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2010 NIU Recruiting Class: The Preferred Walk-ons

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Walk-ons have always played a big part of Northern Illinois football.  Just look at this past year: RB Chad Spann, TE Jason Schepler, RG Joe Pawlak, FB Connor Flahive, WR Willie Clark, DE Sean Progar, S Garrett Barnas & K Mike Salerno were all originally walk-ons.  A lot of starters in that group.

NIU is great at giving local players an opportunity to prove themselves during their redshirt year.  Sometimes they don't even redshirt like Schepler and Spann.  Here are a few of the names that popped on or around signing day.  Both Hayes and Santacaterina (that rolls off the tongue nice) were part of the official list, so are they 'more preferred' than the other walk-ons?  Your guess is as good as mine.

It's interesting to note that all four of these walk-ons played running back in high school, but will likely switch to a defensive position full-time for the Huskies.  This is akin to Coach Kill's recruiting philosophy of "recruiting athletes and sticking them on the field where needed."

DB Marckie Hayes | Sycamore HS (Sycamore, IL)

5'8" 180 lbs / 40 time: 4.54 secs / Bench: 285 lbs / Squat: 425 lbs / Hang Clean: 305 lbs | Youtube | Commitment Story | Commitment Video

Awards: 5A 1st Team All-State, Daily Chronicle POY, Western Sun Conference MVP
: 1,792 rushing yds and 17 TDs

Notes: Played RB, DB and KR for the Sycamore Spartans.  Teammate and good friend of signee C.J. Compher.

S Michael Santacaterina | Geneva HS (Geneva, IL)

6'0" 205 lbs | Youtube | Commitment Story | Feature Story

ESPN Profile: NR

Awards: 7A All-State, Kane County Chronicle/Daily Herald Player of the Year
: 802 yds and 22 TDs on offense, 70 tackles, 2 INTs and 2 FRs on defense

Notes: Was team MVP his senior year and a team captain.  The tremendous athlete also returned punts.  Nickname is "Santa".  I can't tell you how fun it will be writing about him once he breaks the lineup.  Teammates with signee Frank Boenzi.

FB Bobby Winkel | Marmion Academy (Aurora, IL)

6'0" 212 lbs | Youtube [1] [2] | Commitment Story

ESPN Profile: NR

Awards: Daily Herald All-Area, HM 6A All-State

Stats: 596 yds and 6 TDs on offense, 104 tackles on defense

Notes: I'm just going with the trend and say that this high school fullback will make the switch to defense and play linebacker with the extra size that he has.

OLB Darrell Shepherd | Evanston Township HS (Evanston, IL)

6'1" 220 lbs

Other offers: Illinois, Toledo, Illinois State

Rivals Profile: NR
Scout Profile: NR

Notes: The Illinois offer probably didn't last long, but nevertheless he seems like a real good get.  Chose Northern over Eastern Illinois, guess he wanted to stay in the area.  Yet another guy that played RB as well as his LB position.  Teammates with DT Jeff Brown, a U of Miami signee (that Miami).