When Thomas Hammock took the NIU head coaching position after the departure of Rod Carey (who's now head coach at Temple), Hammock promised that recruiting would be a major area of emphasis for his entire coaching staff.
Hammock and the Huskies are off to an encouraging start on the Class of 2020. On Tuesday morning, they added their third known verbal commitment: Peoria junior wide receiver Kaevion Mack (6-foot-2, 195 pounds).
Mack is now the second known in-state NIU verbal commitment. He joins West Aurora junior defensive end Matt Johnson (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) who, on Sunday, gave the Huskies his verbal commitment after making a junior day visit. It adds to the list of 2020 recruits that includes Milwaukee (Wisc) Vincent HS junior LB Devonte Smith (6-foot-1, 200 pounds).
So…why commit to Northern Illinois this early in the recruiting process?
According to West Aurora junior defensive end Matt Johnson, "I just felt at home at NIU on Sunday. I was able to talk with several of the NIU coaches including head coach (Thomas) Hammock…the whole coaching staff at NIU was one of the big reasons for my decision. They are a very high energy group of coaches and they also have a lot of coaching experience including experience coaching in the NFL. NIU is also just a great program that's also very close to home. I also learned more about the academics that NIU has to offer and I know that I'll be able to earn a strong degree there. NIU offered me and recruited me as a defensive end and most schools were looking at me as a defensive end."
NIU seems to be following a similar path to recruiting success that was established under the previous NIU staff. That blueprint includes getting some very early scholarship offers out to several top in-state names and then securing and holding onto those early verbal commitments. Over the past two recruiting classes in particular, NIU has landed several top recruits from the Land of Lincoln.