Top 5 Huskies to watch


Top 5 Huskies to watch

By Michael Urbanec

Football season is on the horizon and the Huskies will have to continue the tradition of impressive Mid-American Conference play if they want to land themselves in a bowl game.

5. D.J. Brown

The Huskies have their two leading receivers from last season returning in senior D.J. Brown and junior Spencer Tears. Brown had 42 receptions and caught three touchdowns last season. He also rushed for 108 yards on 22 attempts for an impressive 4.9 yards per carry. Tears caught 43 passes for 528 yards and four touchdowns, and the Huskie offensive play will hinge on their continued improvement. Especially with the losses of tight end Shane Wimann and receivers Chad Beebe and Christian Blake, these two will have to pick up the slack and give sophomore quarterback Marcus Childers good targets.

4. Josh Corcoran

If senior Josh Corcoran can improve on a solid 2017 season, the Huskies will have two forces on their defensive line. Unstoppable All-American junior Sutton Smith will force teams to double him, and Corcoran can use this game plan to his advantage. Corcoran had 8.5 tackles for loss last season and 34 total tackles. If he can pump up those numbers, it will take pressure off Smith and the rest of the defense.

3. Max Scharping

Academic and pre-season All-American senior Max Scharping leads a returning offensive line. The importance of experienced protection with interpersonal chemistry cannot be understated, and working as a group to protect Childers will project a strong Huskie offense forward. Scharping played 425 snaps last season and allowed a defender through just five times.

2. Sutton Smith

Smith was the first consensus All-American since 1993 for NIU last season, and starts the season with sky-high expectations. He had 63 tackles and an NCAA-leading 29.5 tackles for a loss last season to go with three forced fumbles, two of those leading to touchdowns. The 2017 MAC Defensive Player of the Year will lead a strong NIU defense into what looks to be a promising season.

1. Marcus Childers

Strong and consistent quarterback plays from Childers will be just as important as anything the defense can do. In recent years, the Huskies have suffered from a plague of injuries and inconsistent play from their field generals.

Childers provided a spark as a true freshman last season, leading two comeback victories and amassing 2147 total yards. Childers is a dual threat who ran for five touchdowns and threw for 16 after senior Ryan Graham went down with an injury.

After dealing with a drought at the quarterback position since the exit of former Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch in 2013, the Huskies seem to finally have a long term answer for the position. Defense is the name of the game, but solid quarterback play from Childers will solidify NIU as the team to watch in the MAC.