An injured quarterback made his triumphant return to full pads and full reps at practice this morning at Huskie Stadium.
I am, of course, talking about redshirt freshman Jordan Lynch, who returned from a cut throwing hand to throw at full speed on Thursday after being unable to throw for about two weeks.
You were expecting someone else?
In all seriousness, Chandler Harnish wore pads, did participate in more drills and threw some in 11-on-11 play this morning. He threw a couple of touchdown passes, ran well, rolled out of the pocket and in general looked comfortable out there. As I've written before, the situation is tenuous at best and it could all change tomorrow.
As for some of the specifics on Harnish's right knee injury, there aren't a whole lot. It's not, for example, a straight tear of something or a broken something else. Harnish's knee injury isn't really clearly defined, which is why he's seen multiple doctors and surgery is up in the air right now. That's what has made this process so complicated.
"I really can't explain it to you," NIU coach Jerry Kill said. "I've got to be honest with you and you're going 'Yeah, sure.' It has to do with a knee and I don't want to say (exactly) because I just don't know."
Kill later explained that if Harnish were to have the surgery that has been postponed for now, he would get some work done on his cartilage. Beyond that, it's still cloudy on what exactly is wrong with the knee.
"But I don't know how to really respond," Kill said. "It's not really an ACL. It's not an MCL. It's not a meniscus. It's a deal where I think it's got some uniqueness to it. He's gone to a couple different doctors, maybe even three. They've diagnosed it with what they think and what he should do. But then all of a sudden in the weight room he's working, lifting and running."
For now, Harnish continues to do some work in practice and the NIU training staff will read how he responds to that workload. Anything beyond that as far as his readiness for the fall is speculative.
"I don't know," Kill said. "We may have to take those kids and hit him in a scrimmage before it's all over with to see how it holds up. I just don't know and I'll listen to what the doctors say."
Here are a few other observations from Thursday's practice:
• After Tuesday's practice was rained out, Kill said it took a little bit of time for the Huskies to get back into things.
"When we first went out, I thought it was a little bit sluggish and we had to fight them a little bit for the first time in six practices," Kill said. "But then I think towards the end of practice, I thought the pace picked up and the kids played with some enthusiasm."
Some of that enthusiasm included the entire NIU offense celebrating together in one massive huddle/dogpile after touchdowns.
• Kill said several players stood out from this past Saturday's scrimmage, including quarterback DeMarcus Grady, running backs Cameron Bell, Jasmin Hopkins and Ricky Crider, cornerbacks Patrick George and Chris Smith, safety Garrett Barnas and defensive tackle Mike Krause.
"Patrick George has been really consistent," Kill said. "He had a really good bowl game and he's continued to play well. That's very important. Chris Smith has played very well."
• Lynch looked solid in his return to throwing.
• Wide receiver Martel Moore turned in his best practice of the spring, hauling in several good catches.
• Make sure to come back to HuskieWire.com later today for our latest "Football Basics" video. Today, we broke down five basic routes with wide receiver Landon Cox. I know we've built this as a video series that breaks down the basics of football, but I know I definitely learned a few things today about some of these routes. I think Cox has a future as a coach whenever his playing days end.
• Come back tomorrow for a story on sophomore linebacker Devon Butler.
• Finally, spring, get back here quickly. It was way too cold this morning.