Breaking Down the Huskies


Junior running back Cameron Stingily (42) stiff arms the Toledo defense during Wednesday night’s game.  NIU won, 35-17, taking the MAC West title. It will head to the MAC Championship game for the fourth season in a row.

By Frank Gogola

Sports Editor Frank Gogola breaks down the Huskies’ key players as the 2014 season opener approaches.

The Huskies open at home for the first time since 2011 when they host the Presbyterian Blue Hose 6 p.m. Thursday at Huskie Stadium.


Junior Matt McIntosh and sophomores Drew Hare and Anthony Maddie have battled to be Jordan Lynch’s successor since spring camp began, but no player has separated himself from the pack, as they’ve all improved. All three quarterbacks have dual-threat capabilities, with Hare more of a pure pocket passer, McIntosh fonder of the run and Maddie more balanced between the run and the throw. It’s highly likely one quarterback will be named the starter at some point this season, but only time will tell when. There is the likelihood all three will see reps against Presbyterian, and then the coaching staff could conceivably decide on a starter before the Huskies embark on a three-game road trip starting Sept. 6 at Northwestern.

Running Back: Akeem Daniels

Redshirt senior tailback Akeem Daniels highlights a loaded backfield in 2014. The 5-foot-7, 189-pound running back makes his return to the field after redshirting in 2013 while recovering from offseason foot surgery. Daniels will play an even larger role than expected as redshirt senior Cameron Stingily, who ran for 1,119 yards and nine touchdowns last season, is expected to miss the first four games this season. A versatile player, he’ll use his speed and agility to outrun the opposition while also catching passes out of the backfield and throwing blocks while picking up the blitz.

Wide Receiver: Da’Ron Brown

Redshirt senior wide receiver Da’Ron Brown took arguably the biggest step of any wide receiver last season. The 6-foot, 196-pound wideout snagged 46 passes for a team-best 752 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns last season en route to earning a nod to the 2013 All-MAC Second Team. Brown has continued to work on perfecting his route-running ability and should once again serve as the Huskies’ main deep threat. Additionally, he’ll be the target on many types of other throws: short, screen pass and over the middle.

Offensive Line: Tyler Loos

Redshirt senior left tackle Tyler Loos is healthy and prepared to anchor an offensive line that has a combined 101 starts since the beginning of the 2012 season. The 6-foot-5, 302-pound offensive lineman returns after missing the final five games last season with a left leg injury. Loos, who garnered first team All-MAC honors in 2013, will once again be tasked with protecting the quarterback’s blind side. He will attempt to complete his first full collegiate season in his final go-around after having his previous three seasons cut short by injuries.

Defensive Line: Jason Meehan

Senior defensive end Jason Meehan headlines an entirely new defensive line this season. The 6-foot-1, 252-pound defensive lineman has made a habit of invading the backfield, leading the Huskies and ranking fifth in the MAC with 6.5 sacks last season and finishing fourth on the team with seven tackles for loss. Meehan, a three-year letter winner, has improved his total tackles, sacks and tackles for loss numbers during each of his three seasons. He will help guide and lead a defensive line that follows the “next man up” philosophy.

Linebacker: Jamaal Bass

Redshirt senior outside linebacker Jamaal Bass simply has a nose for the ball. The 5-foot-10, 214-pound linebacker plays bigger than his size, placing second on the Huskies last season with 87 total tackles. Bass, who was selected to the 2013 All-MAC First Team, will likely miss the season opener against Presbyterian after being limited during fall camp and not participating in spring camp while recovering from offseason surgery. Look for Bass to continue to fly around the field while taking on more of a leadership role when he toes the turf.

Secondary: Dechane Durante

Redshirt senior free safety Dechane Durante has the chance to shine after being overshadowed by first-round pick Jimmie Ward the past three seasons. The 6-foot-2, 193-pound defensive back placed second on last year’s squad with three interceptions and sixth on the team with 55 total tackles. Durante, a 2013 All-MAC Third Team selection, will serve as the Huskies’ last line of defense in a backfield that is more green compared to the rest of the defense. Durante will be looked to as a leader of the secondary and should have his chances to make highlight plays throughout the season.

Special Teams: Tyler Wedel

Senior punter/kicker Tyler Wedel can and will do it all on special teams. The 5-foot-11, 192-pound specialist will handle kickoffs, punts and field goals for the Huskies to begin the season. Wedel, who handled all three phases of the kicking game in high school, was charged with kickoffs and punts last season, but he took on field goal duty when Mathew Sims went down on an injury. Wedel converted three of his five field goal attempts during his brief stint kicking field goals in 2013, hitting his longest field goal from 42 yards out and having two kicks blocked.