In returning eight of nine defensive backs to a squad that has a proclivity for fielding an excellent secondary, NIU is poised to return as a consistently solid defense overall. Very likely leading that defense will be senior cornerback Paris Logan who will deter a lot of passes towards the Huskies' opponents' primary receivers.
Former Huskies free safety Dechane Durante is the lone DB not to return, but it is unlikely to phase the pass defense too much. Brandon Mayes and Mycial Allen are both set to take snaps at safety, and with the expected improvement of corners opposite of Logan like Anthony Brooks and Albert Smalls, things should be just peachy.
A two-star prospect out of high school, the none-too-big senior (listed at 5'9" 195 lbs.) has held his own against some of the MAC's better receivers. Recording three interceptions and 15 pass breakups was just one aspect of defense that he succeeded in. Skill-wise, Logan gets his nose in on the run game as well, and totaled 77 tackles in 2014 (good for fourth on the team).
Now tied for seventh in school history in pass breakups (22 in his career mostly as a two-year starter), the Thorpe Award Watch List nominee actually put together a streak in which he broke up a pass in 12 consecutive games in 2014. As a first-team All-MAC selection last season, Logan looks to repeat in that respect again and solidify himself among the upper echelon of NIU DB's in recent years which surely includes Jimmie Ward.
Seriously though, how does Rod Carey keep turning non-ranked and two-star guys into such studs?
Logan may get his chances in the return game, but given his importance on defense, don't expect that to happen frequently. With 20 kickoff returns in 2013 and five in a year ago, the possibility of him getting chances on special teams this year is still up in the air.
Lastly, Logan has stepped up in key situations, which included picking off passes in three wins in 2014, one against Northwestern, one against Ball State and another vs. BG in the MAC championship game. After a not exactly stellar first half to the season, he finished strong and exemplified the tough, hard-working, simple demeanor that the Huskies have been known for in recent years. Bend and don't break. His small stature figured very little in his successes, as the tough-minded, physically and mentally, corner put together quite the campaign. So does Logan have what it takes to become the best DB in the MAC and endear himself to professional scouts in 2015?