Senior • 6-0 • 216
This year, Lynch is a well-known name. He lit up the NIU record books last year, breaking 14 school records, and became the first player in Football Bowl Subdivision history to throw for more than 3,000 yards (3,183) and run for more than 1,500 (1,815).
Lynch finished seventh in the 2012 Heisman Trophy voting last season, and if things break right for him and the Huskies in 2013, he could be a dark horse candidate for the award.
Behind Lynch, there are question marks. Sophomore Matt McIntosh and redshirt freshman Drew Hare battled for the backup spot during fall camp. McIntosh has some experience, completing 7 of 13 pass attempts and rushing for 104 yards last season.
Junior • 5-7 • 184
Daniels ended the 2012 season strong, running for 112 yards and four touchdowns against Eastern Michigan the day after Thanksgiving, and rushing for 128 yards in the Mid-American Conference Championship Game.
However, Daniels missed a lot of time during fall camp after recovering from foot surgery, and didn't practice during the spring either. NIU head coach Rod Carey has said the injury isn't serious, so Daniels should be the Huskies go-to back this year once he returns.
Junior Cameron Stingily had a strong fall camp and could see a good amount of carries this season. Keith Harris Jr. played as a true freshman and ranked fourth on the team in rushing with 238 yards. Junior Giorgio Bowers could figure into the mix as well.
Junior • 5-7 • 155
Lewis was solid last season, catching 48 balls for 539 yards and five touchdowns. Now, he's the Huskies' No. 1 threat with Martel Moore not in the picture.
There's talent behind Lewis, though there's a lot of inexperience as well. Da'Ron Brown caught 17 passes for 156 yards in 2012 and is now in a starting role. Juwan Brescacin has great size (6-1, 219 pounds) and has looked good throughout the spring and summer. Sophomores Angelo Sebastiano and Jacob Brinlee will also have bigger roles, while true freshmen Aregeros Turner and Chad Beebe could factor into the mix as well.
At tight end, Luke Eakes (eight catches for 268 yards in 2012) is the starter. Expect to see sophomore Desroy Maxwell and junior Tim Semisch as well.
Tyler Loos • 6-6 • 282
All five starters from last year's Orange Bowl – tackles Ryan Brown and Matt Krempel, guards Aidan Conlon and Jared Volk, as well as center Andrew Ness, return this season. Not to mention Loos, who started the first 11 games at left tackle last season before suffering a broken tibia, is back and healthy.
The Huskies are deep, talented and experienced up front. Lynch should have plenty of running lanes and time to throw this year.
Senior • 6-1 • 308
NIU loses some key players here in defensive tackle Nabal Jefferson and ends Sean Progar and Alan Baxter.
Bishop, a senior defensive tackle, had a strong year as a junior-college transfer, and was at his best in the MAC Championship, when he had a season-high eight tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack. Donovan Gordon is listed as the starting nose guard on NIU's preseason depth chart.
Senior defensive end Joe Windsor had seven sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss last season, and senior George Rainey is listed as the starter on the opposite end. Jason Meehan and Perez Ford will provide depth at the position.
Junior • 5-10 • 225
Bass started as a true freshman two years ago, and now he's the veteran member of this group, anchoring one of the outside linebacker spots. Look for the junior, who was third on the team with 83 tackles a year ago, to be a key member of the defense.
Sophomore Boomer Mays will start in the middle, and he has some experience under his belt having started four games last year. His backup, Michael Santacaterina, has six career starts.
Sophomore Rasheen Lemon is expected to start at the other outside spot.
Senior • 5-11 • 192
Carey has called this group the strength of the defense. It all starts with senior safety Ward, a first-team All-MAC selection a year ago after leading NIU with 104 tackles and three interceptions. Junior Dechane Durante started the first six games of last season and is back in a starting role at the other safety spot.
Expect seniors Sean Evans and Jhony Faustin, who started 10 games in 2011, to start at cornerback.
Senior • 5-11 • 180
Who can forget Sims' 40-yard field goal which sent last year's MAC Championship into double overtime?
Sims hit 15 of 19 field goals, was 6-for-8 from 40-49 yards and booted a career-long 54-yarder last season. Field-goal kicking isn't a concern for the Huskies.
Junior Tyler Wedel, who has handled kickoff duties since his freshman year, will take over the punting as well.
Tommylee Lewis will be a threat as a kickoff returner while Angelo Sebastiano will see the bulk of the punt returns.