Donna Turner: August 2011 Archives


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With Northern Illinois 2011 football season opener on Sept. 3 versus Army just a little more than a week away, the Huskies have finalized the promotions surrounding the first home opener at Huskie Stadium since 2003.

All fans are being encouraged to wear their Huskie Red as the game is the "Red Sea" promotion as NIU looks to "swamp" the Black Knights of Army (who have sold out of their allotment of tickets for this game, by the way).  To help the cause, Northern Illinois will pass out red "We Are Huskies" T-shirts to fans on both the East and West sides of the stadium. In addition, the Thunderstix (yes, they are back) color of the day is red.

As usual, the home opening game has been designated as Biz-Ag Day and the FanFest area on the West Side of the stadium will include a pre-game petting zoo and tractors on display, courtesy of the DeKalb County Farm Bureau. 

Fans will want to leave the tailgate areas and get to their seats in time to see the coin toss versus Army as Marine Corps veteran and former Northern Illinois defensive end Jake Coffman will be on hand as part of the Wounded Warrior Project.  Be in the stadium early to welcome Jake back to Huskie Stadium!

Finally, at the conclusion of the game, stick around for FIREWORKS!  What a great way to help celebrate Labor Day weekend and a Huskie victory!

Tickets to the Army game, as well as all single games for the 2011 season, are on sale now.  Click on the Buy Tickets button on or at

Don't miss one of the most exciting games of the season - the 2011 Huskie football season opener on September 3.  Kickoff is at 6 p.m., don't be late!

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Former Northern Illinois safety Tracy Wilson was signed to a free agent contract by the New York Jets Wednesday, the team announced.  Wilson, who graduated from NIU in December and elected to skip his senior season at NIU, had entered his name in the supplemental draft but was not selected.  Shortly after that, Wilson was signed by the Jets.

Wilson played in just eight games for Northern Illinois last year and made 35 tackles with two fumble recoveries, an interception and half a tackle for loss.  He was injured early in the year versus Illinois and despite returning to action later in the year, did not play at 100 percent.

Wilson was the fourth free agent signing off the 2010 Huskie team.  Tailback Chad Spann remains on the Indianapolis Colts' preseason roster while cornerback Chris Smith and wide receiver Landon Cox were released by the Rams and Bengals, respectively.


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The Associated Press preseason Top 25 college football poll was released today and Northern Illinois earned four votes from the nation's writers and is tied for 41st in the rankings.  NIU was one of just 48 teams in the country to receive even one vote and the Huskies were the only Mid-American Conference squad on the list. The Huskies also received more votes than any other team in the state. 

In 2010, NIU was ranked as high as No. 24 (AP) and No. 23 (USA Today Coaches) after entering the polls in the "Receiving Votes" category in Week 9.  The Huskies closed out 2010 29th in the AP poll and 26th in the USA Today Coaches' listing. 

Northern Illinois also earned four votes in the preseason USA Today Coaches poll.

To see the complete polls, click here.


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It was a star-studded day at Northern Illinois' morning football practice on Wednesday as not one, but two, College Football Hall of Famers were in attendance.  George Bork, who still owns 18 Northern Illinois passing records from his days' as the NIU signal-caller from 1960-63, was at practice with his wife Merlin and granddaughter Addison (5).  The Borks were especially interested to see current NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish again as Harnish has a chance to break many of Bork's 47-year-old passing records. 

"I told [Chandler] it would be OK [if he broke the records]," Bork said with a smile. "I've had them long enough."

Following practice, Harnish, who needs 1,058 passing yards in 2011 to break Bork's career passing yardage mark, and the rest of the quarterbacks came over to greet the NIU great, who was a two-time consensus All-American and led the Huskies to the 1963 National Championship with a perfect 10-0-0 record.  Bork also visited with NIU offensive coordinator Matt Canada and assistant coach Tom Matukewicz.

