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LIVE BLOG: National Signing Day

NIU's 2013 class is revealed today

Aurora Christian's Brandon Mayes (left, diving) is one of several high school players to sign a letter of intent Wednesday to play for Northern Illinois.
Aurora Christian's Brandon Mayes (left, diving) is one of several high school players to sign a letter of intent Wednesday to play for Northern Illinois.

Click here for a link to Steve Nitz's National Signing Day live blog.

1 p.m.: First of all, if you have a question about signing day, tweet it to me (@SNitz_DDC) or to @HuskieWire. I'll answer it in a video later today.

I've already talked about Aurora Christian running back Joel Bouagnon, one of three Eagles in the Huskies' Class of 2013.

Here's some more info on wide receiver Chad Beebe and safety Brandon Mayes.

Aurora Christian coach Don Beebe, Chad's father, said his son is the best route runner he's seen in high school. Chad Beebe (5-9, 165 pounds), had 65 catches for 980 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior despite being injured part of the season.

"Chad's like a Wes Welker-type player," Don Beebe said. "He'll catch everything (thrown) to him."

Mayes played corner, safety and even some linebacker for Aurora Christian, and NIU lists him as a safety, which Don Beebe said is his best fit.

"He's got great instincts to the football," Beebe said. "Tremendous attitude to tackle and getting into the mix with guys."

For more on these two, check out our video interviews with Beebe and Mayes.

We'll also have a story on all three of Aurora Christian's NIU signees on in Thursday's Daily Chronicle.

12:30 p.m.: According to Fox Sports recruiting reporter Beth Long, Glenbard West defensive end Ruben Dunbar will hold off on his decision on where to sign.

NIU is one of a number of schools to offer Dunbar, a player with a lot of BCS interest.

Rivals has Dunbar as a three-star recruit, and the 6-3, 235-pounder also has offers from Arizona State, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indian, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, N.C. State, Oklahoma State and Toledo, according to the site.

12 p.m.: If you haven't already, check out our Signing Day Central page, which has all of our signing day stories and videos. Make sure to check and Thursda's Daily Chronicle for all our coverage from today.                                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                                                                     A few names who haven't really been mentioned around the Huskies faxed in their letters of intent today.

Here's some info on some of the newer names -

Nick Calhoun, OL: Oshkosh, Wisc. native actually didn't play football until his senior season, he was a hockey player for nine years before playing football at Lourdes Academy, where he was named team MVP in 2012.

Nick Cieslak, QB: Had 3,469 yards and 33 touchdowns in his career at Kettle Moraine High School in Waukesha, Wisc. Threw for 1,117 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior.

Justin Corbett, DB: Member of Lincoln-Way East's 2012 Class 7A state runner-up team also had 28 catches for 426 yards and 84 carries for 596 yards as a senior.

Jake Heckel, TE: Played both sides of the ball for Waukesha (Wisc.) West High School. Caught four passes for 50 yards and two touchdowns as a senior.

Zeb McLaurin, DB:
Had 48 tackles, 10 pass breakups, five blocked kicks and three fumble recoveries as a senior at Chicago St. Ignatius.

Jamaal Payton, LB:
Was a two-time all-state selection and also played running back at Proviso West High School in Hillside. Had 375 tackles, 16 forced fumbles, 13 pass breakups, seven interceptions, four blocked kicks and two fumble recoveries his senior year.

Ryan Stendler, TE: Team MVP at Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisc., where he helped the Highlanders to a Division 2 state title.

Aregeros Turner, athlete: three-star prospect ran for 4,742 yards and scored 79 touchdowns in his career. Had 13 carries for 1,378 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior. Was named team MVP at Copley High School each of his four years.

11:30 a.m.: One late steal for NIU was Alpharetta (Ga.) wideout Malik Mitchell.

Mitchell, who ESPN ranks as a three-star recruit, was also recruited by Toledo and Western Michigan. Alpharetta Milton coach Gary Sylvestri said Mitchell was recruited by new Huskie wide receivers coach Thad Ward, when Ward was at Western Michigan.

Ward continued to recruit Mitchell to NIU, and he committed last week.

Sylvestri commented on Mitchell's physicality, and said he's got a ton of potential at the collegiate level.

"His upside's amazing right now. He's a physical player," Sylvestri said. "His top speed is one of his biggest assets. He blocks well, he's obviously a very tall young man. He's a track kid so he's got great stride."

11 a.m.: Still three-and-a-half hours until Rod Carey's press conference at the Yordon Center, where the official Class of 2013 will be unveiled.

Here's the class so far, according to NIU's website:

Jackson Abresch    DB    6-1    185    Hartland, Wis.

Mycial Allen    DB    6-0    183    Detroit, Mich.

Chad Beebe    WR    5-9    165    Aurora, Ill.

Joel Bouagnon    RB    6-2    225    Aurora, Ill.

Tate Briggs    OL    6-4    297    Naperville, Ill.

Nick Calhoun    OL    6-5    308    Oshkosh, Wis.

Nick Cieslak    QB    6-3    170    Waukesha, Wis.

Justin Corbett    DB    6-2    205    Frankfort, Ill.

Sean Folliard    LB    6-2    215    Crystal Lake, Ill.

Jake Heckel    TE    6-3    235    Waukesha, Wis.

Blake Holder    WR    6-2    195    Streamwood, Ill.

Jordan Huff    RB    5-11    205    Mobile, Ala.

Robert Jones    LB    6-0    210    Miami Gardens, Fla.

Ben Maruska    OL    6-4    285    Fond Du Lac, Wis.

Brandon Mayes    DB    5-11    182    Aurora, Ill.

Zeb McLaurin    DB    5-11    180    Chicago, Ill.

Malik Mitchell    WR    6-4    181    Alpharetta, Ga.

