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Top MAC Football Players of 2014: No. 10 Jamaal Bass, NIU Linebacker

We break into the top-10 with the Huskies' senior LB. Bass has been a beast for the Huskies for three years now...expect more of the same in 2014.

Jamaal Bass celebrates a win
Jamaal Bass celebrates a win

Last season, Jordan Lynch (No. 6) tore up the MAC. But there was another player for the Northern Illinois Huskies that wore the number six, and he had every offensive player shaking in his boots.

Jamaal Bass weighs in at 5 foot 10 and 214 pounds, but plays much bigger. The senior from Miramar, Florida was redshirted as a true freshman in 2010, but would prove he could play the next season. In 2011 he appeared in 11 games (starting ten of those) and racked up 62 tackles (sixth on the team), 5.5 for a loss, and a pass breakup as a weakside linebacker. even named him to the MAC All-Freshman Team.

In 2012 he increased his production, starting in 13 of the 14 games at outside linebacker. He was third on the team in tackles, with 83, six of which were for a loss. He even had a 44-yard interception return and a forced a fumble.

However, it was last season that people began to take notice. Bass, who started all 14 games, amassed 87 tackles (second on the team), had 1.5 sacks, six tackles for a loss, forced two fumbles, broke up two passes, and had offensive players worried to come across his path. Against the Iowa Hawkeyes he had a career-high 10 stops, but it was the Kent State Golden Flashes and Eastern Illinois Panthers that he dominated. In those games combined, Bass had 17 tackles, two TFL, a forced fumble, pass breakup, and a sack. For his efforts last season, he was selected to the 2013 All-MAC team and is currently on the 2014 Lombardi Award Watch List (the nation's best lineman/linebacker).

With Jimmie Ward departing to the NFL, the Huskies defense will need a new leader to step up. Bass is one of the few that can move into that position - he is one of best linebackers out there, and will have receivers and running backs scared to come across the middle.