CHICAGO – After starting 22 games over the past two seasons, Northern Illinois senior Logan Pegram knows a lot about being a college football player.
But the lone returning starter on the Huskies’ offensive line realized early in the summer that he didn’t know much about some of his teammates.
“I knew most of them,” Pegram said on Tuesday at NIU’s Chicago media day. “But the more I sat down and talked to them, the more I would know their individual stories, and that’s something I like to know. Every coaching staff I’ve had has talked about getting to know each other. Yeah, you know what where they’re from, you know what position they play, but actually get to know them, what makes them tick, who they are.”
By sitting down and listening, Pegram learned that, similar to his own recruiting story, left guard Andrew Ness originally committed to Southern Methodist University, but his scholarship was withdrawn.
He learned that Tyler Pitt was a champion wrestler in high school, and that there’s more to the Georgia native than his “country-boy” exterior. He also learned that Matt Krempel can eat a "disgusting" amount of hot wings.
As fall camp approaches, Pegram has learned a lot of pieces of information, big and small, about his teammates that make him feel close to the guys he’ll line up next to on Saturdays.
“It makes us more of a tighter group,” Pegram said. “It makes it more of a brotherhood … I have his back and he has mine.”
As the only senior on the offensive line, much is expected of Pegram as a leader and a lineman.
A few weeks ago, coach Dave Doeren decided to slide him over to center because of the importance of having a veteran making calls.
“We felt like having a guy who has played in a lot of games making those calls will allow the other guys not to think as much and play better,” Doeren said. “He’s got a big job. It’s not just about playing well, but he’s kind of the guy that holds it together right now.”
Replicating the success of last year’s offensive line will be difficult. The senior-laden group allowed just 12 sacks in 14 games last season, when the Huskies won the MAC Championship.
Doeren said that this year’s offensive line has even more depth, but getting the new group to fall in line will be a big part of Pegram’s responsibilities.
The senior realizes that it’s important for this group to know each other, to learn each other’s on-field tendencies and their off-field similarities.
“Its people that you actually care about and you want to be with,” Pegram said. “Everyone at NIU is a couple of inches too short, a couple of seconds off of a 40 too slow. I think we all have that chip on our shoulder, and that’s what makes us who we are, what makes us the team we are.”