Northern Illinois

Oswego standout tackle the latest to commit to NIU

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NBC Sports Chicago

Oswego standout tackle the latest to commit to NIU

Oswego junior defensive tackle Jack Hugunin (6-foot-3, 255 pounds) made a visit to Northern Illinois University on Monday for the Huskies' spring practice.

He didn't wait much longer to decide where he'll play, as he gave a same-day verbal commmitment to head coach Thomas Hammock. 

"I knew that I was going to go to NIU for the spring practice {Monday} and give NIU my commitment," Hugunin said. "I've been to NIU now a bunch of times and overall it's just the best fit for me and that's why I decided to commit."

The school's location and winning history played major roles in the selection.

"My goal has always been to get a college degree and play football at the highest possible level and I can get that done at NIU. I'll get to play in a great conference (Mid American Conference) and also play in a winning football program that's also 45 minutes from home. NIU really showed me a lot of love from very early on in the process and they were my first offer. I have a really good connection with all of the coaches at NIU. They really welcomed me when I first visited and it's just gotten better each time I visit. Academically, NIU is also a really good fit for me."

Hugunin is now the Huskies third known in-state verbal commitment and the program's fourth commitment overall so far this spring. Hugunin joins Peoria WR Kaevion Mack, West Aurora DE Matt Johnson and Milwaukee Vincent's ILB Devonte Lee.
 

Northern Illinois recruiting class breakdown

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USA TODAY

Northern Illinois recruiting class breakdown

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.

CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings: No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor

CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings: No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O'Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Jul. 31, we'll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

School: Homewood-Flossmoor

Head coach: Craig Buzea

How they fared in 2016: 10-1 (7-0 Southwest Suburban Conference), made the Class 8A state playoff field, defeated Evanston then lost to Glenbard West in second-round action.

[MORE: CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings - No. 10 Palatine]

2017 regular season schedule:

Aug. 25 vs. Michigan City, Indiana

Sept. 1 @ South Durham, North Carolina

Sept. 8 @ Stagg

Sept. 15 vs. Bolingbrook

Sept. 22 @ Lincoln-Way West

Sept. 28 vs. Lincoln-Way East

Oct. 6 vs. Bradley

Oct. 13 @ Andrew

Oct. 20 @ Sandburg

Biggest storyline: Can the Vikings get deep into the Class 8A state playoffs in 2017?

Names to watch this season: senior RB/DB Justin Hall (NIU), senior DL Jeff Griffin (NIU), senior LB Mario Wright II (Western Kentucky)

Biggest holes to fill: The Vikings will need to fill some important spots including the quarterback position this fall.

EDGY's early take: If any program can reload each year it's the Vikings under Buzea. The Vikings will look towards Hall, who can see action at any number of positions including returner. Griffin moved over from the offensive line, while Wright II is another name to watch along with junior defensive back Wynston Russell, a top Class of 2019 player who transferred in from De La Salle. Homewood-Flossmoor has the overall numbers, talent and depth to once again be a real threat in Class 8A this season.