- The NIU Huskies travel to Kentucky for the first time since 1996 and make just their third trip to the Bluegrass state all-time as they take on the Kentucky Wildcats for the first time in school history.
- NIU is looking for its seventh win over an Associated Press ranked team all-time, and its first over a non-conference opponent since defeating No. 21 Alabama, 19-16, in Tuscaloosa in 2003.
- At No. 8/9 in the latest polls, Kentucky is the highest ranked team NIU has faced since Sept. 19, 2015 when the Huskies lost at No. 1 Ohio State, 20-13.
- NIU is coming off a 38-28 loss to Vanderbilt in Huskie Stadium as the Commodores scored the final 24 points of the contest over the last 22 minutes.
- Huskie quarterbacks Rocky Lombardi and Ethan Hampton combined to complete 14 straight passes (seven each) to start the Vanderbilt game, one off the NIU record for consecutive completions.
- The Huskies are the defending Mid-American Conference Champions and entered the season as one of just five teams from a non-autonomous (Group of 5) league with 100 or more wins since 2010. NIU was selected by the league media and coaches to claim the MAC West title (see polls page 2).
- Twenty-one of the Huskies’ 35 games under Thomas Hammock (2019-present)have been decided by one score (eight points or less) with 10 determined by three points or less. NIU is 7-3 since 2019 in games within that three-point margin, including a 4-0 mark in 2021. Over the last two seasons, NIU is 8-4 in one score games.
- NIU head coach Thomas Hammock, a two-time first team CoSIDA Academic All-American who rushed for over 1,000 yards to lead the Huskies in both 2000 and 2001, is in his fourth season as head coach at his alma mater. Hammock, a finalist for Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year honors a year ago, will be inducted into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame on October 8.
- Linebacker Kyle Pugh has made NCAA FBS history as he is back for his eighth season at NIU. Pugh saw his 2017 and 2019 seasons cut short, missed 2021 with a knee injury sustained in the spring, and earned the COVID-19 “re-do” for 2020. The two-time All-MAC (2018, 2020) linebacker currently ranks third on the team with 23 tackles.
NIU FOOTBALL FACTS
Head Coach:Thomas Hammock (NIU ’02)
Record at NIU/Years: 15-20/4th
Career Record/Years: Same
Basic Offense/Defense: Multiple/4-2-5
First Year of Football: 1899
2021 Record/MAC Record/Finish: 9-5/6-2/1st
All-Time Record: 602-514-51
Last Bowl Game: 2021 Tailgreeter Cure Bowl (Coastal Carolina 47, NIU 41)
Bowl Appearances (FBS): 14
MAC Championship Appearances, Last: 9, 2021
MAC Championships, Last: 6, 2021
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 52/15
Starters Returning: 22 (8 offense, 13 defense, 1 specialist)
Starters Lost: 7 (3 offense, 2 defense, 2 specialists)
Head Coach (Alma Mater/Year): Mark Stoops (Iowa, 1989)
Record at Kentucky/Years: 62-53/9th
Career Record/Years: Same
2021 Record: 10-3
Conference Record/Finish: 5-3/2nd-East
Location: Lexington, Ky.
Colors: Blue and White
Stadium: Kroger Field
Surface/Capacity: UBU Speed Series synthetic turf/61,000
Chancellor: Dr. Eli Capilouto
Athletic Director: Mitch Barnhart
Athletics Website: UKathletics.com
Kentucky Schedule & Results
FOLLOW THE HUSKIES
TV: NIU-KENTUCKY ON ESPN2
- The Huskies will make their 40th all-time appearance on ESPN2, the most of any ESPN Network, and are 25-14 in games broadcast on the network.
- The Huskies have had at least one game broadcast on ESPN2 every season since 2008 and will play on ESPN2 for the first time this season.
- Anish Shroff (play-by-play) and Brock Osweiler (analyst) will be on the call with sideline reporter Taylor McGregor.
RADIO: HUSKIE SPORTS NETWORK
- The Huskie Sports Radio Network coverage for the Kentucky game begins 90 minutes before kickoff, at 4:30 p.m. (CT), on 94-9 WDKB with the Toyota Huskie Nation Pre-Game Party.
- Coverage on WDKB, as well as NIU network affiliates AM 560 The Answer (Chicago) and SportsFan AM 1330 begins 30 minutes before the game, at 5:30 pm (CT).
- Hear the broadcast online via Huskie All Access, and on mobile devices via the FREE NIU Huskies mobile app or The Varsity Network app.
