Football announces two new coaches

By Matt Stacionis

A week after the official singing day for high school football recruits, NIU keeps going.

NIU football head coach Joe Novak announced Monday that Frank Kurth and DeAndre Smith will join him as assistant coaches next year. Smith, last at Indiana State University, will take on the role as the running backs coach. Current running backs coach Matt Canada is now in charge of quarterbacks, a position vacated by Paul Alt, who is now the head coach at Otterbein College in Westerville, Oh.

Kurth, last at West Virginia, will take over the role of the offensive guards and centers. He replaces Jay Boulware who is now on staff at Arizona.

“We’re quite happy to bring Frank and DeAndre into our program,” Novak said. “It’s always good to bring in some new blood and some fresh ideas to the table. Frank has tremendous experience at a number of positions and, obviously, strong ties to the Mid-American Conference. DeAndre comes to our program with some solid option experience. These are two excellent, up-and-coming young coaches. Certainly we’ll miss Rocky and Jay and we wish them well.”

The duo will have a high standard right off the bat. Last year the NIU offense was the most productive in school history. The Huskies had three 1,000-yard producers (Justin McCareins, Chris Finlen and Thomas Hammock, and nearly a fourth (Michael Turner). The Huskies also are coming off of their first winning season since 1990 with a 6-5 record.

But it’s not like the pair will come in ill-prepared.

Kurth has coached with Novak at Indiana in 1992-95. He has also had stints in Toledo, Miami (Ohio) and Kent.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity at Northern Illinois,” he said. “Joe Novak and his staff have done a great job building up a program from ground zero and turning it into a Mid-American Conference contender. I’m kind of coming in at a midway point. The Mac is a great football league. I’m happy for the opportunity here.”

Smith comes in after running the option offensive system, and hopes he can adjust to the wing-T that the Huskies run. But he’s not really worried about it.

“This is a great chance for me to learn a different offense,” he said. “I’m extremely excited to work for Joe Novak. I’ve heard a lot of great things about him and the Huskie program. I’ve also heard I’ve inherited some great players in Thomas Hammock and Michael Turner.”