DeKALB – Juwan Brescacin always has been somebody who takes chances.
Growing up in Mississauga, Ontario – a suburb of Toronto – Brescacin decided to come stateside to attend Culver Military Academy in Indiana his final two years of high school.
Basketball also used to be the Northern Illinois junior receiver's No. 1 sport, but eventually football took over. It led him here, where he's looking to be a big part of the Huskies' offense this season.
"I've been trying to just make the most of my opportunities," Brescacin said after Tuesday's practice at Huskie Stadium. "So far it's paid off for me."
At one point, Brescacin saw a future in basketball. He played AAU ball in the Toronto area, seeing the same court as players such as Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Phoenix Suns guard Tyler Ennis and Sacramento Kings guard Nick Stauskas, who went to high school with Brescacin in Mississauga.
Brescacin was recruited to Culver primarily to play basketball. He had played football since grade school, but had started at offensive line. Listed at 6-foot-4, 224 pounds, he always was one of the bigger players.
He eventually played quarterback, and switched to receiver as a junior at Culver. He started getting collegiate interest his senior year, and knew football was his future.
"I saw the way the game of football was evolving, and big wide receivers were becoming a big deal," Brescacin said. "I just took a chance and it worked out for me. I got a [Division I] scholarship to NIU and we've had success so far, so it's great."
At the end of last season, it clicked for Brescacin. In a Nov. 20 win at Toledo, he had career highs with eight catches and 121 yards, and proceeded to have touchdown catches the final three games of the year.
It was just a matter of being more confident, and in turn the coaches saw confidence in him.
"Expectations for him have risen as a player. Instead of hoping to do things, he's expecting to do them," NIU coach Rod Carey said. "When you get confidence and expectations that meet in the same place, you usually get a pretty good player."
With his relative inexperience at receiver coming in, Brescacin was more of a raw talent. He always has had the size, but he's done a better job of getting open, and going up and attacking the ball.
NIU receivers coach Thad Ward said skills such as Brescacin's route running have taken a big step forward.
"Every year he gets better with that," Ward said. "He's a much better blocker than when he first started off."