- Bill Baker is in his 43rd season as the radio play-by-play “Voice of the Huskies.” Color analyst Mark Lindo is alongside for the the 37th consecutive season, while Andy Garcia is in his 10th season on the NIU sidelines.
INSIDE HUSKIE FOOTBALL RADIO SHOW
- Fans are invited to attend the one-hour weekly show every week at 1 p.m. in the Novak Room at Fatty’s Pub & Grille in DeKalb (1312 W. Lincoln Hwy).
- Shows will take place on Thursdays in September and October before Saturday games.
- Listen live on the NIU Huskies or The Varsity Network mobile app and hear the show on the same day at 6 pm on SportsFan AM 1330 in Rockford.
- Host Andy Garcia chats with NIU Head Coach Thomas Hammock each week, along with Huskie players and special guests.
NIU WEEKLY ON YOUTUBE
- The show features weekly interviews with NIU football personnel, including head coach Thomas Hammock, as well as NIU administrators, coaches and student-athletes from other sports programs.
- Watch new episodes on the NIU Athletics YouTube Channel each week.
- The show is hosted by Andy Garcia.
NIU ATHLETICS ON YOUTUBE
- See weekly and post-game press conferences, video features, highlights of past games and more.
- Subscribe for FREE and click the bell to be notified every time NIU posts a new video.
- Search “NIU Athletics” on YouTube or go to YouTube.com/NIUAthleticsOfficial.
- Archived videos and highlights, replays of some of the greatest games in school history and special features are also available 24/7 on YouTube.
NIU HUSKIES MOBILE APP
- Download the new, free NIU Huskies mobile app from the Apple Store or Google Play.
- Link to the NIU radio broadcasts, live stats, complete team rosters, digital game programs and more.
- Connect to the NIU social media channels and sign up for notifications on any Huskie team.
LEXINGTON BOUND: The Northern Illinois University Huskies close out non-conference play on the road when NIU heads to Lexington, Kentucky to face the No. 8 (Associated Press)/No. 9 (USA Today/Coaches) ranked Kentucky Wildcats on ESPN2. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. CT/7 p.m. ET from Kroger Field.
FIRST TIMERS: NIU and Kentucky meet for the first time, the second new opponent on the Huskies’ non-conference slate in 2022. NIU fell to Tulsa on Sept. 10 in the first game between those teams. Kentucky is the 163rd different recorded opponent in NIU’s 119 years of college football.
LAST WEEK: NIU lost to Vanderbilt, 38-28, at Huskie Stadium as the Commodores scored the final 24 points of the game to overcome a 28-14 third-quarter deficit. Cole Tucker (2) and Kacper Rutkiewicz caught touchdown passes from quarterbacks Rocky Lombardi and Ethan Hampton (2) with Tucker weaving his way through the defense for a 70-yard score. In addition, Antario Brown scored on a 51-yard run for NIU. Althought the NIU quarterback duo completed 14 straight passes to start the game and the Huskies did not punt until the third quarter, the offense was stymied late and Vanderbilt took advantage of some short fields to earn the win.
LOOKING FOR A BONE: With a 22-21 win over Georgia Tech in the 2021 season-opener, NIU claimed its 17th “Boneyard Win,” which are ?wins over prominent opponents and teams from leagues now designated as “Power 5.” The Boneyard tradition began in 1983 with a win over Kansas and NIU has collected nine Boneyard Wins in the last 12 years. The Huskies have one Boneyard Win over a Southeastern Conference team with its 2003 victory over Alabama.
RANKED RECORD: NIU has won six of its previous 39 meetings versus teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 at the time of the game dating back to Nov. 23, 1968, a 28-12 loss to Ohio. The Huskies last faced a Top 25 team was a year ago when NIU lost at Michigan, 63-10 on Sept. 18, while NIU’s last win over a ranked team was on Nov. 3, 2015, a 32-27 win over No. 20 Toledo. The Huskies’ last win over a ranked non-conference foe was a 19-16 win over No. 21 Alabama on Sept. 20, 2003.
THE LAST TIME, TOP 10 EDITION: The last time the Huskies faced a Top 10 team was Sept. 19, 2015 when NIU took on No. 1 Ohio State in Ohio Stadium. In that game, NIU forced five turnovers and held OSU to 136 passing yards and a 2-of-13 day on third downs as the teams combined for 16 punts. NIU led 7-0 after Shawun Lurry’s interception on OSU’s first drive and played the Buckeyes to a 10-10 tie at halftime. The difference in the game proved to be a 41-yard interception return score by Ohio State late in the third quarter.