Coincidentally, Wednesday was also the day that Tom Beck, one of the finest two-way players in NIU football history, chose to bring his grandson, Tommy, out to see the Huskies.  Beck, who played for the Huskies from 1959-61 and was a second-team All-American at halfback, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.  After his playing days, he went on to a very successful career as a college coach.

Beck and Tommy had the chance to visit with NIU safety Tommy Davis during practice.  The Huskies' safety told Beck he recognized his name from his locker, which carries Beck's name. Talk about a coincidence!

Both Bork and Beck, who were welcomed to practice in front of the team by NIU Head Coach Dave Doeren, said they remain Huskies, follow the team and look forward to the 2011 season.

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Sam Hurd smaller.jpgExcellent story in today's Northwest Herald (also picked up in sister paper to Herald, the DeKalb Daily Chronicle) about former Northern Illinois receiving great Sam Hurd.  Hurd is currently making a name for himself at Chicago Bears' training camp after spending the past five years with the Dallas Cowboys in his native Texas. 

In the story, Hurd talks about Illinois as his "second home" and says that his experience at NIU made him better as a man and as a football player.

Hurd ranks as one of the top receivers all-time at NIU with his 143 catches for 2,322 yards and 21 TDs.  In 2005, he caught 65 passes for 1,074 yards and 24 catches, including setting the Huskies' single game record for receiving yards versus Central Michigan with 266 on 12 catches.

We hope to see Sam back at an NIU game this fall!


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Inside Huskie Stadium, the Northern Illinois football team is hard at work getting ready for the 2011 season, which opens Sept. 3 with a home game versus Army.  If you haven't been reading our series of preseason position previews, and watching the accompanying video on Huskies' All-Access, you have some catching up to do!

There is also action on the outside of Huskie Stadium as the beams on the West Side are being repainted for the first time in several years.  First, all of the beams were power washed and as of Monday, the painting was about halfway done.  The difference is clear in the photo above.

The team is ready, the stadium is almost about you?  Have you bought your season tickets yet?  There is still time!   Click here for all the information and to purchase tickets! 


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With Northern Illinois playing its season opener at Huskie Stadium for the first time since 2003 (a certain victory over No. 15 Maryland that some may recall), the NIU Ticket Office has worked hard to make sure Huskie fans have their season tickets in hand well before the Huskies kick off 2011 versus Army on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 6 p.m.

Today, the Ticket Office reports that all current season ticket orders have been mailed and everyone who has ordered tickets so far should have received, or be receiving, their season tickets in the next few days.  This includes all mini-plan orders. 

In addition, if you ordered home single game tickets, the Ticket Office is caught up on those as well as those orders have been mailed.  Of course, Soldier Field Showdown II tickets were mailed as far back as June and continue to be sent out as those orders are received.

Northern Illinois has NOT received all of its tickets for its 2011 away games yet so if you ordered tickets to the Kansas, Central Michigan, or any away game through us, you will be receiving those separately soon.  The ticket office hopes to have all of those tickets in DeKalb so that they can be mailed beginning next week.

While season tickets in the past have been available for pick-up at the preseason NIU Family Fun Day, the turnaround time between this year's Family Fun Day on Saturday, August 20 and the date of the home opener was too tight to hold the tickets at NIU. 

Don't worry, Huskie fans, there will still be a Family Fun Day with the cheerleaders, Victor E. Huskie, a football scrimmage, autographs, posters, schedule cards and more.  The football team will take the field for the scrimmage at 11:35 a.m. and all are invited to attend.  More details on Family Fun Day will be available soon on, but for now, look for your tickets coming to a mailbox near you.

And a reminder, if you HAVEN'T ordered your season, single game or Soldier Field Showdown II tickets yet, there is STILL time!  Order online through the Tickets link at or call us at 815-753-1923.

September 3 is just around the corner!  All season tickets ordered after August 22 will have to be picked up at the NIU Athletics Ticket Office in the Convocation Center or at Will Call on game day.  Don't wait until the last minute.  Get your tickets today.

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