National Signing Day live blog/open thread

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Sycamore's C.J. Compher (center) signs his National Letter of Intent to play football at Northern Illinois this morning at Sycamore High. (Jon Styf –

Well, here we are.

Welcome to National Signing Day.

This is our live blog/open thread, where we will update throughout the day with all of the news regarding the recruiting class headed to Northern Illinois. Feel free to leave comments, ask questions and discuss the NIU recruits.

First, click here for the rundown of what you can expect from today.

To get started with our coverage, here is a story on Romeoville linebacker Cameron Stingily, who is expected to sign with NIU today. Also, click here for a story on Geneva's Michael Santacaterina, who will walk on to NIU in the fall.

Don't forget, we'll have a live chat from 4-5 p.m. right here with Daily Chronicle sports reporter John Sahly. Enjoy signing day, everyone.

Updated 8 a.m: And we're off on signing day.

Sycamore's C.J. Compher will have his signing ceremony at 9 a.m. at Sycamore High. Sterling offensive lineman Tyler Loos will sign his National Letter of Intent to play college football at Northern Illinois at 11:30 a.m. at Sterling High School and Geneva defensive tackle Frank Boenzi will have his signing ceremony at 2 p.m. today.

Updated 8:10 a.m: NIU has confirmed five signees so far on its Web site. They are: Tyler Pitt, a 6-foot-6, 278-pound offensive lineman from McRae, Ga. The second is Indianapolis, Ind. offensive lineman Michael Gegner. Gegner, a 6-foot-3, 265-pound offensive lineman comes from Warren Central High School, the same high school that produced NIU left guard Jason Onyebuagu.

NIU has also confirmed that kicker Matthew Sims (Hannibal, Mo.), Kearney defensive end Joe Windsor (6-foot-1, 225 pounds) and Blake Goodell, a 6-foot-3, 265-pound offensive lineman from Traverse City, Mich. have sent in their letters of intent.

For more on Gegner, click here. For more on Goodell, click here.

Updated 8:30 a.m: I just got off the phone with Traverse City West High School coach Tim Wooer and here are a few things you might not have known about offensive lineman Blake Goodell.

"First, he has good genes," Wooer said.

Blake's father, Terry Goodell, started for Central Michigan in the 1980s and was a free agent that signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1985. A knee injury forced Goodell to retire.

Second, it appears Blake Goodell is as tough as they come.

"The one thing I could tell you is that about Week 6 this year, he came up to me at noon on a gameday, on a Friday and he's sobbing," Wooer said. "His foot had been hurting and he went to the doctor the night before to have it checked out, and it turns out he had been playing on a broken foot for 2-3 weeks. That tells you how tough he is."

Third, Goodell is still going through a growth spurt. Wooer said Goodell has grown three inches and 50 pounds in the past year.

"I think he's still going to continue to grow," Wooer said. "He's a tough kid. A fighter. By the same token once he steps off the field, very polite and courteous."

Updated 8:40 a.m: And NIU pulls off its first steal of the day.

NIU's Web site is reporting that Crete-Monee outside linebacker Greg Barksdale has sent in his National Letter of Intent to play for the Huskies. Barksdale had originally committed to Wyoming after receiving a scholarship offer from both Wyoming and NIU.

Here is what Barksdale (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) told back in October.

"NIU is also a really good football program plus it's really close to home," Barksdale said. "I made an unofficial visit for the Western Illinois game and I really enjoyed myself there. NIU offered me also as an outside linebacker about a week or so ago. It wasn't an easy decision for me with NIU."

It looks like something changed his mind.

NIU is also reporting that Loos has sent in his NLI and safety Dechane Durante and linebacker Mike Hellams has done the same. For more on Loos, click here. For more on Durante, click here and for more on Hellams, click here.

Updated 9:10 a.m: Just a reminder that NIU coach Jerry Kill's press conference is set for 1 p.m. today. What questions do you have for Kill? Leave them in the comments section or e-mail them to me at by noon and I'll take them with to the press conference.

Updated 9:20 a.m: Per NIU, Defensive back Jimmie Ward and wide receiver Da'Ron Brown have sent in their letters of intent. For more on Brown, click here.

Updated 9:29 a.m: NIU confirms you can add quarterback Casey Weston to the mix. Weston originally committed to Jacksonville State in 2008 but spent the past two years at Northwest Mississippi Community College.

Updated 9:42: Daily Chronicle sports editor Jon Styf reports that Sycamore's C.J. Compher has signed his National Letter of Intent to play football and faxed it to Northern Illinois. For more on Compher and Sycamore teammate Marckie Hayes, a preferred walk-on, headed to NIU, click here.

Updated 9:52 a.m: Do you need another reason to look forward to the NIU-Illinois game on Sept. 18? Vance ( Charlotte, N.C.) High School's Dechane Durante certainly has one.

Vance coach Phil Culicerto said that Illinois offered Durante a scholarship during his junior year and wanted him to commit early. After Durante decided to keep his options open and not commit early, Illinois called during the third week of Durante's senior season and rescinded the offer.

"That night he caught 14 balls for 250 yards, one was a 99-yard reception for a touchdown," Culicerto said of Durante, who also played wide receiver. "I think he was a little steamed."

Culicerto added that Durante has the ability to make an immediate impact for the Huskies, who travel to play the Fighting Illini in the third game of this season.

"Dechane is a gamer," Culicerto said. "The man comes up big for you. Always makes big plays. Go-to-guy. He did a lot of things for us this year. He came up with the big interception, the big return, the big catch, because he's supposed to."

Culicerto said Durante needs to add about 5-10 pounds of muscle before he can really be an impact player, but Durante is in a weight room program this semester and should be at least part of the way there by the time he steps foot on campus in DeKalb.