NIU AND THE SEC: Following last week’s loss to Vanderbilt, the Huskies are 1-12 all-time in the 13 games NIU has played versus seven Southeastern Conference teams. Kentucky is the Huskies’ eighth SEC opponent, leaving Georgia, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas A&M and LSU as the league teams NIU has not faced. The Huskies’ lone victory over an SEC opponent was a 19-16 upset victory over No. 21 Alabama on Sept. 20, 2003 in Tuscaloosa. NIU is 0-5 all-time versus Vanderbilt and has lost to Florida and Arkansas twice in its history. The Huskies have also dropped games at Auburn (2000), Ole Miss (1983) and Tennessee (2008).
SEC TWO-FER: NIU is playing consecutive games versus Southeastern Conference teams for the first time in school history with Saturday’s game at Kentucky on the heels of last week’s home game versus Vanderbilt. This year marks just the second time the Huskies have faced two SEC teams in a season. In 1994, NIU played Vanderbilt in Nashville on October 29 – a 17-16 loss – and two weeks later, lost to Arkansas in Fayetteville, 30-27.
BLUEGRASS BLUES: In eight games against teams from Kentucky all-time, the Huskies are 2-6, including an 0-4 mark in the Bluegrass State. The Huskies’ Kentucky history dates back to a pair of games at Eastern Kentucky in 1940 and 1948. NIU is 0-3 all-time versus Louisville with losses at Louisville in 1977 and 1996 and a home loss in 1995. The Huskies’ 2-2 home record includes wins over Murray State in 1990 and 2015, a 1969 loss to Western Kentucky and a home loss to Louisville in 1995.
LAND OF LINCOLN LEADERS: Since 2010, NIU is the winningest football program among the state of Illinois’ seven Division I (3 FBS & 4 FCS) football programs. During that time, the Huskies are 1-1 versus their fellow in-state FBS programs with a 2014 win over Northwestern and a 2010 loss at Illinois. NIU is 4-1 versus in-state FCS opponents over the last 12 seasons, including the opening week win over Eastern Illinois. With nine bowl games and eight MAC Championship game appearances in the last 12 years, NIU has played more games, 157, than any other school in the state.
Illinois’ Division I Schools Since 2010
AMONG THE BEST: NIU entered the 2022 season with 100 wins, one of just 19 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams and one of five teams from a non-autonomous (Group of 5) league to win 100 or more games since 2010. The Huskies are now 101-57 over the last 12 years for a .639 winning percentage. NIU’s 158 games played during that time ranks tied for seventh in the nation and are the most by any Group of 5 team.
HISTORY-MAKING: In 2021, NIU became the first team in FBS history to win its conference championship game one season after going winless. The Huskies went 0-6 in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, with three of the losses by one score. NIU’s nine-win improvement was the largest one-year jump in school history.
CHAMPS, AGAIN: With its 41-23 win over Kent State in the 2021 Rocket Mortgage MAC Championship game, NIU’s five MAC Championship game victories are more than any other current league member. NIU has made a record nine appearances in the game, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2021. NIU has won six Mid-American Conference titles all-time, as the Huskies’ first MAC crown came in 1983 under head coach Bill Mallory before the days of conference championship games.
CARDIAC CANINES CONTINUED: In four seasons under Thomas Hammock, 21 of the Huskies’ 35 games have been decided by one score (eight points) or less, including 10 of 14 games a year ago and the Huskies’ first two games in 2022. The Huskies are 8-4 in one score contests over the last two seasons and have an 11-10 mark in games decided by one score over the last four years. NIU is just as good when the games are closer with a 7-3 record in the last four seasons in games decided by three points or less, including a 4-0 record in those games a year ago.
HERE WE GO AGAIN: A year ago, the Huskies played in 10 games decided by eight points or less, and the first two games of 2022 followed suit. NIU defeated Eastern Illinois by seven points in the season opener, stopping the Panthers at the NIU 36-yard line as time expired. At Tulsa in game two, the Golden Hurricane scored with 58 seconds left and NIU’s final drive ended in an interception, giving TU the 38-35 win.
ONE OF A KIND: NIU linebacker Kyle Pugh is the first player in FBS history to play eight years of college football – although due to a series of different injuries, he has not actually played in all eight seasons. Pugh, who is earning his second master’s degree, signed with the Huskies in February 2015 and redshirted as a freshman. Pugh was an all-conference player in 2018 and 2020. He has been at NIU through three presidential administrations, four bowl games and three MAC Championship games and his freshmen teammates were in sixth grade when he arrived at NIU.
