2014 NIU Preview: What You Need To Know
Northern Illinois WR Da'Ron Brown
Northern Illinois WR Da'Ron Brown
Posted Jul 13, 2014

Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About Northern Illinois

2014 Northern Illinois Preview

What You Need To Know...

- 2014 Northern Illinois Preview  
What You Need To Know About The Offense: Is there life after Jordan Lynch? Don’t expect any massive changes without him. The quarterback situation might be the team’s biggest question mark, but the other pieces are in place to come up with another huge season. Will the Huskies finish fifth in the nation in total offense and 11th in scoring again? No, but it’ll still be a dangerous attack starting with a fantastic offensive line that should be able to keep blasting away for big back Cameron Stingily. There should be even more from the passing game with a fantastic and dangerous receiving corps starting with Tommylee Lewis and Da’Ron Brown along with a slew of good tight ends.

What You Need To Know About The Defense: After a shaky year hurt mostly by a clunker against Bowling Green in the MAC championship, the defense has some work to do losing star safety Jimmie Ward and all four starters up front. Fortunately, there’s a great-looking end tandem in Jason Meehan and Perez Ford to potentially shine in the backfield. The linebacking corps will be the strength with Boomer Mays cleaning everything up inside and Jamaal Bass the do-it-all playmaker outside. Can the secondary improve after so many rocky outings and finishing 105th in the nation? Two starters are back led by safety Dechane Durante, but losing Ward is a huge hit.

Players You Need To Know

1. OT Tyler Loos, Sr.
Can he get and stay healthy? The 6-5, 303-pound veteran might be the best all-around blocker in the MAC, but he suffered a knee injury in 2011, a broken leg at the end of the 2012 season, and it took all offseason to come back. Last year he was the main man for the line and the top protector of Jordan Lynch, but he once again got hurt late in the year. When he’s right, he’s very quick, very athletic and great at blowing defenders off the ball.

2. WR Tommylee Lewis, Sr.
The team’s best all-around offensive playmaker last year not named Lynch, he led the team with 86 catches for 715 yards and three scores, finished third on the team with 356 rushing yards and a score, and averaged 28.4 yards per kick return with a score. At 5-7 and 155 pounds, he’s not big, but he can really, really move with lightning quickness and gamebreaking ability. He didn’t bust off too many big plays for the passing game, but he did enough to earn All-MAC honors.

3. LB Jamaal Bass, Sr.
Second on the team in tackles, the 5-10, 220-pound veteran came up with 87 tackles with 1.5 sacks and six tackles for loss from his spot on the outside. While he’s not big, the all-star has excellent range and can move well with a great burst and excellent timing. One of the team's most athletic linebackers, he's also a huge hitter and a tone-setter. Even at his size he’s able to come up with plays, making 145 stops in his first two seasons, he’ll be the main man for the defense and the steadiest tackler.

4. WR Da'Ron Brown, Sr.
Tommylee Lewis might have been the go-to target, but it was Brown who was the most dangerous threat finishing second on the team catching 46 passes for 752 yards and nine scores, averaging 16.3 yards per catch. At 6-0 and 194 pounds he has decent size to go along with phenomenal speed, and he knows what he’s doing. The former quarterback and Illinois high school track star ripped up Ball State for 209 yards and two scores on eight catches, but he got banged up and missed time late. Now he’s expected to make even more big plays to stretch the field.

5. S Dechane Durante, Sr.
Jimmie Ward was the star of the secondary – and the defense – but Durante did his part at free safety making 55 tackles with three picks and five broken up passes. At 6-2 and 197 pounds he has decent size and can move, doing a great job when the ball is in the air. Built like a big corner, he can deliver the big pop at either safety spot while also showing off nice range. A big run stopper early on with 19 tackles in the first two games, he was solid the rest of the way earning all-star honors. Now it’s his job to be the leader of the secondary.

6. RB Cameron Stingily, Sr.
Someone else besides Jordan Lynch had to run the ball, but no one knew it would be Stingily. A special teamer and afterthought throughout his career, he finished second on the team behind Lynch with 1,119 yards and nine touchdowns and caught seven passes for 44 yards. At 6-1 and 244 pounds, he’s a big banger who can rip up the interior of a defense, rumbling for 266 yards and two scores on 37 carries against Kent State and pounded for 146 yards on 18 carries against Toledo. He might not have been flashy, and he didn’t score over the final four games, but he has the ability to keep the ground game moving without Lynch.

7. QB Matt McIntosh, Jr.
Is it going to be McIntosh or Drew Hare to be the new star of the NIU offense? The 6-1, 197-pound junior saw a little bit of time last year, completing both his passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 44 yards on just six carries. The 6-1, 213-pound backup can move, fitting the mold of NIU quarterbacks, but the 2010 Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year needs more experience. A passer, he finished his high school career throwing for 5,553 yards and 65 yards, and while he’s not Lynch as a runner, he can take off.

8. LB Boomer Mays, Jr.
The man in the middle, Mays is a huge 6-0, 244-pound tackler who finished third on the team with 82 tackles with two sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. Good in the open field, he’s at his best when things are funneled his way, making 11 stops against Toledo and serving as a steady factor throughout the year. He has the speed to work on the outside, but he’s at his best in the middle with his physical style a big hitter for the run defense.

9. C Andrew Ness, Jr.
The longtime veteran started every game as a freshman and was the main man under center last season, and now he’ll once again be the anchor up front. At 6-3 and 296 pounds he has good size, and he’s versatile enough to play anywhere on the line. The talent is there to be an all-star no matter where he lines up.

10. DE Jason Meehan, Sr.
The line loses all four starters and most of the top playmakers, but Meehan is back after working behind George Rainey, adding more size at 6-1 and 250 pounds and a great burst into the backfield. A specialist, he turned into the team’s top pass rusher with 6.5 sacks and 31 tackles. While he’s built a bit more like a linebacker, he can hold his own up front, and now he has to be the star who makes plays when keyed on. Great in the MAC championship loss, he showed he’s ready to start playing a bigger role.

- 2014 Northern Illinois Preview