"I think [NIU] was the one that fit him," Culicerto said. "The fact that they wanted him. We're not talking redshirt. Talking to coach Kill and the staff, I believe they're looking for somebody to come in and help out right away. Dechane's the type of guy that can do that."

Updated 9:58 a.m: Romeoville linebacker Cameron Stingily just sent in his letter of intent. NIU is reporting that tight end Luke Eakes out of St. Marys, Kan. and Matt Battaglia have sent in their letters of intent.

Updated 10:14 a.m: And Jayme Wells to the football team is official. Wells' baseball scholarship will move to football next year and he will likely play wide receiver. We've written about Wells a few times and this is of little surprise. Wells the Associated Press' 2008 Wisconsin all-state football team at both wide receiver and defensive back.

Updated 10:33 a.m: Here is a quote from C.J. Compher, courtesy of Daily Chronicle sports editor Jon Styf, who was at Compher's signing ceremony this morning.

"I was sending out my tape a lot and getting ready to go to a lot of camps," Compher said. "I ended up going to NIU's camp and after that, I just knew that was the right decision for me. I felt so comfortable with the coaches."

Styf also reports that Compher feels like he will redshirt in 2010.

Compher also said this about teammate Marckie Hayes: "From here on, we're going to be roommates for the next five years or so."

And as for his coach working for his dad, athletic director Jeff Compher, C.J. had this to say.

"I know coach Kill and know that wouldn't matter at all," C.J. said. "And I wouldn't want it to because that's not what I'm about."

Updated 10:40 a.m: Here is the list of recruits so far according to NIU.

Greg Barksdale 6-2 210 LB Fr. University Park, Ill. (Crete-Monee) Matt Battaglia 6-4 270 OL So. Chicago, Ill. (Marist/Harper J.C.) C.J. Compher 6-1 230 TE Fr. Sycamore, Ill. (Sycamore) Akeem Daniels 5-7 170 ATH Fr. Kissimmee, Fla. (Osceola) Dechane Durante 6-2 195 S Fr. Charlotte, N.C. (Vance) Luke Eakes 6-4 230 TE Fr. St. Marys, Kan. (St. Marys) Michael Gegner 6-3 265 OL Fr. Indianapolis, Ind. (Warren Central) Blake Goodell 6-3 265 OL Fr. Traverse City, Mich. (Traverse City West) Mike Hellams 6-1 220 LB Fr. Bolingbrook, Ill. (Bolingbrook) Jasmin Hopkins 5-9 185 RB Jr. Stanley, N.C. (East Gaston/Fort Scott C.C. (Kan.)) Tyler Loos 6-6 270 OL Fr. Sterling, Ill. (Sterling) Tyler Pitt 6-6 278 OL Fr. McRae, Ga. (Telfair County) Mathew Sims 5-11 180 K Fr. Hannibal, Mo. (Hannibal) Cameron Stingily 6-2 240 LB Fr. Romeoville, Ill. (Romeoville) Demetrius Stone 5-11 190 DB So. Miami, Fla. (American Senior/Coffeyville C.C. (Kan.)) Jimmie Ward 6-0 180 DB Fr. Mobile, Ala. (Davidson) Jamison Wells 5-11 185 WR Fr. Combined Locks, Wis. (Kimberly) Casey Weston 6-2 215 QB Jr. Prattville, Ala. (Prattville/NW Mississippi J.C.) Joe Windsor 6-1 225 DE Fr. Kearney, Mo. (Kearney)

You can add Sycamore RB/DB Marckie Hayes and Geneva DB/LB Michael Santacaterina, who are preferred walk-ons, to the class as well.

Updated 11:17 a.m: NIU says it is waiting on one letter of intent, so we'll slow down here for the time being. Don't forget we're going to have a live chat here on from 4-5 p.m. with Daily Chronicle reporter John Sahly. Bring your questions and your comments on NIU's recruiting class.

Updated 11:30 a.m: Our 4 p.m. live chat will take place here.

Updated noon: And NIU has added linebacker Jamaal Bass to its roster. Bass is a 6-foot, 210-pound linebacker from Miramar, Fla.

That's it for our coverage this morning. We're going to take a short break and then head over Kill's news conference. Grab some lunch and join up with us again around 1 p.m.

Updated 12:55 p.m: Add a couple of names to the list.

P/K Tyler Anderson from Rockford Guilford. Anderson was an All-NIC 10 punter and kicker and a three year starter. As a senior, he punted 26 times and averaged 42 yards a punt with a long punt of 78 yards.

DB Zak Giller, a 6-foot-2, 195 pounder from Gregory, Mich. Giller was an all-conference and all-area choice as a safety.

Still no sign of Boenzi on the list. Boenzi is bound to come up at the news conference.

Updated 2:30 p.m: NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish might not be ready for spring football because of an injured right knee, coach Jerry Kill said after today's news conference. It is the same knee he injured during his sophomore season.

"It's a concern," Kill said. "It's a situation where he had surgery on it, then he came back and played three games and he still didn't feel like it was really right and he's had some problems since then. He's seen some doctors and they're evaluating the situation. We couldn't afford to take a chance. We're just not going to."

As for Harnish's availability for spring football, Kill said: "Don't know. They're evaluating that. As soon as I know exactly what's going to take place, I will have no problem telling you."

Harnish injured the knee against Toledo on Oct. 17 and missed the next three games. He played in the final four games of the season, starting with the second half against Ball State.

Spring practice begins March 23 for the Huskies.

Updated 2:57 p.m: An update on Geneva defensive tackle Frank Boenzi's status from The Chronicle sports editor Jay Schwab.

Geneva senior defensive tackle Frank Boenzi said he is still working toward gaining approval from the NCAA Clearinghouse to become eligible next year, but regardless, is committed to playing his college football at Northern Illinois.

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