FINE FORM: Kyle Pugh made a season high 12 tackles versus Vanderbilt last week, his highest total since a 14-tackle effort versus Central Michigan in 2020. He has 23 stops on the year to rank third on the team. Versus Vanderbilt, Pugh surpassed 200 tackles for his career and has 210 tackles in 37 games. He has 12.5 career tackles for loss and three sacks in 26 starts. Pugh’s most successful season was 2018 when he made 106 tackles, 63 solo with five tackles for loss.
QB COMPLETIONS: Huskie quarterbacks Rocky Lombardi and Ethan Hampton combined to complete 14 straight passes to start the Vanderbilt game with Lombardi hitting all seven of his attempts for 79 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game in the second quarter. Hampton came on with approximately nine minutes to play in the second period and completed his first seven passes for 107 yards, including a short pass that Cole Tucker took 70 yards to the end zone. The first incompletion did not occur until 10:08 of the third quarter.
SO CLOSE: The Huskies’ 14 consecutive completions by quarterbacks Rocky Lombardi and Ethan Hampton fell just one short of the unofficial NIU record of 15 set by Dan Nicholson versus Southern Illinois on Sept. 8, 2007. The last player to complete 14 consecutive passes was Drew Hare versus Ball State on Oct. 10, 2015 during a game in which he completed 29-of-32 throws to set the NIU single game record for completion percentage.
KACPER KAN: Illinois State transfer Kacper Rutkiewicz continues to make a big impact for the Huskies as he caught his third touchdown pass of the season versus Vanderbilt on a four-yard reception from Ethan Hampton. Rutkiewicz’ first two catches as a Huskie went for touchdowns at Tulsa, including one of 30 yards. In 29 games over three seasons at ISU, Rutkiewicz had just one touchdown catch.
COLE HARD FACTS: A year ago, Trayvon Rudolph (51 catches), Tyrice Richie (44) and Cole Tucker (41) accounted for 66 percent of the Huskies’ 205 pass receptions. Richie graduated and Rudolph is out for the season due to injury, leaving Tucker. The senior established a new career high for single game receiving yards with 123 at Tulsa. Versus Vanderbilt, he took a short pass from Ethan Hampton on the third play of the third quarter and weaved his way to the end zone for a career long 70-yard touchdown and a 28-14 NIU lead. His two TD catches versus Vandy are also a career best. The DeKalb native and Huskie legacy, whose parents Brett and Cindy were NIU football and gymnastics student-athletes, respectively, has caught 125 passes for 1,676 yards in his career to move up to No. 16 on NIU’s all-time receiving yards list.
ALREADY THERE: Against Tulsa, freshman safety Muhammad Jammeh collected NIU’s third interception of the season, matching the Huskies’ SEASON total from a year ago. Jammeh added his first career interception to sophomore cornerback Eric Rogers’ two picks versus Eastern Illinois. Last season, NIU defensive backs had just one interception, with safety C.J. Brown scoring on a 26-yard interception return in the MAC Championship game.
GETTING THERE: The Huskie defense secured its fifth turnover of the season versus Vanderbilt with Jordan Gandy forcing a fumble that C.J. Brown picked up and returned 12 yards. Gandy was also involved in one of NIU’s two turnovers at Tulsa as he recovered a muffed punt. Add the three interceptions and NIU has five turnovers in 2022 for an average of 1.67 per game. Last season, NIU ranked 118th in the country with 12 turnovers (three INTs, nine fumble recoveries) gained in 14 game, 0.86 per game. The Huskies currently rank 17th nationally and lead the MAC in turnovers gained.
LONG DISTANCE BACK: NIU running back Antario Brown scored his eighth career rushing touchdown, and his third in three games this season, on a career long 51-yard run versus Vanderbilt. Brown had an eight-yard touchdown at Tulsa and a 35-yard rushing score versus Eastern Illinois. The average length of his eight TD runs is 33.75 yards. Six of Brown’s eight TDs have come on runs of at least 35 yards with the only exceptions a seven-yard touchdown run in the Cure Bowl game versus Coastal Carolina and the eight-yarder at Tulsa. Last year, he scored from 37 yards out at Toledo, on a 47-yard run at Buffalo and had TD runs of 44 and 41 yards versus Western Michigan in addition to the Cure Bowl score.
