Football kicks off spring practices


Marco Sotelo Avila

NIU redshirt sophomore defensive tackle James Ester and sophomore linebacker Daveren Rayner bring down Vanderbilt University freshman quarterback A.J. Swann for a sack in the third quarter of a game on Sept. 17 at Huskie Stadium. The Vanderbilt Commodores completed a comeback to beat NIU 38-28. (Marco Sotelo Avila | Northern Star)

By Joseph Segreti, Senior Sports Reporter

DeKALB – The NIU football team wrapped up its first week of spring drills with a full pad practice Sunday at the Chessick Practice Center. 

NIU’s defensive line group, consisting of senior defensive lineman James Ester and junior defensive end Raishein Thomas, practiced pressuring and tackling quarterbacks. 

NIU football head coach Thomas Hammock had high praise for the defensive line unit, saying they are a well experienced and physical group of players. 

“They [the defensive linemen] are physical, they’re strong and it starts up front,” Hammock said via NIU Athletics. “You notice the difference from a physicality standpoint of our defensive line. We have guys with a lot of experience – Ester, Taylor, O’Malley, [Cade] Haberman, Thomas, [Pierce] Oppong – [they are] guys that played a lot of football for us, multiple year starters and you can really tell.”

There were approximately 27 offensive skill players present at Sunday’s practice, 18 of which were new to NIU or underclassmen. One of the Huskies’ goals for the spring practices is to develop the younger group and prepare them for the fall season. 

The Huskies’ practice schedule also provides time for players to review film from previous practices so the team can correct mistakes in preparation for the fall season. 

NIU’s spring practice will conclude at noon on April 22 with the Spring Showcase at Huskie Stadium. The event will be open to fans.