Aug. 10, 2012
Over the next two weeks, NIUHuskies.com will preview every position on the 2012 Northern Illinois football team, beginning today with the wide receivers. In addition, sign up for Huskies All-Access to see a video breakdown of every position with interviews and practice highlights. The video will be available within 24 hours after the article is posted. Monday's position group: the defensive backs.
Click here to view the video via Huskie All-Access
|HUSKIE ALL-ACCESS HIGHLIGHTS
DeKALB, Ill. - Under first-year head coach Dave Doeren, the Northern Illinois wide receiver corps saw a significant rise in production from 2010 to 2011, going from 208 catches for 2,655 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2010 to 253 receptions for 3,386 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2011. Entering Doeren's second year, the Huskie wide outs are looking to keep the upward trend going behind first-year Wide Receivers Coach Frisman Jackson, a former Huskie with NFL experience at the position.
"He's a guy that played at the highest level," said Doeren of Jackson. "He had a great career in college and was able to stay in the league for four seasons and play. He has a great understanding of the game, having played quarterback and receiver in college. For our guys that strive to get to the next level, he brings the ability to show guys how they can get there."
Jackson, who was a member of the Cleveland Browns from 2002-06 and a Huskie from 1997-99, comes back to NIU after holding the same position for Akron the past two seasons. Not only is he happy to be back in DeKalb, he likes the group of receivers he has to work with.
"First and foremost, I'm excited to be back," said Jackson. "I have a great group of players. Things are totally different than they were when I was here 15 years ago, which is very exciting for me and my family. I'm going to try to teach these guys how it was when I was here and what it's like in the NFL. Hopefully they can learn from that.
"Our main goal is to win every game. [The receivers] are going to play physical and fast. We are going to make plays with our hands and make plays in the running game. We want to play hard and want other teams to look at us and say, `this is how we want our receivers to play -- these guys are physical in both the running and passing game.'"
Through studying film of each returning wide out over the offseason, Jackson familiarized himself with his group and found a strong foundation to turn to for leadership in seniors Perez Ashford and Martel Moore.
"Hopefully I can find a leader in all these guys, but we have senior leadership in Martel and Perez," Jackson said. "Both have been good players here for the last couple of years and now's their time to be senior leaders. They are taking advantage of it."
Ashford's 47 receptions, 530 yards and three touchdowns last season were quite an increase in production as he entered the year with no touchdowns and just 29 catches for 289 yards. While Ashford's breakout year came in 2011 and led to a Second Team All-Mid-American Conference selection, Moore had his in 2010 with 40 catches for 525 yards and four TDs. As a junior, Moore matched Ashford with 47 catches for a team-best 747 yards and seven TDs to one-up his sophomore campaign. With both back better than ever, the dynamic senior duo looks to feed off each other's drive to compete.
"We compete at everything we do," said Moore. "We both want to double our numbers from last year."
Behind the seniors are three other returners that contributed to the group in 2011 in redshirt junior Jamison Wells, redshirt sophomore Da'Ron Brown and sophomore Tommylee Lewis. After appearing in only three games as a freshman, Wells played in 13 games as a sophomore to tally 14 catches for 112 yards. In his first active season, Brown appeared in 14 games, making 24 receptions for 322 yards and two TDs. As a true freshman, Lewis sparked the Huskie return game with two kick return TDs and a 25.2 yard average on kick returns, while also rushing eight times for 74 yards and one TD as a receiver. All three figure to see increased playing time and production as their development continues.
The newcomers to the group include redshirt freshmen Juwan Brescacin and Angelo Sebastiano and freshmen Jacob Brinlee, Clayton Glasper and Charlie Miller. Brescacin was an all-state receiver in his senior season at Culver Academy (Ind.). Sebastiano was a first team all-county receiver in his senior season at North Broward Prep (Fla.). Brinlee was a two-time all-state selection at Lake Zurich High School (Ill.). Glasper was an honorable mention all-state selection in his final season at Richwoods (Ill.). Miller caught 37 balls for 966 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior at Vero Beach (Fla.).
With plenty of options downfield, the Huskie receivers figure to be another key component of NIU's explosive offense that has averaged more than 37 points per game over the last two seasons.
The Huskies continued preseason camp on Friday with Day No. 5 including two firsts as the Huskies donned full pads and scrimmaged briefly. Tomorrow morning was supposed to be NIU's first "scrimmage" but Doeren decided to scrap the plan and do some scrimmaging on Friday in the spirit of seeing the Huskies in full pads. Saturday's practice will be very similar to Friday's.
"It was very physical, we had good energy," Doeren said of Friday's practice. "It was fun to see the running backs run through tackles and see the linebackers and defensive backs have to finish plays instead of tagging guys off. There was good intensity. I'll have to watch the film to see how clean it was, but there was a lot of intensity."
Tickets for the Sept. 1 NIU-Iowa contest at Soldier Field are on sale to the general public through Ticketmaster, as well as the NIU Athletics Ticket Office. Fans can order tickets online at Ticketmaster.com, by calling the Ticketmaster toll-free number at 1-800-745-3000, or in person at any Ticketmaster outlet. The NIU Athletics Ticket Office is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Northern Illinois 2012 football season tickets are on sale now through the NIU Athletics External Office at 815-753-1923 or online at NIUHuskies.com for just $120 for the full six-game Huskie Stadium season. Mini plans, featuring any three Huskie Stadium games, can be purchased for $60, while NIU's new HuskieLand Plan tickets provide a ticket to the home opener versus Tennessee-Martin (Sept. 8), the Kansas game (Sept. 22) and the MAC West rivalry game versus Toledo (Nov. 14) along with $45 in gift cards from Buffalo Wild Wings, Village Commons Bookstore and Hy-Vee.