NIU Football Position Preview: Defensive Line – NIU Athletics

football | August 6

DeKalb, IL – After watching Saturday’s fifth practice session for the 2022 NIU Football pre-season camp, it became clear that the group of centers making strides and constantly improving is the line of defense for the Huskies.

between defensive intervention Damon Taylor Jr. (East St. Louis, Illinois / East St. Louis) Covers running back Ontario Brown (Savannah, Ga./Beach) In the flat on the screen pass, defensive end Raychen Thomas (Rasin, Wes/Washington Park) Reaching the quarterback for the position drill, and Jacob Wasko (Canton, IL/Canton) After recovering stumbling towards the end of the day, NIU’s front line defense makes an impression on head coach Thomas Hammock.

“If you have a good program, your defensive line is usually the strength of the program,” said the head coach. Thomas Hammock. “If your line of defense is good, it forces your offensive line to be better and competition helps your program.”

“Our D line is really getting bigger, they’re getting stronger, they’re getting hungrier. There’s a lot of depth and competition, and they’re putting in a lot of plays. We feel like we can go deep into 10, and our new students are giving us the offensive line a lot of quality work.”

Redshirt-Sophomore processing James Esther (Detroit, MI/CAS TECH) leads the group, one year after receiving honors from the 3rd Pan-Central American Conference. Ester had 25 tackles, 3.5 tackles to lose and a pair of sacks in 2021. Rookie defensive tackle Defont O’Malley (Midlothian, IL/Bremen) led the NIU last season with four sacks out of this year’s 16 tackles. This duo, along with Taylor, Waskow and a sophomore Kid Habermann (Omaha, NEP/Westside), played in all 14 games in 2021.

“I think we have three or four players vying for base type reps, but in the defensive tackle if you’re not two deep, you’re not deep one,” said the defensive line coach. Jordan Gigli. “You need depth in that position. Our job up front is to create chaos and deliver play. Sometimes that means facing a double team and someone else doing the play. You confuse being able to be a selfless footballer while, at the same time, When you get your chance, you should do the play in front of you.”

Thomas is looking to build on a solid rookie season in 2021, having had 48 tackles and 2.5 tackles to lose in 14 games from the defensive final position. redshirt-senior Michael Kennedy (Chicago, Illinois/Mount Carmel) He also did more than 40 interventions a year ago and added four more interventions for a loss. Add in the second year Evan Davis (Canton, Michigan/Plymouth), conversion Green May Way (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) is from Wisconsin and that only supports the group looking to improve their defensive unit even better.

“We did a really good job of playing more fitness in the line of scrimmage, using our length, speed and power from snap to whistle,” said the defensive end coach. Travis Moore. “This will give us a chance to be more dynamic at the front. We are very excited about some of the youngsters – Roy Williams (Crestwood, Illinois/Shepherd), Cameron Crowell (Columbus, Georgia, Carver), Dawson Riberda (Larchwood, Iowa/West Lyon) – who came here to play ball and have the same tool as our older guys. It’s a combination of us growing as a program, but more importantly growing the identity of our defensive line.”

Husky dogs trained for two hours at the Husky Stadium on Saturday. After a day off on Friday, NIU worked out more situational drills in team sessions. While the defense shined, offense had its fair share of notable plays. tight end Tristin Tewis (Pleasant Plains, IL/Pleasant Plains) Made a great one-handed hunt down the sideline. running back Mason Blackmore (Centralia, Ill./Centralia) He broke 30 yards in one of the team’s last spells of the day.

“I love the energy and excitement the guys had today,” Hammock said of Saturday’s training. “Our defense is playing at a high level. They are continuing the level of play they have played this spring and carrying that momentum into the fall. They will be a force to be reckoned with and I am excited about their progress.”

Husky dogs train in full rigs for the first time at camp on Sundays, starting at 10 a.m. See the full camp schedule and links to daily coverage on the 2022 Camp Central page at

NIU opens the 2022 season against Eastern Illinois scheduled for Thursday, September 1 at Huskie Stadium. Tickets for upcoming football and volleyball seasons at NIU are now on sale. Season tickets offer the best value, with football ticket prices as low as $15 per ticket with the Huskie plan. Mini-plans and single-game tickets are on sale now too. See all online pricing options here. To purchase season tickets or mini plans at any time, click here or call 815-753-PACK (7225) Monday through Friday.


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