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Adios Seniors: The Offense

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This is the first part of a 2-part series evaluating the losses to graduation that Northern Illinois will face before we get in to the real heart of the recruiting season these next couple weeks.  Thanks to all these players for the hard work they have put into the Huskie program the past 4 years.  They endured the coaching transition and went from a 2-10 season in 2007 to two straight bowl games for the first time in NIU history. First up: The O.


Eddie Adamski

50 C Eddie Adamski, 6'3" 284 lbs
Games Played/Games Started: 50/50
Recruiting Class: 2005
Career Stats: Has started 50 games at center, all but one of his NIU career
Member of Coach Kill's Leadership Council

Legacy: 4-year starter on the offensive line.  Named 1st Team All-MAC this year (2nd LY) and was named Co-Top Offensive Lineman for the Huskies.  The fan-favorite ever have too much trouble exchanging the ball with the QB, even as he transitioned to shotgun snapping in 2008.  Cleared the way for 1,000 yard seasons by RBs Garrett Wolfe, Justin Anderson & Chad Spann.  Graduated in December with a degree in Engineering.

Jason Onyebuagu

65 LG Jason Onyebuagu, 6'2" 307
GP/GS: 51/38
Recruiting Class: 2006
Stats: Has played in all 51 games over the last 4 years, started 37 straight
Member of Coach Kill's Leadership Council
Legacy: J.O. has been the heart and soul of the Huskie football team this past year, as he was voted "Most Inspirational Player" by his teammates. After starting 5 games a true freshman, Jason O. became a full-time starter at OG in 2007.  He was 1st Team All-MAC this year (2nd LY) and was named co-Top Offensive Lineman.  His presence on the team will be very, very hard to replace this off-season.  Was ranked the #8 player in Indiana coming out of high school by and chose the Huskies over the Hoosiers.  Graduated in December with a degree in Communications.

Reed Cunningham

83 TE Reed Cunningham, 6'5" 255
GP/GS: 40/23
Recruiting Class: 2005
Stats: 45 catches, 488 yards, 5 TDs
Legacy: He's been a borderline starter his entire career, but usually made the most of his opportunities when he got the chance.  Didn't complain when Jason Schepler and Bryan Beckner were overtaking him on the depth chart in the off-season.  Both of those players got hurt and Reed took his role up from last year as a serviceable blocker with iffy hands.  Finished this season with 5 receptions for 70 yds and a TD.  Graduated in December with a degree in Geography.

Role Players

Justin Anderson

21 RB Justin Anderson, 6'0" 234
GP/GS: 49/12
Recruiting Class: 2005
Stats: 375 car, 1722 yds, 11 TDs, 45 rec, 263 yds, 3 TDs
Legacy: The majority of his stats came from the 2007 season when he rushed for 1,245 yds and 8 TDs on the ground and set the record for receptions by an NIU running back.  Started the first two games of the Kill era, but was then relegated to mop-up duty for the rest of his career.  Whether it had to do with anything off the field we'll never know, but on the field he only had average speed and was not recruited for the spread.  Was a 3-star athlete coming out of high school and chose the Huskies over the Fighting Illini.

Marcus Lewis

11 WR Marcus Lewis, 6'3" 210
GP/GS: 39/6
Recruiting Class: 2006
Stats: 40 rec, 416 yards, 3 TDs
Legacy: Marcus played as a true freshman, but never really came on until just this year.  Which is great, because he's always been one of those guys that you expected to have a break-out season but never did.  His time in the spotlight was just too short, as he scored a TD in each of the last 3 regular season games and led all WRs with 4 receptions for 38 yds in the International Bowl.  He finished the season 2nd on the team with 29 catches for 299 yds.  You wonder how his career would have been different had he redshirted one of his underclassman seasons.

Ryan Morris

15 QB Ryan Morris, 6'2" 213
GP/GS: 27/3 
Recruiting Class: 2005
Stats: 68-132 completions, 744 yards, 4 TDs, 3 starts in 2007
Legacy: The former walk-on had his time in the spotlight due to the walking injury Dan Nicholson going down and being the next guy on the depth chart.  He is the consummate team player, tutoring all the young QBs and continuing holding duties as the new offensive system Kill brought doesn't suit his limited skill-set.  A 4.0 student.

Kevin Skatrud

59 OL Kevin Skatrud, 6'7" 327
GP/GS: 30/11
Recruiting Class: 2005
Stats: Inj. in preseason, started in 2007 and 2008
Legacy: The gigantic senior was projected to start at the RT position in the Spring.  Then Fall practice started up and he fell to an ACL injury that sidelined him the entire season.  Started 8 games in 2007 and started the first 3 in 2008 at LG when Jason O. was hurt.  Graduated in December with a degree in History.

Preston Williams

82 WR Preston Williams, 5'11" 180
GP/GS: 19/2
Recruiting Class: 2005
Stats: 1 rec, 9 yds, 1 TD
Legacy: It's amazing to me that Preston spent 5 years here mainly playing on the scout team.  It truly was one of the great moments of the season when he made his first career reception, for a TD, versus Ball State.  Good for him, he got his school payed for and just graduated in December with a degree in History.

Offensive Recap

Players Lost: 8
Starters Lost: 3
Starter Positions Lost: LG, C, TE

It was painfully obvious while watching the bowl game that the offense is the main problem on this team.  The good thing is that 9 starters will return in 2010 to make this unit somewhat respectable.  Experience is huge and it's no mistake that our two best offensive linemen this year are also the most experienced.

The bad part is that there is still a distinct talent gap that we need to overcome.  The QB position is going to be a wide-open competition in the Spring.  So will every position on the OL and TE.  The blocking has to get better on this team.  Season-long backups Ed Jackson and Scott Wedige will be the players to beat for LG and C, respectively in the Spring.  Jared Volk and Matt Krempel both finished redshirting as well.  Other players to be unleashed include RBs Antione Kirkland & Iowa State Transfer Cameron Bell and WR Anthony Johnson.  WRs Martel Moore and Perez Ashford will be in their 2nd year after just playing their true freshmen seasons.

On the recruiting trail, there has been commitments by two RBs, two interior OL, one OT and two projects at WR.  Kill is still working hard to bring in as many bodies as possible to battle for playing time on the offensive side of the ball.