Ben Niemann has never had the opportunity to be coached by his dad.
Through his youth football days and junior high games, Niemann always had his dad, Jay Niemann, who is Northern Illinois’ defensive coordinator, as a spectator rather than a coach.
So when the option came for Niemann to play for his dad in college, the Sycamore junior didn’t take long to jump at the opportunity, verbally committing to play football at NIU back in early October.
“My dad being there was a big part of it,” Niemann said. “Getting to play for him would be great. It’s close to home and it’s a great program, going to the the MAC Championship for the third straight year.”
Niemann was the area’s leading receiver in 2012. He recorded 876 receiving yards with 11 touchdowns in 11 games. He transferred to Sycamore when his family moved from Texas before his sophomore year.
Niemann said NIU is recruiting him as a wide receiver, but he has the potential to be an H-back.
“I’ll play receiver unless I grow into an H-back if I put on some weight,” Niemann said. “I’m tall enough for it, it just depends on my body, if I fill out. As of now I’m a receiver.”
Niemann is already familiar with playing in Huskie Stadium, having competed in the annual DeKalb - Sycamore rivalry game held at NIU’s home field each year. And the numbers prove he doesn’t mind the bright lights.
He recorded 110 yards receiving and three touchdowns against DeKalb in 2011 and followed it up with 133 yards receiving, two touchdowns and an interception in a 49-30 win over the Barbs in 2012.
Niemann, who was also drawing interest from schools such as Nebraska, Iowa State, Michigan, said committing early would allow him to focus on more team-oriented workouts during the offseason as opposed to attending numerous individual summer camps.
“I want to improve on a lot of different things. You can never be good enough,” Niemann said. “There’s a lot of room improvement. Me and my teammates, we’re going to work hard this offseason.”