It seemed like just another team meeting in the McCareins Room at the Yordon Center Saturday, August 16. Take a look at behind the scenes footage of the Huskies unveiling of their new uniforms on August 16, pranking the team before revealing them.
Veteran defensive coordinator Jay Niemann returns for his fourth season running the Northern Illinois University defense and coaching the safeties.
In 2012, the NIU defense held five opponents to nine points or less en route to a second straight Mid-American Conference title and a berth in the 2013 Orange Bowl. The Huskie defensive unit totaled 40 sacks in 2012, second all-time in NIU history.
Niemann's top pupil at safety, Jimmie Ward, wrapped up a stellar career at NIU when he was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2014 NFL Draft. The 30th overall pick, Ward led the Huskie in tackles in each of the last two years, recording 95 tackles and a career-high seven interceptions in 2013 and 104 stops with three interceptions in 2012.
In all, Niemann's defense has produced seven players who signed with NFL teams in the last three years. In addition to Ward, and Rashaan Melvin, Alan Baxter, Sean Progar, Ken Bishop, Joe Windsor and Pat Schiller have signed with NFL teams since 2011.
In his first season in DeKalb, Niemann took over a young Huskie defense and watched it mature as the 2011 campaign progressed. By week six, the Huskies turned in their best defensive game of the season statistically and in the 2011 MAC Championship game, the NIU defense flipped the script on Ohio in the second half, en route to a 23-20 win and the school's first MAC football title in 28 years.
Niemann came to NIU after spending three seasons as co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Hardin-Simmons University in Texas. During his tenure with the Cowboys, Niemann helped turn a defense that ranked last in the nation prior to his arrival into the No. 2 unit in the American Southwest Conference in 2009. He coached free safety Matt Warnish to All-American honors in 2008 and saw three of his defensive backs earn all-conference accolades from 2009-10.
A native of Avoca, Iowa, Niemann spent much of his 26-year coaching career in his home state, with stops at Simpson (Iowa) College, the University of Northern Iowa and Drake University. Niemann compiled a 32-29 record in his six seasons as head coach at Simpson (2002-07). He led the Storm to the 2003 NCAA playoffs while also serving as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach.
Niemann coached the secondary coach (1997, 2001), linebackers (1998-99) and filled the role of defensive coordinator (1999-2000) during his five seasons at Northern Iowa (1997-2001). The Panthers advanced to the semifinals of the 2001 NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (then Division I-AA) playoffs. One of Niemann's UNI pupils, cornerback Ty Talton, went on to play in the NFL.
Prior to his arrival at UNI, Niemann spent eight seasons at Drake. After serving as the defensive backs coach from 1989-94, he was promoted to defensive coordinator/assistant head coach in 1995. In his final three seasons, the Bulldog defense ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense, pass efficiency defense and total defense.
Niemann began his coaching career in 1985 at Western Washington where he coached the linebackers and special teams units while pursuing his master's degree. He accepted the graduate assistant position at the University of Washington, working with the Huskies linebackers and defensive backs from 1986-88, and coached under UW legends Don James and Jim Lambright.
A graduate of Iowa State, Niemann played football for the Cyclones from 1979-82. He earned his master's degree from Western Washington in 1988. Niemann and his wife, Lou Ann, have two sons, Ben and Nick.