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2016 MAC Player Countdown #5: Drew Hare, QB, NIU

Hare returns from injury for his final season at NIU

NCAA Football: Miami (Ohio) at Northern Illinois Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

For most of their history the Northern Illinois Huskies have not relied too heavily on their quarterbacks. Sure, in 1963 George Bork became the first player to ever throw for 3000 yards in a season and won NIU a D-II National Championship but, since becoming a D-1 school in 1968, only seven Huskies have thrown for 4000 or more yards.

But, since 2008, the quarterback has been the star of the Huskie team. First it was Chandler Harnish...then it was “Mr. MACtion” Jordan Lynch, and now it’s Drew Hare.

Hare, who is slated to be healthy and ready to go for this year, tore his Achilles last season against Toledo. It will be his third year at the helm for NIU.

He has been a model of consistency under center for the Huskies. Two years ago he won the starting job over both Matt McIntosh and Anthony Maddie during the Northwestern game in week two.

From there he proved he could take NIU to top. In 2014 he passed for 2322 yards, completed 59.5% of his passes and had an insane 18-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Plus, he did his best Jordan Lynch impersonation, and rushed for an additional 900 yards and eight touchdowns in addition to winning 11 games and the MAC Championship.

Last year, he started where he left off in 2014. In the first two games he completed 78.1% of his passes for 718 yards and six touchdowns; becoming the first NIU QB with back-to-back 300+ yard passing games since 1969!

Over the next three games (against #1 Ohio State, Boston College, and the Huskies’ kryptonite CMU) he struggled though, as he managed just 266 combined yards, threw three of his four interceptions, and had no touchdowns but righted the ship in week six.

But, against the MAC, Hare lit it up; completing just under 73% of his passes (with a career high 90.6% against Ball State - going 29-32) for 833 yards, seven touchdowns, and no picks in the following three contests. Then, in the first half of the Toledo game, he had already thrown for 145 yards and a touchdown before he tore his Achilles and missed the rest of the season.

All said and done, before the injury last year, Hare had done well; completing 164 of his 257 pass attempts (63.8%), tallying 1962 yards, and amassing 14 touchdowns to just four interceptions.

In his career Hare has killed MAC opponents. In the 14 MAC games he’s started in, Hare has gone 12-2 against conference teams (only CMU has bested him), connected on 61.2% of his passes (218/356), thrown for 2507 yards, 17 TDs and just 3 interceptions, and had an average QBR of 135.05.

Hare, in less than two full seasons, has climbed his way up the Huskies’ record books and now sits in the top-10 in most categories. He is sixth all-time on NIU’s passing yards list with 4437 yards. And, although he (almost certainly) wont break Harnish’s record of 8994 yards, with just 2115 more yards he will reach second all-time. Hare’s completion percentage of 61.3% ranks him fourth, his 34 TD passes puts him sixth, and his 141.2 QB rating is good enough for third. Finally, he has thrown the least amount of interceptions (6) for any starting quarterback (min. 150 passing attempts) in Huskie history.

This season, as long as he stays healthy, Hare figures to have another great year. He has his top two receivers returning (Kenny Golladay and Aregeros Turner), makes smart decisions with the football, and has been one of the most consistent QBs DeKalb has ever seen. It could be a long year for MAC defenses with Hare and Golladay both healthy.