NIUHuskies.com, the official online home for Northern Illinois Athletics, is pleased to announce the launch of a new web-based blog, "Huskie Happenings." The section includes links to a daily newsstand, online chats, feature stories and interviews, game-day and multimedia information, promotions, calendars and much more. We hope this will become your first and last stop everyday for all the information you crave about Huskie Athletics.
The "Huskie Happenings" addition will be more interactive with visitors of NIUHuskies.com. For that to work, this must be a a two-way street, or even one of those really confusing five-way stoplights. That means we need to hear from you. I know you're out there, Mr. or Ms. Fan Who Wants to Be Heard. So step up, and e-mail us at email@example.com.
Poor Adam Weber (8) doesn't know what's coming. Neither does the NFL.
Representatives from 15 National Football League teams were on hand in DeKalb and put 16 aspiring players - nine 2008 Huskie seniors, former NIU players Brandon Davis and Chris Nendick and five from other schools - through their paces Friday as Northern Illinois held "Pro Day".
Of course, most of the scouts' attention was focused on defensive end Larry English, the MAC two-time Vern Smith Leadership Award winner and 2008 Defensive Player of the Year. Projected as a first-day pick, English is likely to become the highest draft choice in school history.
After excelling at Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala. and performing well at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis earlier this month, English has spent the last couple of weeks training in Arizona, where he specifically focused on improving his time in the 40 yard dash.
That training appeared to pay off as English's 40 time Friday came in somewhere between 4.62 and 4.75 - depending on whose stopwatch you counted. NIU Director of Sports Performance Eric Klein clocked English in 4.70. In addition, he improved his broad jump from his combine mark to 9-7 and ran the 60-yard shuttle, a drill he did not do in Indianapolis. English also ran through position drills for approximately 30 minutes - working both linebacker and defensive end.
Pro Day marked a third important milestone in English's NFL "job interview" which will not end until the NFL Draft on April 25-26. Since earning his degree from Northern Illinois and closing out his Huskie career at the Independence Bowl, English has been in training, focusing on the Senior Bowl, then the Combine, and finally today's workout. He has trained in Atlanta and in Arizona but now plans to spend some quality time in Chicagoland, including his hometown of Aurora and in DeKalb.
"This [process] has been unlike anything I've ever experienced," English said of the last three months. "I've tried to enjoy it, take advantage of the opportunity and relish the moment. Obviously there's a little bit of uncertainty right now and I just try to work on the things I can control which is my workouts and my interviews. I want to show who I am as a person and as a player. A lot of teams have showed a lot of interest, but you never know."
English was not the only Huskie whose future was impacted Friday. Players in attendance included Brandon Beal, Matt Simon, Britt Davis, Melvin Rice, Bradley Pruitt, Chase Carter, Alex Krutsch and Andy Dittbenner, along with former Huskies Brandon Davis and Chris Nendick. With the workout moved to the DeKalb Recreation Center due to the cold conditions, it was not a day for the kickers, who were unable to show what they could do. But the rest of the group, ran, jumped, lifted and worked out for any scout who asked.
Simon, for one, came in nervous but finished the day happy.
"I had an absolute blast," Simon said. "I got almost zero sleep last night thinking about it. It was a nerve-wracking experience, to say the least. We all put in so much work for it to come down to one day. I'm happy with my results and what I got out of it. I'm happy with it, my agent has already been contacted by some of the teams here today."
NFL teams represented at Friday's workout were the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Bucs and San Francisco 49ers.
It's a jam-packed day over at Huskie Stadium and the Yordon Center, as it's NIU Pro Day. For those of you who don't know, that's the day many of the 2008 seniors work out for NFL scouts. Essentially, it's a job interview for football players. Among those donning the proverbial suit and tie are Larry English, Britt Davis, Matt Simon, Melvin Rice, Andy Dittbenner, Jon Brost and others.
After Pro Day wraps up, the current Huskies will have their third of 15 spring practices. Coach Kill and his team will get going at 6:20, and the entire practice is OPEN to the public, so you are more than welcome to come out and watch (but not participate... sorry). Coach Kill's philosophy on these open practices is something I really admire. I'm paraphrasing a bit, but he says this is not "his" football team, but Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, and the Huskie Nation's football team, and it's important that the people of those institutions be a part of it.
This is YOUR football team. OUR football team. Let's do everything we can to support it, and make it better.
A lot was written about NIU Football yesterday. Here's a rundown. If there is anything missing, please shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Sahly had this to say about the 2009 football schedule that was announced yesterday, and also wrote a feature on local product Jason Schepler. Those guys are taking a page from Brad Hoey's book, and doing some video as well. Here is John's interview with one of the more colorful characters on the team, Jason Onyebuagu.
With even more football news, this bit from the Northern Star confirms that one of the last major steps to new turf at Huskie Stadium has been taken. Also, Jerry Burnes of the Star talks pro day in this article.
Inside Huskie Sports airs tonight on Comcast SportsNet Chicago at 5 p.m. If you miss it there (how dare you!) you can catch every episode for FREE through Huskie All-Access (you do have to take three minutes to sign-up).
The headline says it all. Come check out today's softball doubleheader against Akron, and get free pizza at the Papa John's Tailgate. Admission is free, and the pizza is free. To get ready, check out Andrea Bradley's Northern Star preview and the advance from NIUHuskies.com. Extra credit to anyone that hits softball, the Papa John's Tailgate, baseball at 3:05 p.m., and football practice at 6:20 p.m.
Though there isn't any free pizza, baseball is hosting the opener of a three-game home series against Bowling Green. The Huskies swept their last MAC opponent, Buffalo (they really grabbed the Bulls by the horns... get it? the Bulls, Buffalo. I know, clever.) It's always free baseball over at Ralph McKinzie Field, so bring a blanket and come watch the Huskies ground the Falcons.
if you can't make it to today's games, be sure to follow along with GameTracker.
Softball Game One
Softball Game Two
You can track the NIU men's golf team with live stats from the Spring Break Championships . The Huskies are paired with Iowa and Wisconsin in Boca Raton, Fla. Check out the weekend preview to get you warmed up.