Edgy's NIU Huskies overall grade: B
Northern Illinois and head coach Rod Carey signed 24 names to the Huskies Class of 2018 and included an impressive 14 in-state names. According to the Rivals.com Mid American Conference team recruiting rankings, the NIU Class of 2018 came in third behind Toledo and Western Michigan. NIU was able to ink six three-star ranked names, including in-state players such as Waubonsie Valley tight end Charles Robinson, Peoria offensive linemen Marques Cox and De La Salle LB Joe Bonds.
Headliner of the in-state class?
Robinson has the potential to become a major steal for the Huskies. Robinson, who played receiver and defensive line for the Warriors in 2017, has size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) and a frame that will allow him to get even a bit more bigger/thicker at the college level. Robinson also has receiver-caliber speed and skills in the frame/body of a kid who could play tight end, defensive end or even at inside linebacker if needed. If Robinson can overcome some academic issues this semester (Robinson also signed a Juco letter of intent with Iowa Central Community College) NIU will add a potential impact player.
Also, Homewood-Flossmoor athlete recruit Justin Hall (5-foot-9, 181 pounds) is far more than your run of the mill recruit for NIU. Hall, who played defensive back, receiver and running back as a three-year varsity starter at H-F (a rarity in the Vikings program) can literally do it all on the field. NIU will no question look to get Hall involved in the special teams/return game right away along with working into the defensive secondary group starting this fall.
The ones who got away?
NIU was able to secure it's first two early verbal commitments in the 2018 class from Plainfield East three star ranked DE Jack Sullivan (6-foot-5, 245 pounds) and Danville two star ranked offensive tackle Julian Pearl (6-foot-7, 245 pounds). Both Sullivan and Pearl are big, tall and lanky kids who are developmental kids with huge upsides. Unfortunately for NIU both Sullivan (Purdue) and Pearl (Illinois) became high in demand after adding their first offer from NIU and both wound up heading to the Big Ten.
Final thoughts on the NIU Huskies recruiting efforts:
It's pretty hard to argue with the overall approach and eventual results with its in-state Class of 2018. While a few early commitmentws wound up heading towards the Big Ten, credit the NIU staff for doing terrific early evaluations and losing a few kids to the Big Ten level will always be an issue for most Mid American Conference schools.
I've covered NIU football closely for many years (think mid Joe Novak era) and I can say without question the Class of 2018 is the best overall in-state group I can ever remember heading to DeKalb. The Huskies incoming class features some higher level headliners (Robinson/Cox/Bonds) plus adds much needed depth at several positions while also raising the overall talent level.
NIU also has been abler to continue to draw, attract and build upon a strong connection with several top in-state high school coaches and programs. While several in-state schools always talk about the importance of having it's focus on in-state kids, the overall numbers, depth and quality of some of the recent NIU recruiting classes speaks volumes and backs up its talks of in-state focus.