2008-09 SPRING WRAP - DAY FIVE
The school's highest draft pick in any sport and a bowl bid highlight Jerry Kill's first season as head coach of Northern Illinois University's football program. The Huskies got off to a slow start, dropping two close games to Minnesota and Western Michigan to open the season, but then went on to win five of their next six games, including a 38-7 victory over Toledo in NIU's Homecoming game. After finishing the regular season 6-6, the Huskies had to wait and see if they would get an invitation to a bowl game.
The invitation came from Shreveport, La. with an opportunity to take on Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl Dec. 28, 2008. The Huskies fell to the Bulldogs, 17-10, in a hard fought defensive struggle at Independence Stadium to finish the season 6-7 and 5-3 in the MAC.
Four months later, defensive end Larry English, the 2007 & 2008 Vern Smith Award winner and 2008 Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year and three-time First-Team All-MAC honoree, was selected 16th overall by the San Diego Chargers in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Northern Illinois' success wasn't just limited to the field. Five Huskies were selected to the Mid-American Conference's Academic All-MAC Team. Offensive tackle Jon Brost, quarterback Chandler Harnish, nose guard Mike Krause and wide receiver Matt Simon comprised NIU's Academic All-MAC players, while linebacker Pat Schiller made the Academic All-MAC honorable mention list. Brost became the first Huskie to be named to the Academic All-MAC team in three straight seasons.
Q&A ARCHIVE ONLINE
Love getting to know NIU student-athletes? Click to the new Q&A Archive at NIUHuskies.com to catch up on all the "Getting to know..." features you might have missed, like these tidbits:
NIUHuskies.com: What is your favorite activity outside of sports?
Me'co Brown (Football): I love watching highlight tapes of the NFL players who inspire me on the football field. I'm constantly watching players who I admire, such as Reggie Bush, Adrian Peterson, Devin Hester and Steve Smith.
NIUHuskies.com: Who's your hero?
Bryan Deutsch (Wrestling): My hero has always been Sir Edmund Hillary. He was the first one to climb Mt. Everest. When he died this year, under his name, for his occupation, it said "Adventurer." That's the coolest thing.
NIUHuskies.com: How did you get started in track and field?
Shoshanna Brown: My step mom used to do track in high school in Jamaica. She was like "You should go out for the track team" and I was like "No, I hate running." So, one day I just showed up for practice and never left.
NIUHuskies.com: Most embarrassing sports moment?
Tim Kay (Men's Golf): Freshman year at Ball State I hit two straight balls into the water in front of Coach and a bunch of people waiting to tee off.
ESPNU ADDED TO COMCAST, DIRECTV TIER ONE
ESPN, along with DIRECTV and Comcast, announced that ESPNU will now be available on those services tier one packages. ESPNU will be now available to more than 46 million viewers (about 1/6 of the people in America). For DIRECTV subscribers (like myself, incidentally) ESPNU HD will launch by the end of the first quarter of 2010.
This is great news for Huskie fans, with three games for the 2009 season (Eastern Michigan, Ball State, and Central Michigan) that could end up on ESPNU. This also means that football fans from across the country will get to know NIU even better!