The names are new, but NIU hopes the production remains the same on the inside of Northern Illinois’ offensive line.
With center Eddie Adamski and left guard Jason Onyebuagu graduated and trying their hands at the NFL, the Huskies have two major holes to fill. Scott Wedige had been the center waiting in the wings for what seemed like forever, and he stepped into the starting role without a hitch this spring. Look for No. 71 to pick up where Adamski left off.
Left guard belongs to Ed Jackson for now, but five new freshmen offensive linemen will step on campus this summer, creating a lot of competition not only at left guard, but among all the positions at various points on the depth chart.
So, to close out the spring for the road-graders up front, let’s hand out some awards for the spring for NIU’s offensive linemen.
MVP: Trevor Olson
What a comfort Olson has been for the Huskies in two seasons. He’s started every game and has only improved at left tackle. Olson got better again this spring and the battles between him and defensive ends Alan Baxter, Sean Progar and Darnell Bolding have been fun to watch.
Most improved: Ed Jackson
It’s been a long road for Jackson, who started his career on the defensive side of the ball and actually made two starts at defensive tackle in 2007.
Since then, he moved to offense after the 2008 season and had to start at the bottom of the pile again. This spring, Jackson lined up with the first team at left guard and didn’t let go of that spot, which says a lot about how Jackson has improved. The job is his to lose.
Breakout star: Scott Wedige
If the road was long for Jackson, it has seemed even longer for Wedige. He sat behind Eddie Adamski for three years and now the starting center’s job is his. He responded with a fantastic spring, showing what he had learned from Adamski and applying it well. Wedige is someone NIU should be able to plug in at center for the next two seasons and not worry.
Needs to improve: The entire second line
Although the first line looks fine for the moment for NIU, depth is a concern at offensive line. The huge recruiting class will alleviate some of that, but the Huskies will have some young and inexperienced depth on its line to start the season. Redshirt freshman Matt Krempel and Jared Volk have done OK and Keith Otis has gotten better, but an injury to one of the starters could be disastrous for NIU.
Post-spring depth chart: Starters: LT Trevor Olson, LG Ed Jackson, C Scott Wedige, RG Joe Pawlak, RT Adam Kiel. Backups: LT/RT Keith Otis, LG/RG Logan Pegram, LG/RG Kyle Jenkins, C/LG Jared Volk, RT Matt Krempel.
Depth for season opener: The starters will remain the same and Volk and Krempel seem to be pretty set at center and right tackle. With five offensive linemen coming in, who knows what the second line of the depth chart will look like.
Quotable: “I kind of knew we were in pretty good hands last year against Idaho when Eddie got banged up and Scott went in and you never really saw the point of when Eddie came out and when Scott went in. I thought, ‘You know, we’re going to be OK.’ “ – Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Matt Limegrover on center Scott Wedige.