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Harnish sporting a new look at practice

DeKALB – Chandler Harnish wanted to send a message. He was tired of being called a pretty boy. The name has stuck his entire life.

So the Northern Illinois quarterback took drastic measures.

Harnish started growing a beard.

“I figured a little bit of a beard to kind of give the persona that I’m not a pretty boy whatsoever,” Harnish said, rubbing his chin. “I’m going to take hits, I’m going to run the ball. I’ll do anything, whatever I have to do to help the team win.”

Harnish quickly admitted that’s only part of the truth. Like most male college students, there’s another reason scruffy facial hair covers his cheeks.

“I get lazy,” Harnish admitted. “I don’t like to shave my face. I clean it up a little bit around the chin line, but I’m not into looking – I want to look good – but I don’t have to be a pretty boy by any means.”

The beard is only a couple weeks old. Will Harnish keep it all season, growing it out like the epic facial hair of San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson?

“I don’t think I’m going to commit to that,” Harnish said, laughing. “But again, I’m not so much about the looks, just coming out and winning football games.”

Searching for a No. 2 RB: Coach Dave Doeren knows Jasmin Hopkins is the best running back on his team. After that, he still is trying to figure things out.

Near the end of Thursday afternoon’s practice, Doeren said he still is waiting for a player to step up and assume NIU’s backup running back position. The candidates during fall camp have been Jamal Womble, Akeem Daniels and Leighton Settle.

“Behind Jaz, we’ve got to get a consistent guy,” Doeren said. “I want to be able to trust a guy. I want him to have great ball security every time they run. I want them to do exactly what (running backs) coach (Eddie) Faulkner is telling them to do every snap.”

Olson playing with broken hand:
Left tackle Trevor Olson has practiced the past couple days with a broken left hand.

It’s just a small hairline fracture, and he’s not in danger of missing the season opener – because he’s practicing now. It’s being protected with padding that makes his hand look more like a club. When his teammates did conditioning up-downs, Olson did sit-ups to alleviate the stress on his hand.

Still, with all the reps he’s taking, it’s a good example of toughness.

“They’re protecting his hand pretty heavily right now, but by the time we get to gameday all that stuff won’t be on there,” Doeren said. “But he’s good. It’s a small fracture, and it’s going to heal real fast.”

Doeren also discussed redshirt freshman offensive tackle Tyler Loos, who tore his ACL on Wednesday morning and will be out this season. Loos was backing up Olson. Tyler Pitt was moved from defensive line to add depth at offensive tackle. Pitt is a natural offensive lineman.

“It was real clean. The doctors are real optimistic about his ability to fix him up and get him back to us next year,” Doeren said. “Any time you lose a guy it’s a big loss, and he was playing well. He was playing confident. So it hurts our depth. ... But like I tell the guys, any time a guy goes down it’s a next-man-in mentality, and that’s what we’ll do.”

Kansas game to be televised:
NIU’s game at Kansas on Sept. 10 will be televised on Fox College Sports, giving the Huskies 10 games on TV this fall. Eight of those games will be shown on ESPN networks. NIU’s homecoming game Oct. 15 against Western Michigan will be televised on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

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