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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Huskies show progress at annual Spring Showcase

NIU closes 15-practice spring schedule
Totus Tuus Keely
Redshirt junior quarterback Ethan Hampton (2) throws the ball during the Spring Showcase. Besides the Victor E. Fan Fest, fans tailgated in the various fields and parking lots near the Stadium. (Totus Tuus Keely | Northern Star)

The NIU football team concluded its spring practices Saturday with its annual Spring Showcase at Huskie Stadium, spending most of its two-hour afternoon workout in 11-on-11 scrimmage situations.

NIU football head coach Thomas Hammock felt his team improved through each of the team’s 15 spring practices while staying healthy.

“I think our players took full advantage of the opportunity,” Hammock said. “I thought we got better each and every single day. We have a lot of guys that have played a lot of football. We wanted to make sure we got them some work and most importantly, keep them healthy, which we did. We’ll go into the summer with a full and strong team, a team that is looking to improve and play our best football.”


With NIU’s quarterback competition still underway, Saturday’s practice primarily featured redshirt juniors Ethan Hampton, Jalen Macon and redshirt freshman Josh Holst under center.

“I think we got three guys we can win with, and it’s a matter of finding the guy that gives us the best chance to win every single game we play,” Hammock said.

Hampton, the veteran of the group, took snaps with the first team and opened practice with a flea-flicker pass to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Cam Thompson for about 60 yards. The drive later stalled in the red zone.

Holst quarterbacked both of the offense’s two scoring drives. In his first series under center, Holst marched the offense down the field on a 75-yard scoring drive. Holst completed an over-the-shoulder pass to senior wide receiver Andrew McElroy to put the offense inside the 10-yard line. Holst and McElroy connected again the very next play, with the latter making a toe-tapping touchdown grab in the back of the end zone.

“In a crowded room, you have to make all the plays that come your way, so being able to do that was really good,” McElroy said. “Aand especially as a transfer, just being able to be consistent and show my name, that’s always important.”

The offense closed 11-on-11s with a drive ended by senior fullback Brock Lampe’s one-yard rumble into the end zone for the score.


Outside of the two touchdowns and occasional chunk plays, the defense made it clear it hasn’t lost a step from its top-25 status a season ago, recording multiple pass breakups, making fourth-down stoppages and scoring twice off turnovers.

Redshirt junior safeties Cyrus McGarrell and Muhammed Jammeh teamed up for scoop-and-score, with McGarrell forcing the fumble that Jammeh returned 54 yards for a touchdown. Later in the showcase, senior defensive back Jashon Prophete intercepted Hampton’s final pass of the day and returned it for a pick-six.


Hammock announced the team’s spring awards after the practice, with senior running back Antario Brown earning offensive MVP honors. Senior defensive tackle Devonte O’Malley received the defensive MVP honor and redshirt senior linebacker Quinn Urwiler was named special teams MVP. 

The Most Improved Player awards were issued to McGarrell on defense, redshirt senior wide receiver Trayvon Rudolph on offense and freshman safety Ethan Tierney on special teams.


With NIU’s spring schedule now over and the final week of classes set to begin Monday, players will next report for summer workouts on May 28.

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