Hungry to be a Huskie

By Tony Osborne

Growing up just down the road in Geneva, Pat Schiller’s desire to be a part of the NIU football program started at an early age.

“He really wanted to be a Huskie,” said NIU linebackers coach Tom Matukewicz. “Pat really embodies our program.”

Schiller’s love for the red and black started when he would come to Huskie Stadium and watch games as a youngster.

“I was able to come to the Maryland game in 2003, which was really awesome,” Schiller said.

Soon, it became evident that Schiller wanted to be a Huskie.

“Pat only got one Division I, 1A scholarship offer, and that was from Northern Illinois,” Matukewicz said.

After Schiller signed his scholarship, the wheels of his collegiate career went into motion.

“I knew NIU was definitely on the map to make a name for themselves,” Schiller said. “I knew it was the place for me, geographically and as a quality football program.”

As a freshman, Schiller played sparingly, recording 24 total tackles.

Going into his sophomore year, Schiller was named the starter at middle linebacker.

“I was very lucky to be able to start at middle linebacker my sophomore year, in which I got a lot of experience,” Schiller said.

That experience did not come without assistance, however.

“I got to know the ins-and-outs of Division I football,” Schiller said. “Playing with guys like Larry English, Alex Kube, Jake Coffman, Cory Hanson and Tim McCarthy. Guys like that paved the way for me and showed me the way. It’s definitely been a great experience.”

Schiller’s first year starting ended with 82 total tackles.

Unfortunately, Schiller’s first season as an upperclassman did not go as he planned.

Going into the end of his sophomore year, and prior to the spring game that season, Schiller tore his ACL, placing him on the injured reserve list.

The injury also required surgery.

“It was a humbling experience,” Schiller said. “It definitely made me not take this game for granted.”

Schiller set goals for an early return, hoping to contribute any way he could.

During the 2010 season, Schiller spent his time on the sidelines helping younger Huskies.

“It was rough … going from being a starter and then getting injured and having [a] pretty serious surgery,” Schiller said. “You kind of have to take on a different role, and I took the role of being an extra coach out on the field, helping the younger guys out with their feet and reads.”

While still not 100 percent, Schiller was able to pitch in his junior year, contributing in the nickel and heavy packages on NIU’s defense.

The dedication to come back from a devastating knee injury and his ability to be ready to play months later showed a lot about his demeanor, Matukewicz said.

“If you cut Pat Schiller open, he bleeds red and black,” said


It was evident that Schiller would make his comeback from the knee injury and have a breakout season his senior year.

With the absence of two starting linebackers, Devon Butler and Tyrone Clark, opportunity was knocking on Schiller’s door.

So far in his senior season, Schiller is having a career year. Through eight games, he’s recorded 69 tackles and two sacks.

With this season his last as a Huskie, nothing has been taken for granted for this hard hitting linebacker.

“I’m just grateful to be back on the field with my teammates,” Schiller said. “[Grateful] as a senior and being a leader on the field.”