NIU football looks to build defense on signing day

By Brian Earle

Since being handed the keys to NIU football, head coach Rod Carey has been hard at work putting the finishing touches on his first recruiting class.

At signing day on Wednesday, Carey was excited to announce he and his staff had recruited 24 players for the Huskie football program.

The Huskies went out and signed 12 offensive players, 10 defensive players, one athlete and a specialist. One area NIU focused on a lot was the secondary, as it recruited six defensive backs.

“If you look at last year’s class, we had big guys,” Carey said. “And this year, we had to get more skill and we had to get more defensive backs. If you look at that position breakdown, six defensive backs in this class, and the next is three with any one position. We had to get going with some skill.”

Looking at the recruiting class as whole, this group is built on a bunch of players with speed and playmaking ability. Wide receiver Malik Mitchell from Georgia and athlete Aregeros Turner from Ohio highlight those playmakers.

“Overall, when you look at this class, it’s dominated by skill, which it should be,” Carey said. “The skill has power and speed and that’s what I love about it. Every guy that’s fast is powerful and every guy that’s powerful has good speed.”

As football comes off its Orange Bowl berth and second consecutive MAC Championship, Carey was looking to recruit winners.

“We have seven state champions in this class,” Carey said. “And that is a big deal to me. And we have one state runner-up, guys that know how to win. That is a big asset. And you can be as tall as you want, you can be as fast as you want, but guys that know how to win, not only on the football field but in the classroom and offseason workouts, that is invaluable to us.”

Out of the 24 recruits, 17 of them were local, coming from Illinois and Wisconsin, which stems from Carey’s philosophy.

“This is what we do,” Carey said. “This is what the formula has been long before me here. So, I’m not gonna go change it because there is great football right here. You take this little radius right around us, there is plenty of football for us to win a lot of games, and we just proved that this year. So there ain’t no reason to change that.”

Carey sees the incoming class having an immediate impact.

“Will some of them redshirt? Absolutely they will,” Carey said. “But we want them to prepare like they are going to play right away.”