Oct. 5, 2009
DeKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois junior defensive end Jake Coffman (German Valley, Ill./Forreston HS) has been named the MAC West Defensive Player of the Week by the Mid-American Conference following his performance in the Huskies' 38-3 Homecoming victory over Western Michigan last Saturday.
Coffman made several big plays as Northern Illinois won its league opener for the first time since 2004, none bigger than the first play of the fourth quarter when he tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage, then caught the ball, tucked it and ran 79 yards for his first career touchdown. Coffman's play was the sixth-longest interception return in NIU history and the first pick-off of his career.
He also stopped another Bronco drive in the fourth quarter when he recovered a fumble by WMU quarterback Tim Hiller on the Western Michigan 43-yard line. Earlier in the half, Coffman recorded his second tackle for loss of the season when he dropped WMU tailback Brandon West for a two-yard loss as one of his two solo tackles on the day.
No one was happier about Coffman's success Saturday than NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill.
"Jake is a tremendous person," Kill said. "I'm very loyal to our county, I love the United States of America and we carry the flag out (before games)... To have a young man that has been in the [U.S.] Marine Corps, has fought for your country, he's 25-years-old, playing on your team and he tips a ball and catches it and goes 79 yards, I think our whole team wanted to run out there with him. It couldn't happen to a better young man, a better person.
"I've had a lot of great things happen in my life, but to see that happen to that kid was one of the better things that could ever happen. We've got a lot of guys over there fighting for our country that let us play this great game of football. I think sometimes we forget that."
Coffman led a Huskie defensive effort that limited Western Michigan to 251 total yards on the day and forced four turnovers. WMU's 73 rushing yards were a season-low by an NIU opponent and the Broncos earned just 31 yards on the ground after halftime.
The 25-year-old former Marine corporal, who served two tours in Iraq prior to walking on at Northern Illinois, is the second Huskie defender, and the fourth NIU player, to pick up MAC West Player of the Week honors this year. Linebacker Cory Hanson
and kicker Mike Salerno
earned the defensive and specialist honors, respectively, following the Wisconsin game, while tailback Me'co Brown
was the offensive player of the week after his performance in NIU's win over Purdue.
With the win, Northern Illinois improved its record to 3-2 overall, 1-0 in the MAC. The Huskies have next weekend off before making back-to-back league road trips to Toledo (Oct. 17) and Miami (Oct. 24). NIU returns to Huskie Stadium Oct. 31 for a Halloween day game versus Akron which kicks off at 11 a.m. (Central).
Tickets for NIU's three remaining home games are on sale through the Northern Illinois Athletics Ticket Office in the Convocation Center at 815-752-6800, all Ticketmaster outlets in the area and on-line at www.niuhuskies.com. Single game tickets are just $20 for the general public.
-- NIU --
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