Brian Smith put up dazzling numbers as a freshman pitcher for Northern Illinois in 2005. He had six wins, three complete games and an ERA of 2.85. The next season, his ERA jumped to 6.03 and he needed surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow.
He hasn’t thrown a pitch for the Huskies since 2006, but after getting another year of eligibility, Smith will be back, NIU coach Ed Mathey said Monday.
Smith will join pitcher Andy Deain, who got a medical redshirt after a line drive broke his finger and ended his season against Southeast Missouri State in mid-March. Deain has been cleared to start throwing again.
“Brian was our No. 1 pitcher three years ago,” Mathey said. “It’s kind of like bonus guys. We’re optimistic but with overcoming injuries you never know. We’re cautiously optimistic.”
NIU’s team ERA was 7.29 this season, and injuries played a large role in that. Deain and senior Brandon Copp missed significant time and a total of 10 pitchers made at least one start for the 19-34 Huskies.
Look for a story in Tuesday’s Daily Chronicle on NIU outfielder Jordin Hood as the Major League Baseball Draft begins Tuesday and runs through Thursday.