Work in Sports
Northern Illinois Huskies
Out of nowhere, into contention
'99: 5-6, 5-3
CoachJoe Novak (fifth season, 8-36)
Key offensive playersRyan Diem, OT, Sr.
The two-time All-MAC selection has 1,911 career snaps.
Justin McCareins, FL, Sr.
William Andrews, TB, Sr.
Key defensive playersJermaine Hampton, SS, Sr.
The MAC's third-leading returner in tackles with 120.
Benji Peacock, CB, Sr.
Key newcomerJason Hawkins, RB, Fr.
Led the state of Illinois in rushing last year as a high school senior with 2,794 yards and 41 touchdowns.
Throwback playerOffensive guard Kyle Jakubek, an old-fashioned plugger, led Northern Illinois last year in "dominator" blocks with 24.
21st century playerOffensive tackle Ryan Diem is NFL material, big, strong, well-coached and smart. He has a school-record 800-pound squat lift, a 5.08 in the 40, 51.5-inch chest, 43-inch waist, 32-inch thigh, 31-inch vertical jump, and 19.5-inch neck.
Fast factNorthern Illinois' 5-6 record last year was the school's best since 1992.
OutlookSince being hired before the 1996 season, Novak has patiently built this program. Donšt be surprised if the Huskies challenge Toledo for the MAC West title. Northern Illinois has good runners, a solid offensive line and an experienced defense. Keys will be quarterback Chris Finley completing some key passes and getting a few questions answered in the kicking game.