One of the question marks for this year’s Northern Illinois football team will be at running back. After all, the top returning rusher from last season is junior Akeem Daniels, who had just 303 yards.
He’s been taking snaps with the first team throughout camp and should start out the season getting the majority of NIU’s carries.
Junior Leighton Settle took reps with both the first and second teams Tuesday and broke off some nice runs.
Giorgio Bowers, Cameron Stingily, Jamal Womble and James Spencer also saw second-team reps. Womble missed time last week due to class, so he wasn’t able to get into pads until Monday.
“I’d say right now Leighton’s probably a little ahead of the pack on big plays, but Akeem’s been very consistent,” NIU coach Dave Doeren said after Tuesday’s practice. “Stingily’s gotten a ton better. Jamal’s back in the swing of it now and he’s doing better. There’s a good competition in there right now with those four guys.”
Other notes and observations from Tuesday’s practice:
• Saw a number of good catches. Martel Moore had a very good one-handed grab, while Johnny Eagan and Perez Ashford made nice diving catches. Eagan was recruited as a quarterback but has been playing receiver in preseason practice.
• With starting center Logan Pegram out with a lower leg fracture, the first-team offensive line consisted of Ryan Brown and Matt Krempel at the tackle spots, Andrew Ness and Aidan Conlon playing guard and Michael Gegner taking Pegram’s spot at center. The tackle and guard spots have been consistent throughout the start of camp.
• Another injury note: redshirt freshman defensive end Cameron Clinton-Earl is out with a sprained knee. Doeren isn’t sure when he’ll be back, but said it will be before the season-opener.
• Middle linebacker Victor Jacques has been out with a leg injury, and redshirt freshman Boomer Mays has been in his spot with the first team. Mays played outside linebacker in the spring, so he’s still getting used to playing the middle linebacker position. Mays did play as a middle linebacker for the scout team last year.
“He’s a physical guy,” Doeren said. “He’s just got to get his assignments down, clean up a few things.”