NIU hoping to find hidden gems in recruiting class

NIU hoping to find hidden gems in recruiting class
February 6, 2014, 4:00 pm
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Edgy Tim

Northern Illinois Rivals.com Final National Team Recruiting Ranking: 83

Top ranked recruit: Florida three-star ranked defensive back Deion Hallmon has exceptional speed and top notch cover skills. You seldom see recruits leaving the South for DeKalb and Hallmon has a chance to be an early contributor for the Huskies.

Top ranked local recruit: Prairie Ridge three-star ranked offensive tackle Shane Evans was a very productive player for the Wolves and head coach Chris Shremp. He had multiple offers and was possibly an inch or two away from landing several Big Ten offers. He could be another shining example of the Huskies' recruiting success.

[MORE: Northern Illinois National Signing Day coverage]

The one who got away: Northern Illinois received a very early verbal commitment from Sycamore outside linebacker Ben Niemann, the son of Huskies defensive coordinator Jay Niemann. The younger Niemann also received a scholarship offer from Iowa. In the end, he decommitted from the Huskies and signed with the Hawkeyes.

Sleeper of the Class: Quarterback Landon Root was a bit under the radar with offers from only NIU and Tulsa. He was very impressive this past summer at the Huskies one day camp. He has very good size and touch. Root has the look and feel of a recruit who can develop into a very strong signal caller for the Huskies.

[RELATED: National Signing Day review: Class of 2014]

Local breakdown: The Huskies added several in-state names, some via scholarship and others the preferred walk on route. Besides Evans, the Huskies added Wheaton South quarterback Ryan Graham, who is a very solid player along with Thornton defensive back Tifonte Hunt, who is a top notch special teams return specialist. Proviso West tight end Denzel Tolliver is a very impressive athlete, who could be used at a few different spots. They also added a very strong group of in-state preferred walk on recruits. Keep an eye out for North Chicago linebacker Khalil Rogers.

EDGY's Thoughts: I feel Northern Illinois could eventually be facing a recruiting dilemma. Winning brings more interest and attention on a much wider scale. Yet, they have won by finding hidden gems in Illinois. The Huskies will need to find a good balance between hitting Florida, like everyone else, yet staying loyal to it's main recruiting base in Illinois and Wisconsin. Overall, this is a solid class for the Huskies and I expect them to continue to work both in and out of state equally hard.