San Diego Chargers Make NIU's Larry English 16th Pick in NFL Draft
April 25, 2009
DeKALB, Ill. - Just hours after joining his 2008 Northern Illinois teammates on the Huskie Stadium sidelines for NIU's spring football scrimmage and at the Yordon Center, where the team was presented with their 2008 Independence Bowl rings, Huskie defensive great Larry English (Aurora, Ill./Marmion Academy) became the highest draft choice in school history when he was selected by the San Diego Chargers with the 16th pick in the National Football League draft.
English, a two-time winner of the Mid-American Conference Vern Smith Leadership Award and the 2008 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, got the call just before 5 p.m.
"I came up to my room in the house for a minute and then I went out in the hallway, saw my mom, then the phone rang and it was the Chargers saying they were going to take me," English said. "It's hard to explain, hard to put it fully into words how I feel. I'm extremely excited, I'm very happy and I'm extremely grateful. Today has been an excellent day. It was great to see everyone at NIU earlier today, to see the team and be able to say a few parting words. It kind of made the transition complete."
Northern Illinois' previous highest draft choice was split end John Spilis, who was chosen with the 64th pick in the third round of the 1969 draft by the Green Bay Packers. English is the first Huskie defensive player drafted since cornerback Brett Tucker in 1990, who was chosen by the Houston Oilers in the eighth round of the 1990 draft. However, English joins seven former Huskies in the NFL, including former Chargers and current Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner, offensive tackle Ryan Diem of the Indianapolis Colts, Chicago's Garrett Wolfe, Justin McCareins of the Tennessee Titans, New Orleans defensive tackle Hollis Thomas and Sam Hurd (WR) and Doug Free (OT) of the Dallas Cowboys.
English, who will fly to San Diego Sunday morning, said he can't wait to get started with his new team.
"I'm happy to be part of the organization," English said. "It's a great team and a great organization. I honestly had no idea where or when I was going to go. I'm relieved to know and get some clarity on my future. I think that system and style of defense is going to be great for me. I can't wait to get out there and start."
Northern Illinois head coach Jerry Kill, who was on his way to English's house to join the draft day celebration when the defensive end was selected, celebrated his first Huskie draftee.
"I just think there's nothing better in life than seeing someone feel so good," Kill said. "The fact that it happened to such a beautiful kid makes it even more special. The whole Northern Illinois Huskie family is sticking out our chest and [we] are just proud to have someone like Larry represent our university and our football program. It's great to see good things happen to good people. San Diego is getting a great football player and a great human being. I've said all along he's a `can't miss' guy. San Diego is getting someone very special on and off the field."
English's on-the-field accomplishments have been well-documented at Northern Illinois. He owns the Northern Illinois records for quarterback sacks in a single game (5), season (12) and career (31.5), as well as tackles for loss in a game (6), season (20) and career (63). He is one of only two players in Huskie history to be named a first team All-MAC player three times and ranks fifth all-time in the MAC in quarterback sacks and is tied for eighth in career tackles for loss. As a senior, English led all active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players in sacks (31.5), sack yardage (220) and tackles for loss yards (283), and ranked second in tackles for loss (63). While playing every game but one (50 total) for the Huskies from 2005-08 and starting 47, he compiled 237 tackles, 125 solo and was responsible for opponents' losing 283 yards and eight fumbles.
Chosen by his teammates as the Most Inspirational Player on the 2008 team and named NIU's 2008-09 Male Athlete of the Year, English earned his bachelor's degree from NIU in December 2008,
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