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2016 MAC Player Countdown #9: Kenny Golladay, WR, NIU

After a great junior year, what can the huge receiver do in his final season?

NCAA Football: Eastern Michigan at Northern Illinois Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Northern Illinois Huskies have never really been known for their passing attack. In fact, only 26 players have ever left DeKalb with 1000+ receiving yards.

But, in just one season for NIU, Kenny Golladay is already one of those 26...and looking to become the first Huskie with back-to-back 1000 yard seasons ever (the closest the Huskies have ever come was Justin McCareins who had 906 and 1198 back in 1999 and 2000 respectively). He was named a Second Team All-MAC player last year and was named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List this preseason.

Golladay, a huge 6’4 target, spent his first two seasons playing for the FCS school North Dakota. While a Fighting Hawk, Golladay caught 99 passes for 1313 yards and scored nine times.

After transferring to NIU, he was redshirted in 2014 but made a huge impression during practices. And then last season he made an even bigger splash in the MAC.

Last year Golladay finished with 73 catches, 1129 yards, 10 touchdowns, and an average of 15.5 yards per reception. He had a catch in every game and six or more receptions in nine games. In four games last year he had more than 125 receiving yards and 90+ yards in six games.

In the season opener against UNLV last year, his first true game as a Huskie, he quickly made his mark. Golladay hauled in nine passes for 213 yards - which was tied for the sixth most receiving yards any NIU player has ever had in a game. He followed that up with two touchdowns in an eight-grab, 144 yard performance the following week against Murray State.

While he (and the rest of the offense) struggled against top-tier opponents, tallying just seven catches and 33 yards against Ohio State, Boston College, and Boise State combined, the rest of the MAC sure saw what he was capable of.

In his first four games against the MAC, he gained 290 yards and two touchdowns but when Drew Hare went down in the Toledo game, Golladay took over; helping his backup QBs in getting NIU back to Detroit.

Against the Rockets, he snagged eight passes for 128 yards and had this amazing one-handed touchdown to get the Huskies within two points early in the fourth quarter.

Then, the next week against Buffalo, he followed that up by hauling six passes for 141 yards and two scores, including a season-long 68-yard TD bomb. In the final four regular season games, Golladay exploded for 434 yards and six touchdowns on just 24 grabs.

In just one season, Golladay has made a name for himself as one of NIU’s all-time great receivers. His 1129 yards last year were the third most in a single season for NIU (Dave Petzke 1215 yards in 1978; McCareins 1198 in 2000) and puts him 21st on the Huskies all-time receiving list (just 548 yards from the top-10).

If he can get 871 yards this season he will be one of just six Huskies with 2000 receiving yards, and he’s just 1034 yards away from cracking the top-5; knocking P.J. Fleck into the sixth spot.

Golladay might be well known by MAC DBs this season but defending him will still be a challenge. His commanding size and play-making ability makes him a great target for any quarterback - especially in the red zone - and a difficult player to defend. He easily has a six inch height advantage over most corners in the MAC and the power to knock them down.

He and Hare have been working on their chemistry and routes all off-season and are primed to be an even stronger duo this season. If he stays healthy, there is no reason Golladay wont torch the MAC again and end his Huskie career with back-to-back 1000 yard seasons.