All eyes on Wolfe

By Frank Rusnak

An injury suffered at a fight outside of Husky Grill and Sports Bar early Sunday morning is the reason NIU running back Garrett Wolfe did not play in Tuesday’s 31-17 loss to Toledo.

Wolfe, whose 18 touchdowns tie the national lead, is a question mark for the Nov. 20 game at Eastern Michigan and isn’t expected to practice with the team anytime soon, NIU coach Joe Novak said Thursday.

Early Sunday morning, NIU police saw a fight outside of Husky’s, 1205 W. Lincoln Highway, and arrested reserve running back, senior Robert Wallace for fighting in the city.

A former NIU football recruit and a walk-on player were working security for Husky’s and were also arrested Sunday outside of Husky’s.

Wolfe was punched in the eye while trying to break up the fight, Novak said.

“If Garrett is guilty of anything, then it would be a lack of good judgment,” Novak said in a press release. “Basically, he was trying to be a peacemaker in a fight and got sucker-punched. While Garrett did not violate any team rules, it was disappointing that he made such a mistake. We left it up to the team captains and they expressed great confidence in Garrett’s character. Our captains told me Garrett would be the last person to be involved in a fight.”

Novak said he thought about suspending Wolfe for the Toledo game before he knew all the details. Team doctors then told Novak that Wolfe couldn’t play because of the injury.

His right eye has traumatized blood vessels and possible bleeding inside the eyeball, a condition called hyphema.

“I feel fine,” said Wolfe on Thursday. “I felt like I could’ve played on Tuesday. But they looked in the back of the eye and didn’t want to take any chance of my eye getting injured more seriously. I’m just waiting for the doctor to give me the OK.”

Wallace, who has 11 carries for 38 yards this season, is suspended but not kicked off the team and also wasn’t at Tuesday’s game.

“As with any kid when they get arrested, they are suspended until it gets resolved,” said Novak, who added Wallace would not travel with the team to Eastern Michigan.

“He wasn’t trying to fight,” Wolfe said of Wallace. “He was trying to protect me after he saw I got hit.”

Charnzie Carey, a 2003 recruit out of Chicago Manley, was charged with obstructing a peace officer.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Carey was a partial academic qualifier when he first came to NIU and never practiced or played on the team, Novak said.

Brandon Hawkins, a senior walk-on last season, was charged with resisting a peace officer.

“The whole situation got played up like Charnzie and Brandon are the victims, but they were working security for us,” Husky’s manager Brian Jackson said, “Garrett Wolfe did not get hit on Husky’s property.”

An NIU football team rule states players cannot go to bars during the season, except establishments that serve food. There are exceptions to the rule made by Novak.

“What I’ve done is. Amnesia is off limits,” said Novak, about the former establishment now turned into Bar One. “Fattys, The Barn, Husky’s, even places like Applebees and Friday’s serve alcohol, but they serve food too. I don’t have a problem with them going there as long as they are not drinking.”

Husky’s was not on that list, but has since been added by Novak after this weekend’s incidents.