The Huskies have been on our radar this spring, so to catch up we sat down with Kaleb Carter, NIU Huskies beat writer and sports writer for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. He gave us some insight on how the battle for this year’s QB spot is shaping up, where the uncertainties are and who our dynasty owners might see as breakout performers. Check out more from Carter on Twitter @Kaleb_M_Carter.
Want even more? Check out our rankings page to see how NIU stacks up against other teams.
Overall, how do you believe the offense will compare to the 2018 version?
It’s a peculiar thing to consider, as NIU loses two of its most productive receivers from a year ago in Jauan Wesley and D.J. Brown, but others in camp have had the chance to step in. The offense will stretch more vertically than a year ago, and regardless of the quarterback situation, I would imagine more shots being taken down the field. The Huskie passing offense was one of the least efficient in the nation ago, (128th in yards per completion). I think there will be more production from the tight ends as well.
What do you expect from the QB position in 2019?
Despite Marcus Childers being a two-year starter, the consensus among many surrounding the program is that former California quarterback Ross Bowers, a fringe 3/4-star prospect out of high school, wouldn’t be coming to DeKalb without a feeling of certainty that the starting job would be his. His skillset and pro-style tendencies certainly makes it likely that he’d be the type of guy first-year offensive coordinator Eric Eidsness would want to run this offense. That all being said, given the advantage Childers has in learning the new offense this spring, I personally wouldn’t be surprised to see there be a battle for that No. 1 spot on the depth chart. One of the main themes surrounding the team this spring has been one of competition, and from the beginning, Thomas Hammock has reiterated that no job is being handed over and that everything would have to be won.
If Ross becomes the quarterback, you can expect NIU to be more dropback, spread the ball out and heave the ball down the field a bit more. With Childers at QB, you could probably expect more rollout and bootleg action and much more run heavy. But Eidsness’ offenses at SDSU were always pretty balanced.
How do you see the workload at RB being distributed?
Returning back Tre Harbison will still likely be the feature back and I estimate he’ll take just ynder half of the RB carries. Marcus Jones and Jordan Nettles are both speedy backs who will factor in heavily, with Jones working hard enough to potentially be the feature back. It just benefits NIU more to have Harbison as the workhorse, as his body is more likley to hold up. Nettles could be used as a weapon and will likely provide some help in the pass game.
One uncertainty is what to expect from Erin Collins, who will be eligible after transferring from Hutchinson CC in Kansas after originally going to school at North Carolina State. He’s got the burst to contribute right away, but there’s no tape to judge him against Division I competition.
How does the offensive line compare to the 2018 group?
The offensive line has some question marks, namely because three upperclassmen in Christopher Perez, Jordan Steckler and Nathan Veloz have not taken live snaps this spring. The unit struggled in the spring game, but shows some promise, notably from Marques Cox at left tackle. Perez’s health could go a long way toward the unit maintaining consistency this spring, as he will likely play center, but can move over to guard if needed.
What do you think the distribution will be to the WR/TE's?
I think this is a team that will really try to utilize its deep tight end group. Mitchell Brinkman and Daniel Crawford have really looked like potent weapons in the spring, and the possibility for production goes deep into that group. Otherwise, Spencer Tears has to step up as the No. 1 guy. elsewhere, youll see Tyrice Richie, Cole Tucker and Dennis Robinson trying to make an immediate impact.
For our dynasty owners, who are some young players that stand out as future breakout performers?
Running back Marcus Jones, wide receiver Dennis Robinson