Perez Ford has made an impact at NIU since his freshman year. And after years of hard work and great play, he has finally been named to our Top-players list.
Of the 42 games NIU has played since he has been a Huskie, Ford has been on the field in 41 of those games, you know, just 97 percent of the games. Not an easy task to do as a defensive end.
But Ford was not always strictly a defensive player. At Romeoville High School (IL) he was a state qualifier in the 100 and 200 meters on the track team and rushed for over 600 yards and six TDs his senior season in addition to his 36 tackles, two pass breakups, and pick-six. Due to his speed and versatility, he was ranked the 18th best prospect in Illinois in 2011.
As the Huskies have always had depth at running back, he was kept on the defensive side where, as a true freshman back in 2012, he played in 13 games, mostly on special teams. He tallied up six tackles and a TFL that season.
His sophomore year he was part of Dave Doeren's rotating D-line and saw time in every game. He left his mark that season, as he was second on the team in TFL (with eight) and third in sacks with four - two of which were against Eastern Illinois. When the Huskies took on the Idaho Vandals that season, Ford shined. He finished the game with six tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, and forced and recovered a fumble.
Last season Ford was a force to be reckoned with, again appearing in every game. He was eighth on the team with 57 total tackles with 33 of those being solo tackles. But he found a way to get into the backfield with ease. He was second on the team in tackles for loss and sacks (behind Jason Meehan), and was responsible for most yards lost. He had 9 TFL totaling up -53 yards and five sacks for -43 yards. He almost took opponents back the entire length of the field!
Ford was also second in QB hurries, as he was credited with 5 QBH (once again only Meehan had more). He also broke up three passes and lead the team in forced fumbles, with three. Against the UNLV Rebels last season he had five solo tackles, two TFL, and a sack. During the Ohio game, Ford had a season-best six tackles.
His accolades landed him a spot on the second-team All-MAC squad last year and already this season Phil Steele has him on the Preseason All-MAC second-team. Along with Steele's preseason ranking, Athlon just named Ford a first-team All-MAC player with fellow Huskies Paris Logan and Andrew Ness.
This year, expect more of the same. His speed and athleticism allow him to get past the O-line quickly and hunt down QBs and halfbacks. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what he has in store for us this year...but in case you can't wait until September 5th, here's a look back at some of his highlights.