Critics: NIU will improve on field

By Todd McMahon

A common sight this time of year is the magazine rack filled with numerous publications promoting a new college football season.

So without further ado, here’s a look at what a few of the national magazines are saying about this year’s NIU Huskies:

‘In Pro Football Weekly’s College Preview ’92, the Huskies are ranked 13th out of the 15 Division I-A independents—ahead of 1992 opponents Army and Arkansas State.

“There’s sufficient skilled-position talent offensively to believe the Huskies will win a few,” PFW says.

PFW also provides team grades for each of the teams at eight different positions. The Huskies received ‘average’ grades (3.0 out of 5.0) across the board.

Sophomore linebacker Gerald Nickelberry received recognition by being named second-team defense on the All-Independent preseason team.

‘In the Sporting News’ College Football 1992 Yearbook, NIU is ranked ninth out of the 15 independents—ahead of Southwestern Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, Army and Arkansas State.

“If Scott Crabtree … or senior Rob Rugai can work some magic at quarterback, the Huskies’ offense might be worth watching,” TSN says.

“The receiving corps should be lethal. Junior running back LeShon Johnson … is a breakaway threat.”

And what’t the key to the Huskies’ success this year? “Keeping trainer Mike Braid as lonely as a Maytag repairman. Last season, the Huskies used 10 players at tailback alone.”

In its preseason honors, TSN lists Johnson as Independent Newcomer of the Year on offense and Rob Wagner on second-team defense for the independents.

‘Street & Smith’s says, “Northern Illinois will be hard pressed to improve on last year’s 2-9 mark. The Huskies, though, are bringing in 10 junior college transfers who could have an impact.

“Defense obviously is a top priority since the Huskies gave up 33 points and 454 yards per game in 1991.”

‘Finally, Football News ranks the Division I teams in its Sept. 8 issue and has NIU at No. 88—one notch ahead of Oregon State, who is led by former NIU head coach Jerry Pettibone.

Southwestern Louisiana is No. 95; Army, No. 98 and Arkansas State, No. 107. Saturday’s opponent, Illinois, comes in at No. 45.