PASS PRO: The Huskie offensive line has picked up where it left off a year ago in terms of pass protection when NIU ranked second in the country (FBS) in fewest sacks allowed with just 10 sacks surrendered in 14 games. Through three games this season, NIU opponents have one sack and the Huskies are sixth nationally. The line features four returning starters in left tackle Marques Cox (33 starts), right guard Logan Zschernitz (25), right tackle Nolan Potter (23) and left guards J.J. Lippe (15) and John Champe (6), along with redshirt freshman Pete Nygra (3).
ON THE SAFE SIDE: Safety C.J. Brown, who earned first team All-MAC honors after leading NIU in tackles a year ago, led the Huskies with 13 tackles versus Vanderbilt and now ranks second on the team with 27 stops on the season. Brown also recovered a Vanderbilt fumble which he returned inside the 10-yard line before a penalty negated most of the return.
A PACK OF HUSKIES: A trio of players have started at NIU’s hybrid “huskie” position in 2022 with Jordan Hansen, Devin Lafayette and Louis Frye all earning starts while Jaden Dolphin has also manned the position this year. Most recently, Frye started versus Vanderbilt and recorded seven tackles. Lafayette had a season-high five stops at Tulsa while Dolphin made nine tackles in the opener against Eastern Illinois.
RAYNER SHINES: Sophomore linebacker Daveren Rayner leads NIU in tackles after making 25 tackles in the first two games and adding seven versus Vanderbilt. His 32 tackles in just three games are already a single season best as he totaled 29 tackles in eight games a year ago and 27 in the Huskies’ six-game season in 2020. Rayner became just the third Huskie to make 20 or more tackles in the first two games of a season since 2012. He joins current teammate Kyle Pugh (2017) and All-American defensive back Jimmie Ward (2012 and 2013) as the only Huskies to reach that early season mark in the last 10 years.
MR. ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD: After missing the last nine games of last season due to injury, sophomore cornerback Eric Rogers picked off Eastern Illinois quarterback Jonah O’Brien twice in the Huskies’ 34-27 win for the first INTs of his NIU career. The first gave NIU possession in Panthers’ territory and preceded Antario Brown’s 35-yard touchdown run, while the second came inside the Huskies’ five-yard line to stop an EIU drive. He earned MAC West Defensive Player of the Week honors.
SHEMAR-VELOUS DEBUT: Senior wide receiver Shemar Thornton, a transfer from Florida International University, had an impressive Huskie debut with six catches for 81 yards versus Eastern Illinois to lead NIU. Thornton averaged 13.5 yards per catch in the game with a 38-yard grab. He led NIU with five catches last week adn ranks second on the team with 13 receptions for 149 yards.
WELCOME BACK: Harrison Waylee, a third-year sophomore, made his return to the Huskie backfield after missing the last nine games of 2021 due to an injury suffered versus Eastern Michigan on Oct. 2. Waylee ran for 574 yards on 101 carries while starting the first five games last season and came into the 2022 season with 1,030 career yards on 208 carries. He has 152 yards on 36 carries through three games in 2022, giving him 1,182 career yards on 244 rushes, a 4.8 yards per carry average in 14 career games.
ON(SIDE) IT: NIU kicker John Richardson provided one of the key moments in NIU’s 17-point second-half comeback versus Tulsa when he recovered his own onside kick after the Huskies scored on the opening possession of the second half. Richardson dribbled the ball forward 11 yards, and pounced on it, allowing NIU to embark on a touchdown drive that pulled the Huskies within three points at 8:54 of the third quarter. It was the first onside kick recovery by NIU since Dec. 12, 2020 when Jyran Mitchell recovered a Richardson onside effort versus Eastern Michigan.
WORTH THE WAIT: Sixth-year senior tight end Liam Soraghan scored his first career touchdown versus Eastern Illinois on a 13-yard reception from his roommate, quarterback Rocky Lombardi and has three catches for 39 yards on the year. He came into the year with four career receptions for 24 yards.
NEW TO NIU: Five players who transferred to NIU this year have seen action so far this season with wide receiver Shemar Thornton (FIU) and defensive end Izayah Green-May (Wisconsin) both earning starting roles. Thornton led the Huskies in receiving with six catches for 81 yards versus EIU while fellow transfer receiver Kacper Rutkiewicz has three touchdown catches on the year. Green-May leads NIU in tackles for loss and earned his first sack at Tulsa. Quinn Urwiler (North Dakota) and Joey Rattin (Upper Iowa) have contributed on special teams. In all, eight players who started their collegiate careers elsewhere – including starting punter Tom Foley – are listed on the two-deep.