Jamaal Payton    LB    6-0    220    Bellwood, Ill.

Draco Smith    DB    5-9    185    Hammond, Ind.

Ryan Stendler    TE    6-4    250    Mequon, Wis.

Aregeros Turner    ATH    5-11    170    Copley, Ohio

Shane Wimann    TE    6-4    225    Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

10:30 a.m.: First of all, if you haven't already, check out our Signing Day Central page, which features plenty of stories and videos, as well as bios from NIU's Class of 2013.

Some more stuff from Tom Lemming for you. He had some pretty high thoughts on Streamwood wide receiver Blake Holder, who committed to NIU in June and had 28 catches for 430 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. Holder did play in a running offense, so his numbers weren't what they could have been.

Holder's listed at 6-2, 195 pounds. Here's what Lemming had to say about him: "Blake Holder plays very close to where I live and I’ve seen him play. I think he’s a big-time player, but I think he has the ability possibly to become an NFL player someday. He’s got the size and the hands and he can run."

One more note: Four new players to add to the Class of 2013, offensive lineman Ben Maruska (Fon Du Lac, Wisc.), tight end Ryan Stendler (Mequon, Wisc.), defensive back Draco Smith (Chicago Mt. Carmel) and wideout Malik Mitchell (Alpharetta, Ga.).

10:00 a.m.: Montini offensive lineman Tate Briggs (6-4, 297 pounds) had scholarship offers from Ball State, Central Michigan, Coastal Carolina, New Mexico and Western Michigan.

However, Briggs wanted to keep his options open leading up to signing day, and didn't want to commit to a program and end up backing out.

Some of Briggs' other scholarship offers ended up getting filled, and he took a preferred walk-on spot at NIU after visiting last weekend.

Montini coach Chris Andriano said the only offensive lineman who's been better than Briggs with the Broncos is Garrett Goebel, who just finished his career at Ohio State where he was a defensive lineman.

Andriano said Briggs liked NIU's facilities, campus and coaching staff. Andriano added that Briggs has the typical offensive lineman mentality.

"He's physically very strong, he's benching close to 400 pounds," Andriano said. "He's been spending his time in the weight room the right way and doing the right things."

9:30 a.m.: Earlier this week, Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson talked with national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming about the Huskies' Class of 2013.

Lemming had some high praise for the class, and liked the fact NIU recruited the Chicago area so well.

"They zeroed in on skill players, which is sometimes what you need. Next year I’m sure they’ll have a lot more scholarships to give so I think everything should be geared towards the 2014 class," Lemming said. "They can play off the success of this past year and also they’ll have more scholarships to give so they can really decide things. That could be the class that could actually lead them back to a BCS game within the next couple years."

9:00 a.m.: One interesting aspect of the Huskies' Class of 2013 is the three players from one school — running back Joel Bouagnon, safety Brandon Mayes and wide receiver Chad Beebe from Aurora Christian, the back-to-back IHSA Class 3A state champions.

I talked with Eagles head coach Don Beebe, the Kaneland graduate and former NFL wideout, about the three prospects last night, and Bouagnon is certainly an interesting one with his great size (6-2, 225 pounds).

Beebe said Bouagnon, who transferred from Burlington Central for his senior season, is a "dynamic" football player. Bouagnon has great size, as Rivals lists him at 6-2, 225 pounds.

"To be honest with you he could probably play linebacker too at the collegiate level. But they want that big back with downhill running and certainly Joel's that type of guy," Beebe said. "He's a big boy. He'll run you over and he's tough to bring down. I wouldn't be shocked if he's playing a little bit even next year."

In January, I went out to Aurora Christian and sat down with Bouagnon in this video interview.

8:30 a.m.: Copley (Ohio) three-start running back Aregeros Turner has officially signed with NIU. One of 17 names to sign with the Huskie so far.

Turner, who decommitted from Cincinnati back in December, had six BCS offers, so he's a good get for the Huskies. According to ESPN, new NIU running backs coach Roy Manning recruited Turner at Cincinnati. NIU's Twitter account lists him as an athlete, so we'll see exactly where he ends up.

Jerseyville, Ill. QB Mitch Kimble originally committed to the Huskies before switching to Syacuse, but there will be a quarterback in this class - Oconomowoc, Wisc. signal-caller Nick Cieslak, who was mainly recruited by Football Championship Subdivision schools, according to Rivals.

Here's NIU's list of signees so far: Aregeros Turner (RB), Jordan Huff (RB), Jamaal Payton (LB), Mycial Allen (S), Shane Wimann (TE), Jake Heckel (TE), Blake Holder (WR), Robert Jones (LB), Brandon Mayes (S), Zeb McLaurin (CB), Jackson Abresch (DB), Chad Beebe (WR), Tate Briggs (OL), Joel Bouagnon (RB), Nick Calhoun (OL), Justin Corbett (S), Nick Cieslak (QB).

8:00 a.m.: It's finally here.

At 2:30 p.m., Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey will announce his first recruiting class during a news conference at the Yordon Center.

Throughout the morning, I'll have updates on the commits who have faxed in their letters of intent to NIU. I've also been able to speak to some coaches who have prospects signing with the Huskies today, and Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson was able to speak with national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, who had some high praise for NIU's Class of 2013. I'll be updating the blog with comments from both Lemming and the high school coaches.

NIU's full recruiting class will be posted as soon as possible with updates from the news conference, and I'll give my thoughts on the group later this evening.

If you have a question about National Signing Day, tweet it to me (@SNitz_DDC) or our @HuskieWire account, and I'll answer it in a video this evening.

And of course, be sure to check out all our coverage from signing day in Thursday's Daily Chronicle and on

To get your day started, check out our Signing Day Central page.

— Steve Nitz,, @SNitz_DDC on Twitter

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