Created:Wednesday, June 2, 2010 11:08 p.m.CDT

Coffman decides to return

Defensive end Jake Coffman will return to the Huskies for his senior season. (Rob Winner –

The corporal is coming back to DeKalb.

After calling it a career with one year left of eligibility in January, defensive end Jake Coffman has decided to return to the Huskies for his senior season, the Daily Chronicle confirmed Wednesday night.

The 25-year-old Marine Corps veteran who completed two tours in Iraq during his time in the Marines, and rose to the rank of corporal before walking on to NIU in 2006 changed his plans and visited with NIU coach Jerry Kill to ask if he could rejoin the team.

"He says 'Coach, will you allow me to play?' " Kill said. "I said 'Certainly I'll allow you to play. You step foot in the door it makes us better.' "

Coffman had his best season as a Huskie in 2009, earning second-team All-Mid-American Conference honors. He finished the season with 8.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and one interception return for a touchdown while playing defensive end and defensive tackle for the final six games of the regular season when Brian Lawson went down with a hand injury.

When Coffman left in January, the plan at the time was to look into possible internships or jobs with the federal government and the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Defense.

"We're very very close and it's like a son, you don't tell him what to do," Kill said. "I felt like he was going to get going on the route to the Pentagon. I think he visited with the family. I think he just felt like he just hadn't quite finished what he needed to finish."

Coffman's return gives NIU's defensive line, already considered a strength coming into the season, a even bigger boost. Coffman will team on the outside with sophomores Sean Progar and Alan Baxter, both of whom had impressive showings in spring practice.

Kill said that Coffman's teammates also had some influence on convincing him to return.

"He's got a big old smile on his face," Kill said. "I know that's how he knows he made the right decision."

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