Didesch, Fleck, Hammock, Thompson, Vincent, Willams named 2002 Huskie gridiron captians




DeKALB, IL --- The more the merrier. Strength in numbers. That's exactly how Northern Illinois University head football coach Joe Novak reacted upon hearing the results of team balloting for 2002 Huskie captains.

Six of them, America. Senior nose tackle Eric Didesch (East Dubuque / Dubuque, IA, Wahlert), senior flanker-back P. J. Fleck (Sugar Grove / Maple Park Kaneland), senior tailback Thomas Hammock (Fort Wayne, IN / Bishop Luers), senior cornerback Vince Thompson (Chicago / St. Rita), senior offensive tackle Tim Vincent (Galena), and senior linebacker Larry Williams (Chicago / Dunbar).

That's your 2002 Northern Illinois sextuplet captains roll call---three on offense and three on defense. Novak announced the team voting Monday (April 22) after the conclusion of spring practice.

"This is truly a great group of senior leaders," Novak said. "Our staff is really happy with this. This is voting by their peers. They know who the leaders of this bunch are. This group will lead us onto bigger and better things."

Indeed, the Huskies---who have been represented by quint-captains in 1982, 1999, 2000, and 2001---have not had more single-season football captains since 1979 when then Northern Illinois head coach Pat Culpepper anointed all nine of his seniors to share that leadership responsibility.

A 6-foot-4, 276-pound three-year letterman, Didesch ranks as an impact performer on a much-improved Huskie defensive line. No. 51 heads into his senior campaign with 72 tackles and 1,132 snaps in 30 career Northern Illinois appearances. In 2001, Didesch was credited with 27 stops, four tackles for 14 yards in losses, five QB pressures-hurries, and three pass deflections in eight starts at nose tackle.

The sticky-fingered Fleck owns 99 career receptions for 1,105 yards and five touchdowns in 29 appearances. The 5-foot-10, 177-pounder ranked No. 45 in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1-A receptions (5.4 per game average), No. 55 nationally in punt returns (9.6 yards per return), and No. 65 in major-college receiving yards (66.6 yards per game). No. 82 also rated in three Top 10 Mid-American Conference stats categories---No. 5 in punt returns, No. 6 in receptions, and No. 7 in receiving yards in 2001.

Hammock aims to be the first three-time 1,000-yard rusher in Northern Illinois history and a First-Team Academic All-America three-peat. The 5-8, 214-pound tailback ranks No. 7 on the all-time Huskie rushing list with 2,260 yards and needs (1) 740 more to join the school's 3,000-yard Club and (2) 1,486 yards to reset NIU's career rushing record (3,745 yards by FB Mark Kellar (1971-73). Hammock owns 11 career 100-yard or better rushing games and the Huskies have won eight of those. A punishing tackle-to-tackle runner, No. 28 has gained 1,367 of his last 2,179 yards after first contact.

Recently named on the preseason Bronko Nagurski Award watch list for the nation's top defensive player, Thompson rates among the leading pass defenders in the country. As a junior, the 5-10, 178-pounder finished No. 13 in major-college interceptions (0.50 per game) and No. 19 in NCAA "passes defended" (17), plus won First-Team All-MAC honors. No. 17 leads all active Northern Illinois players with 10 career "picks."

The Huskies' top graded and most experienced offensive line performer, Vincent owns three varsity letters, 27 starts, and 2,101 snaps in 29 career appearances during 1999-2001. Since his freshman season, he has bulked up 44 pounds and owns a 475-pound back squat. Last fall, he was selected Second-Team All-MAC by the league's coaches and led Northern Illinois with 13 "dominator" (pancake) blocks.

Williams leads all active Huskie tacklers with 304 stops and ranks No. 16 on the school's all-time hit list. The six-foot, 231-pounder made First-Team All-MAC as a sophomore and Honorable Mention All-Mid-Am as a junior. In 2001, he tied for the No. 6 spot in NCAA 1-A solo tackles with 92 and wound up No. 29 in overall stops with 123. Williams started last season on both the Butkus and Rotary Lombardi award watch lists and served as a quint-captain. Overall, No. 26 brings 15 double-digit tackle games, 32 starts, and 2,087 snaps in 33 appearances into his senior campaign.

(For further information, please contact Mike Korcek)




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