Aug 20, 2013
Over the next two weeks, NIUHuskies.com will preview every position on the 2013 Northern Illinois football team, continuing 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. Wednesday's position group: defensive line.
Previous Position Previews
Fullbacks and Tight Ends
DeKALB, Ill. – Replacement is a common word in college football, especially on the field. When a standout graduates at a particular position, it is up to the coaching staff to find someone to fill that role and emerge as a difference maker.
This year, it is NIU’s receiving corps who will be faced with the task of replacing two playmakers at wide receiver.
After losing Martel Moore and Perez Ashford to graduation, juniors Tommylee Lewis (Riviera Beach, Fla./W.T. Dwyer) and Da’Ron Brown (Chicago, Ill./Morgan Park) stand as the most experienced players at the position. In two seasons, the Floridian speedster Lewis has caught 48 passes for 539 yards and five touchdowns. His biggest claim to fame, though, is in his kick returning abilities, as he has returned 54 kicks for 1,344 yards (a 24.9 yard average) and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Brown has grabbed 41 passes for 478 yards and four touchdowns in three seasons in the Cardinal and Black.
After spending the last two seasons as strong third and fourth options at receiver, it will be up to these two to become the leaders of the group.
“They both have stepped up and been tremendous leaders for us in the classroom and on the field,” said NIU assistant coach Thad Ward. “They have stepped up and done a great job so far.”
In addition, sophomores Juwan Brescacin (Mississauga, Ontario/Culver Academy [Ind.]), Angelo Sebastiano (Coconut Creek, Fla./North Broward Prep) and Jacob Brinlee (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich/Fork Union Military Academy) also bring experience after debuting last season. Combined, the trio had 18 receptions for 287 yards and one touchdown, but those numbers should jump dramatically in 2013.
Brescacin showed glimpses of big-play ability last season by averaging 20.3 yards per reception, a mark that was tops on the team among players with double-digit catches. Also, Brinlee and Sebastiano’s versatility in other facets of the game – such as on running plays and in punt returns – make them valuable for the Huskies.
“As a group, I think all of them are going to make a big contribution,” Ward said. “They’re still finding out what they can do and (we want to) put them in a positive situation where they can be successful.”
As was touched on earlier, the youth and talent at the position are plentiful with three redshirt freshmen and five true freshmen. With a year in the system, Clayton Glasper (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) is one individual who is looking to make contributions on the offensive side and has the size – 6-4 and 202 pounds – to cause matchup problems on the outside. Meanwhile, quarterbacks-turned-wide receivers Matt Williams (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) and Johnny Eagan (Wautoma, Wis./Wautoma) also should be in the mix.
Much as it has the past two seasons with Lewis and Brinlee, the Huskies could see contributions from their true freshmen. NIU will get plenty of speed in Chad Beebe (Aurora, Ill./Aurora Christian), son of longtime NFL veteran Don Beebe, and Aregeros Turner (Copley, Ohio/Copley). Additionally, the Huskies also bring in two big receivers with Blake Holder (Streamwood, Ill./Streamwood) and Malik Mitchell (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton). Combined, the quartet has shown flashes of big-play ability in fall practices, raising the possibility that one or more members of this group could make an immediate impact on the team.
“They’re still going along (and) we’re still evaluating that,” Ward said. “We probably will see an immediate impact for some of those guys, though.”
“Aregeros Turner has done a great job. Chad Beebe has done a great job for us in camp and Malik Mitchell. All three of them have done a great job. They’re sharp kids and their growing each and every day.”
Though youth dominates the position, don’t expect the big-play capability that last season’s team featured on the outside to drop off much or at all.
Tuesday’s Practice Highlights
- NIU hit the Huskie Stadium turf for a full pads afternoon practice under mostly sunny skies.
- The team had plenty of company at practice with scouts from five NFL teams – the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans – in attendance.
- Also of interest to fans curious about the improvements being made at Huskie Stadium: The scoreboard and ribbon board graphics were being tested during practice.
- On the field, the defense mastered the offense in a pair of two minute drills. For the first teamers, the defense did not allow the offense to get inside the 35 yard line, while the second team defense stuffed the offense inside the redzone.
- Freshman Chad Beebe continues to shine in preseason practices. In 7-on-7 drills, he beat his defender and caught a corner route near the goal line pylon for a touchdown. On the very next play, he beat his defender on the exact same route and reached out for a fingertip grab.
- Speaking of shining, QB Jordan Lynch had impressive touch in the full team session. On one particular throw, the Heisman contender lofted a pass down the right sideline to WR Da’Ron Brown, putting the ball just past DB Dominique Ware and right in the junior’s hands for what would have resulted in a touchdown.
- The Huskies begin the homestretch of their preseason practice schedule tomorrow with an 8 p.m. practice.
The Huskies open the 2013 season at Iowa Aug. 31 while the home opener against Eastern Illinois is set for Sept. 21. Season and single game tickets for Northern Illinois' 2013 home schedule are on sale now. The new Huskieland Plan, which includes a ticket to all five home games (sections A and G) and $50 in Doggie Dollars good for parking and/or concessions, is just $50. All remaining season ticket locations for the 2013 Huskie Stadium home slate are just $100 while NIU Alumni Association members, senior citizens (62+), youth (3-13), NIU Varsity Club (former letterwinners) members and faculty and staff can see every game for just $88. Season tickets are available by calling NIU Athletics at 815-753-PACK (7225), or go online to www.NIUHuskies.com/tickets for complete information and order forms.
Single game tickets are priced at just $15 for seating in the upper rows of sections A and G in Huskie Stadium, while seats in sections B, F and lower A and G are $24 for the general public and $18 for senior citizens (ages 62 and over) and youth (ages 3-13). Seats in section C, D and E, as well as seats on the East Side, are just $30 for the general public and $20 for senior citizens and youth. Single game tickets for the five-game home schedule can be purchased through the NIU Athletics Ticket Office in the Convocation Center, online via Ticketmaster and NIUHuskies.com and on the phone by calling 815-753-PACK.