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2005 MAC Football Recruiting - NIU Huskies


NIU signed 24 players from five states. In typical Joe Novak fashion who takes good care of his own backyard, he signed 14 players from Illinois with twelve coming from the Chicago area. The remaining players round out like this; four are from Wisconsin, three from Minnesota, two from Indiana and one from Missouri. With usual Novak balance, 12 players are slated for offensive, 11 for defense and there is 1 specialist. The Huskies targeted emphasize was in DBs, LBs and offensive linemen. Nineteen members of this class earned all-state honors and 11 of the fourteen Illinois players were ranked as top-75 players within their state. Four players in this class were ranked nationally by various recruiting services to be top-50 players at their respected positions.

Top Player - Melvin Rice, CB

  • 1st Team All-State
  • Rated #1 CB in Chicago and a top-45 cover corner in nation
  • Several Big Ten and Big Twelve offers
  • 95 tackles and 5 INTs as a senior with two blocked punts


  • RB Justin Anderson was rated a top-30 player in Illinois and a top-65 'athlete' player nationally by one recruiting service. As an option QB in high school he produced over 4,200 total yards and accounted for 58 TDs. He chose NIU over Illinois, Iowa State and Maryland among others. SS Jeff Fontana was a 1st team all-state performer who had offers from Northwestern and Kansas. OL Ethan Gill was rated a top-15 player in Wisconsin while TE Reed Cunningham a 1st team all-stater from Cambria, WI, averaging 18-yards per reception.
  • Phil Brown was a huge steal for the Huskies. The Chicago LB prospect was rated the #46 OLB in the national by had offers from Big Ten and Big 12 schools before verbally committing to MAC West rival Ball State. Just prior to signing day he visited NIU and changed his mind, picking Coach Novak and the NIU program.
  • In a class of star-studded profiles, other players to note are Zach Larson, a top-10 rated player from Minnesota who chose NIU over offers from Big 12, Mountain West and Big East programs. Orlando Moore is a 4.4/40 speedster who was a 1st team all-state player from Chicago and averaged a whopping 25-yards per catch while scoring 10 TDs. He picked NIU over Michigan State, Maryland, Wisconsin and Bowling Green.

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt NIU signed the top class in the MAC and is regarded as OUTSTANDING. Novak & Company have been moving this program in the right direction for years now and certainly this class bears the fruits of their long labors. NIU was able to take advantage of coaching changes at Illinois and Indiana and signed a recruiting class that should be considered on par with many mid-level Big Ten schools. While this coaching staff historically likes to 'red-shirt' much of their freshmen, many of these players are good enough to contribute at their respected positions right away. Look for NIU to continue to be in the hunt for MAC championships as this class matures.

Name		Pos.	Ht.	Wt.	Previous School
Eddie Adamski	C	6-4	240	Kildeer (Mundelein Carmel)
Josh Allen	LB	6-0	200	North Chicago
Justin Anderson	TB	6-3	205	Chicago (Steinmetz)
Anthony Antonacci DE	6-2	235	Naperville (Neuqua Valley)
Brandon Bice	DE	6-4	225	McCook (LaGrange Lyons Township)
Phil Brown	LB	6-1	215	Chicago (Morgan Park)
David Bryant	CB	6-0	195	St. Louis, MO (Ladue Horton Watkins)
Reed Cunningham	TE	6-5	240	Cambria, WI (Pardeeville)
Andy Dittbenner	P	6-1	180	Bloomington (Normal University)
Jeff Fontana	S	5-11	185	Libertyville
Ethan Gill	OG	6-4	265	Sun Prairie, WI
Adam Grimm	DE	6-3	230	Mequon, WI (Homestead)
Cory Hanson	S	6-1	195	Minneapolis, MN (DeLaSalle)
Tony Holmes	OT	6-7	310	Woodbury, MN (Senior)
Zach Larsen	LB	6-2	230	Northfield, MN
Tim Mayerbock	OG	6-4	285	Chicago (St. Patrick)
Orlando Moore	WR	5-10	175	Chicago (Morgan Park)
Bradley Pruitt	SCB	5-10	175	Chicago (Morgan Park)
Kevin Skatrud	OT	6-6	295	Brodhead, WI (Brodhead-Juda)
Jacob Wertz	OT	6-5	315	Prairie View (Lincolnshire Stevenson)
Justin Williams	WR	6-1	180	Elkhart, IN (Central)
Preston Williams WR	5-11	170	Urbana
Spencer Williamson LB	6-3	185	Elkhart, IN (Central)

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