Aug. 8, 2009
DeKALB, Ill. - On the field again barely 12 hours after the conclusion of Friday night's practice, the Northern Illinois Huskies practiced for two-plus hours Saturday morning at Huskie Stadium. After two straight evening practices to start training camp, the Huskies were exposed to hot and humid conditions as they donned shoulder pads for the first time this preseason.
"To be honest with you, I'm glad we got some heat because you never know what's going to happen on Sept. 5 [for the season opener at Wisconsin]," said NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill. "The temperature affected us today, for sure, and you have to see who handles it when it gets tough out there."
Kill said the Huskies are going through an intense learning process in these first several days of camp.
"Right now we are trying to throw everything at them in the first five or six days, and it's not going to look too good at first," Kill said. "We're trying to find out who are going to be the guys you rely on every day. Who is going to step up and be consistent."
While the Huskie youngsters are still learning the plays, the athletic ability of his 2009 recruiting class has stood out to the coaching staff.
"One thing we're seeing is that although we're going to be younger defensively, this recruiting class is very athletic and that is very noticeable," Kill said. "The guys we recruited on defense, just wait two or three years down the road. We've got a lot we're throwing at them now, but we are working for the future."
Kill specifically mentioned three of the Huskies' new linebackers - Tyrone Clark, Jordan Delegal and Devon Butler - along with cornerbacks Tommy Davis and Kiaree Daniels, as players that caught his attention on Saturday. In addition, he marveled at the physical changes made by nose guard D.J. Pirkle.
is a totally different looking kid," he said.
And while the freshmen have impressed athletically, Kill knows that they still have a long way to go.
"The hardest thing for freshmen to adjust to is the speed of the game," Kill said.
The Huskies have 37 new players on the 2009 roster and the coaches again spent 20-30 minutes at the end of practice working solely with the younger players while the veterans stretched.
Northern Illinois returns to the practice fields Sunday morning where high temperatures are again expected.
Tickets for the 2009 Northern Illinois season are on sale now at the value price of just $90 for all six games. Discounts are available for NIU Faculty and Staff, NIU Alumni Association and Varsity Club members and senior citizens. A three-game "mini-plan" and single game tickets are also on sale. Tickets can be ordered at www.niuhuskies.com, by calling 815-752-6800 or in person at the Athletics Ticket Office in the NIU Convocation Center.
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