, without question, was their offensive line. I'm still amazed at how inexperienced the line was and continued to give Lynch the protection he needed to make plays. And a key piece of that offensive line was Jared Volk, now entering his redshirt senior year and getting some preseason accolades, being named second team All-MAC by Phil Steele and Lindy's.
Out of Arrowhead High School in Hartland, Wisconsin, Volk committed to the Huskies in 2009 after his other offers were FCS schools: Illinois State, North Dakota and North Dakota State. After redshirting in '09, his freshman year he participated in field goal and PAT protection units, also seeing time at center. As a sophomore he saw time at guard in eight games, including the GoDaddy.com Bowl, in which beforehand he also won an impromptu bowling tournament in the locker room by using a ball made out of tape.
After Logan Pegram was lost for the 2012 the season with a leg injury, Volk became the de facto seniority leader on the line, being the only one among the group with previous starting experience (two game). After missing the Iowa game to an injury of his own, Volk started at right guard against UT-Martin and Army, then left guard the rest of the way. The MAC had some pretty impressive lines, and I still maintain Ball State's unit was better as a whole, but Volk's presence is a big reason the Huskies arguably have the top line coming into 2013, both in terms of potential, performance and depth.
And with the former offensive line coach now as the head coach, Rod Carey will make sure above all else that the line does their job.
For a team that's won back-to-back MAC titles and spent the spring licking their wounds after that Orange Bowl, expectations are pretty big for the Huskies in 2013 but much of their success will hinge on the offensive line, and Volk remains their most experienced blocker. He also has tape bowling experience, and you never know when that will come in handy.