A fourth-straight MAC Championship game appearance, a top-3 Heisman finish, a run at another BCS appearance. Those were just some of the highlights from Northern Illinois' regular season. But as great as the regular season was, the Huskies ended it in a tailspin of fire. They were blown out in the MACC, and in their bowl game. They lost Jordan Lynch, Jimmie Ward, Ken Bishop and several starters from one of the MAC's best offensive lines.
The negative momentum spilled into the recruiting trail as NIU watched several commits flip to BCS schools in the final weeks leading up to Signing Day. But in the days leading up to the event, NIU pulled in some big names, and on Wednesday hauled in a massive 31-man class for 2014.
|Name||Position||Height||Weight||Hometown (Previous School)|
|Christian Blake||WR||6'1"||170||Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (Cardinal Gibbons)|
|Dale Brown||TE||6'5"||245||Lee's Summit, Mo. (West)|
|Russell Chambers||DE||6'5"||245||Milwaukee, Wisc. (Riverside Univ.)|
|Ben Compton||DE||6'4"||260||Windsor, Conn. (Windsor/Monroe Coll.)|
|Herlandez Corley||DE||6'3"||240||Mobile, Ala. (McGill-Toolen)|
|Will Daniels||DB||6'1"||205||Green Bay, Wisc. (Preble)|
|Peter Deppe||P||6'0"||180||Almont, Mich. (Almont)|
|Shane Evans||OL||6'4"||295||Crystal Lake, Ill. (Prairie Ridge)|
|Aaron Fischer||FB||5'11"||230||Sun Prairie, Wisc. (Sun Prairie)|
|Jareem Fleming||DE||6'1"||215||Chicago, Ill. (Morgan Park)|
|Kenny Golladay||WR||6'4"||195||Chicago, Ill. (St. Rita/Univ. of North Dakota)|
|Ryan Graham||QB||6'1"||185||Wheaton, Ill. (Warrenville South)|
|Christian Hagan||K||6'1"||175||Omaha, Neb. (Westside)|
|Delon Hallmon||DB||6'0"||180||Weston, Fla. (Cypress Bay)|
|Ty Harmston||DL||6'4"||230||Stockton, Ill. (Stockton)|
|Darion Henderson||DB||6'0"||205||Chicago, Ill. (Hubbard)|
|Tifonte Hunt||DB||5'8"||170||Harvey, Ill. (Thornton Township)|
|Jawuan Johnson||DB||6'0"||180||New Boston, Texas (New Boston)|
|Aaron Kumbier||WR||6'0"||180||Watertown, Wisc. (Watertown)|
|Rajshawn Mosley||DE||6'4"||240||Indianapolis, Ind. (Arsenal Tech)|
|David O'Gorman||DL||6'2"||225||Watertown, Wisc. (Watertown)|
|Mayomi Olootu||DB||5'9"||170||Allen, Texas (Allen)|
|Khalil Rogers||LB||6'0"||212||North Chicago, Ill. (North Chicago)|
|Landon Root||QB||6'3"||200||Wichita, Kan. (Wichita Collegiate)|
|Tony Rychiowski||OL||6'4"||250||Greenfield, Wisc. (Greenfield)|
|Ezra Saffold||WR||5'7"||160||West Palm Beach, Fla. (Dwyer)|
|Max Scharping||OL||6'6"||250||Green Bay, Wisc. (Southwest)|
|David Senior||WR||5'10"||160||Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (Boyd Anderson)|
|Luke Shively||OL||6'2"||265||Tipton, Ind. (Tipton)|
|Albert Smalls||DB||6'0"||180||Miramar, Fla. (Monsignor Place)|
|Denzel Tolliver||TE||6'4"||220||Hillside, Ill. (Proviso West)|
Northern Illinois didn't have many areas of need. The Huskies weren't going to find their immediate replacement for Jordan Lynch in this class, and Cameron Stingily is back to lead the rushing attack. As are the teams top receivers, and despite losing a few players on the defensive and offensive lines, the Huskies still had depth. But depth, is also what the Huskies added with this class. Five wide receivers, six defensive ends and seven defensive backs. There were also a pair of quarterbacks. including 3-star pro-style Landon Root, oh, and a kicker! Some of the players are preferred walk-ons, a few are delayed recruits from a season ago, but either way it's a big class with lots of talent.
There's no denying the Huskies filled a lot of holes in this class. While not as star-studded as Western Michigan's 28-man haul, NIU's class also carries some punching power. Root is one of the top players out of the state of Kansas. Shane Evans is a big-boddied 3-star offensive lineman that should develop into something nice. There are also athletes such as David Senior and Christian Blake which should develop into nice options in NIU's passing attack.
However, here are the standout names from this class.
Deion Hallmon is by far the biggest get for NIU. The Fort Lauderdale product announced his decision late Tuesday night. He's a big-time prospect that had 41 offers from plenty of elite BCS level programs, including Florida State, yet chose to join the Huskies. He will come in and compete for playing tim right away in a secondary that can use some help. The Huskies lost some talent, and were also dead last against the pass in 2013. Hollman has all the tools to become an elite member of NIU's secondary. He likely won't earn a starting role, but he will see the field, and baring any unforeseen issues will develop into one of the better players on NIU's roster in time.
Another player to watch is fellow cornerback Mayomi Olootu. He's slightly smaller than Hallman, but is still one of those types of corners that can lock down a receiver, and should get immediate looks. A top 200 prospect out of the talent rich state of Texas, Olootu also is big because he potentially opens up a new area for the Huskies to recruit from if he can come in and have success.
Staying on the defensive side of things, Russel Chamber, Rajshawn Mosely and Herlandez Corely are three players that may seem limited time as freshman, but even if not, should be names to keep an eye out for in the future. The defensive ends all have good size, speed, and hitting power. They could all bulk up a bit, and in Corely's case, he could be moved to a stand-up edge rusher if he can improve his finesse moves, but either way the Huskies have signed themselves three players who should be the foundation of a dangerous pass rush in the future.
As a whole this class is insanely solid. It's added players ate areas of need, such as the secondary, while also signing athletes who could develop into playmakers at positions where there's time to develop new players such as wide receiver. Bulking up the roster was the main focus with this class, and Carey did just that. A solid balance of talent, featuring some real gems such as Hallmon and Root, and also some more rough pieces such as dual-threat quarterback Ryan Graham make up a class that features a little bit of everything. NIU also did a good job of getting talent of the Chicago-land area, and Wisconsin, while dipping into the standard recruiting hotbeds of Florida and Texas.
If Huskie fans could have anything else in this class it may have been a few more big-name prospects along the lines of Hallmon, but on the offensive side of things. After all, at what point does being the most consistent program in FBS football start to pay some big dividends? But still, this is a well-rounded, balanced class that doesn't leave any holes.
HUSTLE BELT OFFICIAL GRADE: A-
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