John Rabe is a homebody. So when it came to choosing a Division-I school, the junior college tight end wanted to choose a campus and program that reminded him of his Iowa Falls, Iowa, roots.
Northern Illinois fit the bill.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Ellsworth (Iowa) Community College sophomore gave a verbal commitment to Huskies coach Jerry Kill last week.
"I really like that area," said Rabe, whose family is very active at Ellsworth. "I'm from a small town here in Iowa, and DeKalb reminded me a lot about it. It's also close enough to Chicago."
Rabe had two Division-II scholarship offers in high school, but after catching 25 passes for 488 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman last season, he earned offers from NIU and Central Michigan.
Iowa State was also showing high interest, but Rabe wanted to make a decision before the start of his sophomore season at Ellsworth.
Rabe, who claims a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, said he will enroll at NIU this winter and practice with the team during the spring. He will compete with Jason Schepler, Jack Marks and Adam Coleman – all of whom will be seniors during the 2011 season – for playing time.
"I really like the middle of the field," said Rabe. "That's where I've had most of my long catches.
"I can outrun linebackers. When I need to I can block tight ends. That's a big part of my game here, stretching the ball downfield because when I can catch the ball that opens up the wide receivers."