Former NIU football coach Joe Novak's final season as head coach in 2007 may have been one of his more unsuccessful years, posting a 2-10 record.
But it's who Novak recruited that year that ended up having a larger impact on a football program thriving three years later.
Initially, NIU's 2007 class was frowned upon. Rivals.com rated Novak's swan song class as the worst in the MAC, and one of the lowest in the nation overall.
"I had more confidence in my ability to evaluate talent than Rivals.com," Novak said.
Of Novak's 19 recruits in 2007, 14 of those players were key components to the Huskies' 2010 season, where they went 11-3. Offensively, the 2007 class featured the likes of starters http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/harnish_chandler00.html"> Chandler Harnish, http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/olson_trevor01.html"> Trevor Olson, http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/wedige_scott00.html"> Scott Wedige and http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/cox_landon01.html">Landon Cox. On the defensive side of the ball, http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/pirkle_dj00.html">D.J. Pirkle, http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/schiller_pat00.html"> Pat Schiller and http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/wilson_tracy00.html"> Tracy Wilson were also part of the 2007 class.
NIU tailback http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/spann_chad01.html">Chad Spann also was a walk-on that season.
"You're not going to get the five-star players at NIU," Novak said.
Novak listed three points in recruiting talent in his 12 years as NIU head coach.
"Evaluate them, develop them and keep them," Novak said.
Giving a player that year off to develop their bodies rather than throwing him into the fire at the ripe age of 18 would allow Novak to get the most of him.
Keeping players committed to the program for four or five years is absolutely essential, Novak said.
"You can't have a class of 20 and lose 12 of them," Novak said.
After Dave Doeren officially signed to become the next Huskies' head coach on Jan. 15, he had to play catchup with other MAC schools who had an advantage.
"You have to put in a class in a short amount of time in a limited amount of weekends," said Allen Trieu, Scout.com Midwest recruiting manager.
Trieu said other MAC schools have not necessarily put together recruiting classes that will stand over Doeren's first class.
According to Rivals.com, the Huskies landed three-star recruit Jamal Womble, who was visited by Huskies' linebackers coach Tom Matukewicz and committed to NIU earlier this month. Scouts.com also has the Hutchinson Community College and former North Carolina running back as a three-star recruit.
"I wouldn't say no teams are running away in the MAC, but they've done well," Trieu said.
Trieu credited Doeren with landing recruits outside of Illinois.
"They've filled the class out very well out-of-state," Trieu said.
Doeren will discuss the 2011 class at a pre-game reception that will be held before the NIU men's basketball team takes on Bowling Green at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday. The reception will take place in the South lobby of the Convocation Center.