DeKALB, Ill. – Twenty-five players from 10 different states signed National Letters of Intent to play football for Northern Illinois University Wednesday during National Signing Day as NIU head coach Thomas Hammock and his staff inked the first complete signing class of their tenure.
“This is certainly a great day for us,” Hammock said. “Today marks 11 months to the day that I was hired, and in that time, there has been a lot of hard work by my coaching staff to evaluate these players. We feel good about the group, feel that we have some game-changers in terms of guys that can come in and make plays. This class has length, size, strength, physicality and competitiveness, all things that go into changing your team and changing the dynamics of your team.”
In terms of positions, NIU loaded up on offensive and defensive linemen as well as safety with five players from each of those three spots accounting for 15 of NIU’s 25 signees. The Huskies also added three cornerbacks, two tailbacks and two linebackers as well as a quarterback, wide receiver and tight end.
“We wanted to build this team from the inside out,” Hammock said. “That’s something that we’ve stressed for a long time. All the offensive and defensive linemen we signed today, we had in camp, so we got a live evaluation on them which is important to us. When you see a guy live, normally you have a better chance to minimize your misses.”
The Huskies will welcome five players into the program in January, including tailback Jevyon Ducker, the 2019 Gatorade Player of the Year in Nebraska who scored a state record 110 touchdowns during his high school career, Dustin Fletcher, one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the country out of Flint, Michigan, linebacker Cody Kopp from Jacksonville, Fla., Michigan safety C.J. Brown and Raishein Thomas, a 6-5 defensive end from Racine, Wis.
“The [five] midyear guys, we’re certainly excited about,” Hammock said. “Obviously, they need to be developed physically, mentally, socially, all those things that go into being a part of a college football program, doing things the hard way. By coming in [in January], they’re going to give themselves an opportunity to come in and play. They’ll get in the weight room, go through winter conditioning, go through spring ball and get to know the offense and defense.”
The Huskies’ 2020 class featured a heavy Midwestern emphasis, with 18 of the 25 players from the region. NIU signed six players from Wisconsin, including four offensive linemen, and three each from Illinois, Michigan and Florida. New Jersey, Indiana, Georgia and Iowa will each send a pair of players to DeKalb, while Nebraska and Minnesota are represented by one new Huskie each.