KICKING IT: NIU kicker John Richardson has scored 19 points on the year with 13 PATs and two field goals to put his career total at 234 points, 45 field goals and 99 PATs. He ranks sixth in most points scored kicking, is fifth in field goals made and sixth in PATs made. He entered the season first or tied for first on the Huskies’ career lists for field goal percentage (.796) and PAT percentage (1.000)
EARNED IT: Thomas Hammock has made a habit of rewarding players who walk-on to the Huskie program with scholarships. Since his arrival at NIU in 2019, 21 players have earned scholarships after arriving at NIU as walk-ons, including 19 players on the 2022 roster and eight – fully one third – of the Huskies starters on offense, defense or special teams. Of those 19, 15 are from the state of Illinois. The group joins a long and distinguished list of NIU players from the past that arrived as walk-ons including 2010 MAC MVP Chad Spann, who will be inducted into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame this fall, and recently retired NFL defensive back Rashaan Melvin. See the complete list of current former walk-ons in the column to the left.
LEAD DOGS: Six players were elected team captains for 2022 by their teammates. Quarterback Rocky Lombardi, linebacker Nick Rattin and defensive tackle James Ester (DT) were named captains for the second straight season. Linebacker and eighth-year senior Kyle Pugh, offensive tackle Nolan Potter and sophomore defensive back Jashon Prophete were also chosen.
NEW FACES: The Huskie coaching staff features two new faces in 2022. Co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Nick Benedetto arrived in March 2022 from Samford, where he was defensive coordinator for the past two seasons. Wide receivers coach Joseph Hawkins was an analyst at Duke after previously serving as wide receivers coach as Bryant University.
STAFF DIVERSITY: One of 14 African-American men to lead a FBS program, Thomas Hammock‘s staff also reflects the university’s and NIU Athletics’, commitment to diversity. Of the 10 full-time assistant coaches on staff, seven are minorities which ranks tied for second among all FBS schools. NIU’s staff includes six African-American coaches and one Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. The six African-American coaches are tied for second-most in FBS. Last year, NIU won the NCAA/MOAA Diversity and Inclusion Award for the second time. The top four (credit: the University of Colorado):
|Team||Minority Asst. Coaches||Breakdown|
|Hawai’i||8||4 P, 2 Asian/P, 1 AA, 1 Asian|
|Miami (Fla.)||8||5 AA, 2 H, 1 P|
|NIU||7||6 AA, 1 H/P|
(AA—African American, include bi-racial; H—Hispanic; ME—Middle Eastern; P—Polynesian, includes Pacific Islanders and native Hawaiians).
HALL OF FAMER: NIU head coach Thomas Hammock is one of three former Huskie football players who will be inducted into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame during Homecoming Weekend on Oct. 8. Hammock gained more than 2,400 rushing yards and was a two-time first team CoSIDA Academic All-American during his NIU playing career (1999-2002). He will be joined by fellow running back Chad Spann (2007-10) and quarterback Chandler Harnish (2008-11) in the 2022 Hall of Fame Class.
SCHOLAR-ATHLETE: Senior defensive end Michael Kennedy is NIU’s 2022 nominee for the William Campbell Trophy, presented by the National Football Foundation to the top football Scholar-Athlete in the country. Kennedy earned his undergraduate degree in management with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and social responsibility and is currently pursuing his MBA.
GRADS: NIU 2022 roster includes 13 players who have already earned their undergraduate degrees – either at NIU or from another institution, and one who already has two degrees. Huskie eighth-year senior Kyle Pugh has both an undergraduate and a graduate degree. Transfers Miles Joiner, Rocky Lombardi, Izayah Green-May, Kaymar Mimes and Shemar Thornton all came to NIU with degrees from their previous institutions. In addition to Pugh, Brett Bostad, Marques Cox, Jeffrey Griffin Jr., Michael Kennedy, Nolan Potter, Liam Soraghan and Cole Tucker are Huskie alumni.
YOUNGSTERS: A year ago, the Huskies won the MAC with the second-youngest roster in the country, including 71 players who graduated from high school in 2020 or 2021. Of the 120 players on this year’s roster, 59 are freshmen, including 28 who redshirted in 2021. Add the 14 “true” (second-year sophomores) and 73 players, or 60.8% of the roster, graduated high school in the past two years.
NEXT UP: The Huskies, the defending Mid-American Conference Champions, open MAC play at Ball State on October 1. The Battle for the Bronze Stalk game kicks off at 1 p.m. (CT) on ESPN+.
Credit: Source link