DeKALB – One player who has helped offset the losses of wideouts Martel Moore and Perez Ashford is junior Da’Ron Brown.
Brown has 23 catches, a team-high 301 yards (an average of 13.1 yards a catch) and four receiving touchdowns, also a team high.
He’s already surpassed his 2012 totals in all three categories.
Last season, Brown caught 17 balls for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
“It’s his time. Martel and Perez are gone, it’s his time to step in and step up,” Carey said after Wednesday’s practice at Huskie Stadium. “He’s played a lot of football around here, even with those guys here. Now he’s a guy who’s got to make the plays when we want them to.”
Expect him to be a big part of the offense the rest of the season.
Other notes from Wednesday’s practice:
• Linebacker Michael Santacaterina didn’t practice but Carey said it’s nothing serious.
He’ll be ready to go Saturday in place of Rasheen Lemon, who’s still out with an indefinite suspension.
• Wide receiver Angelo Sebastiano (spinal cord injury), who Carey said Tuesday is day-to-day, didn’t practice.
• NIU senior offensive tackle Matt Krempel is one of 170 candidates for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Awards.
Krempel is also a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, given to the top scholar-athlete in the country.
Krempel, one of 54 nominees from the Football Bowl Subdivision, graduated in May with a degree in pre-physical therapy, and carried a 3.59 undergrad GPA.
He’s currently working on a master’s in kinesiology and physical education.
There will be 16 recipients for the Scholar-Athlete Award.
Nabal Jefferson was a winner last year, as was Chandler Harnish in 2011.
• Kent State defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix seems as if he’s been at KSU forever, and he’s had a heck of a career.
As a freshman, he won MAC Defensive Player of the Year, and he’s looking to become a four-time All-MAC selection.
Carey said Nix probably has the best first step he’s seen on film.
“He’s just disruptive. He’s one of those guys that you can’t just sit and single-block all day,” Carey said. “You’ve got to double him, single him. You’ve got to do a whole bunch of different things to him, because he’s a guy who can change the game.”
KENT STATE GOLDEN FLASHES (2-3, 1-1 Mid-American Conference)
Last game: Won, 32-14, at Western Michigan
Last meeting with Northern Illinois: NIU 44, Kent State 37 (2 OT) in 2012 MAC Championship at Ford Field in Detroit.
Key players: RB/WR Dri Archer, RB Trayion Durham, QB Colin Reardon, DT Roosevelt Nix, S Luke Wollet, LB Matt Dellinger
Observations: Kent State may be 2-3, but those losses came against No. 10 LSU, Penn State and Bowling Green, arguably the favorite in the MAC East. Archer was also hurt during the team’s season-opening win over Liberty and didn’t return until last week, where he averaged more than 12 yards a carry and had a receiving touchdown. Golden Flashes quarterback Colin Reardon, in his first year as a starter, has been efficient, throwing for 824 yards and six touchdowns with only two interceptions.
NIU coach Rod Carey’s take: “It’s going to be a tough game. Coach [Paul] Haynes has them going in the right direction and they’re going to be on cloud nine for us and ready to roll.”
Key stat: Nix has seven tackles for loss this season, and 65 in his career, which is a school record.
– Steve Nitz, firstname.lastname@example.org, @SNitz_DDC