After missing the MAC Championship game for the first time in six years, Northern Illinois will look to get back on top of the MAC West division next year.
On paper, this is a typical NIU recruiting class, a mix of highly rated recruits with reported P5 offers to go with a handful of recruits who went more under-the-radar throughout the recruiting process.
This class also is rooted in the Land of Lincoln. Recruiting the state of Illinois has always been a big priority for Rod Carey and his staff, and that did not change in this recruiting cycle. With that said, NIU signed 22 players on National Signing Day.
Meet the future of the Northern Illinois Huskies.
The Signees (* denotes early enrollees)
QB Rodney Hall, 3-star, 6’2”, 210, Cass Tech (MI)*
LB Michael Kennedy, 2-star, 6’2” 185, Mount Carmel (IL)
WR Tyrice Richie, 3-star, 6’0”, 180, Marian Catholic (IL)
RB Jordan Nettles, 2-star, 5’9”, 180, Romeoville (IL)
WR Cole Tucker, 3-star, 6’2”, 180, DeKalb (IL)
WR Dennis Robinson, 3-star, 6’5”, 192, South Broward (FL)
TE Liam Soraghan, 2-star, 6’7” 235, Divine Child (MI)
OT Isaac Hawn, 3-star 6’7” 278, St. Charles North (IL)*
OT Cole Webster, 3-star, 6’7”, 270, Bettendorf (IA)
OT Calvin Dassow, 2-star, 6’7”, 300, Hamilton (WI)
DT Justin Nwachukwu, 2-star 6’2”, 290, Butler CC (KS)
S Dexter Warren, 2-star 5’11, 161, Phillips Academy (IL)
LB Jawon Denton, 2-star, 6’3”, 200, Morgan Park (IL)
LB Matt Lorbeck, 2-star, 6’3, 220, Bay Port (WI)
S Dillon Thomas, 2-star, 6’2, 160, Park Hill South (MO)
DT Weston Kramer, 2-star, 6’2, 280, Marmion Academy (IL)
RB Jordan Rowell, 3-star, 6’1, 190, Immaculate Conception (IL)
K Jacob Ballain, 6’0, 180, Whiteland (IN)
LB Jordan Cole, 6’3, 182, McCluer South-Berkeley (MO)
P Matt Ference, 5’11, 180, Lafayette (MO)
DE Connor Schneider, 6’3, 210, Penn (IN)
LB Rayshawn Gay, 6’3, 200, Proviso East (IL)
For the second time in the last three years, the Huskies lost a quarterback commitment to play another position for a B1G program. This year it was 3-star QB/LB Nate Wieland. Wieland originally committed to NIU to play quarterback and was likely to be in the mix of a wide-open quarterback battle for next season. As previously mentioned, Wieland is not the first quarterback to do this in recent years: if you recall, Alec Ingold was committed to NIU before hometown Wisconsin offered late in the process.The move has paid off for Ingold so far as he is their starting fullback as he scored 6 touchdowns as a freshman, and 2 in his sophomore campaign.
The show will obviously still go on without Wieland as Rodney Hall is already on campus for the 2nd semester. The experience that Hall will gain by enrolling a semester early could turn out to be invaluable. He is a nice fit in this offense, and it looks like he will have an opportunity to see the field early in his career.
This class is loaded with explosive wide receivers. No matter who winds up starting under center next year, they will have plenty of freshman weapons to choose from. Tyrice Richie is an in-state product who looks to be a potential star. Hometown recruit, Cole Tucker, has been committed for about 11 months and has the ability to stretch the field. Dennis Robinson is a Florida native who signed with the Huskies over a reported offer from NC State. All three players are 3-star recruits who will only give coach Carey more weapons to use on offense.
While NIU landed quite a few skill position players, the Huskies also continued to beef up their offensive line in this class. Isaac Hawn is NIU’s highest rated signee, and also an early enrollee. He turned down a reported offer from Illinois to attend NIU.
Nate Wieland is not the only recruit that NIU lost to Iowa unfortunately. 2-star DE Daviyon Nixon also de-committed, and signed with the Hawkeyes on Signing Day.
On the bright side, this class brings in a pair of talented JUCO defensive lineman: Devin Webster and Justin Nwachukwu. Nwachukwu originally committed to EMU before ultimately signing with the Huskies. Webster is a guy who went pretty under-the-radar, however look for him to make an immediate impact on the line. If NIU is to improve upon some of their defensive struggles from last year, this pair of JUCO lineman will need to be a major part of the defense.
S Dexter Warren is an in-state signee that we’re very high on. At just under 6-feet tall, Warren is a ball-hawking safety who has the ability to see the field as a freshman. All in all, NIU signed an extremely well round recruiting class, especially on defense.
This group is probably one of the more underrated recruiting classes in the conference. It is one of the most well-balanced classes in the conference, which will provide much needed depth across the program. If this group of talented receivers can develop some sort of connection with one of NIU’s young quarterbacks, NIU’s offense could be exciting to watch for years to come.