DeKALB – When Garrett Wolfe was running the ball and setting records at Northern Illinois, the spot where the Chessick Center now sits was one big field.
When Wolfe was running all over the Mid-American Conference as a senior in 2006, he remembers 18-wheelers in the end zone when the Yordon Center was being constructed. It opened the next season.
Friday night, Wolfe and other former Huskies with NFL experience were in DeKalb for the X’s and O’s with the Pros Men’s Football clinic.
Wolfe, who is set to earn a master’s degree from NIU in sports management in May and hopes to earn his master’s in business administration in December, didn’t get to utilize either facility, but he still cherishes what they’ve done for the current crop of NIU players.
“The first time I walked in here, I cried, because I knew what went into this. I knew the promises that were made to get kids to come here because of the thought of these buildings,” Wolfe said. “To actually see them here, it’s incredible. I hadn’t gotten used to [the Yordon Center] yet. On top of it, we get this. It’s better than anything I’ve seen, which is impressive.”
Other Huskies’ pros and former pros in attendance Friday were Alan Baxter, who is on the Indianapolis Colts roster, Tim Tyrrell (the 1983 Mid-American Conference MVP), Pat Schiller, Brad Cieslak, Ryan Diem, Dan Graham, who played center for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1989, and Sycamore graduate Jason Schepler, who is a member of the Tennessee Titans.
The pros visited with participants and took part in question-and-answer sessions.
“I train here, I talk to [director of football operations Matt Lipman] once a week and he said it would be cool if I could come out here,” Schepler said. “I thought it would be really cool to come out and help the community, see everybody. Get a chance to talk.”
Schepler signed with the Titans in December. He got back from strength and conditioning workouts Thursday in Nashville, and will head back there on April 26.
Baxter spent training camp and part of last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was released in October before signing with the Colts practice squad in December. He was signed to a reserve/futures contract with Indianapolis in January.
Baxter, who was a defensive end at NIU and has spent his brief NFL career at outside linebacker, is working on making the switch to inside linebacker with the Colts.
“It’s been a good one. It’s a different world, but it’s good,” he said. “I’m learning drop coverages, stuff I haven’t done before.”