DeKALB – A year ago around this time, Cameron Stingily was thinking about San Diego for a completely different reason.
Stingily wasn’t headed to the Poinsettia Bowl, where Northern Illinois will take on Utah State on Thursday evening.
The current NIU junior tailback had been frustrated. Stingily suffered a torn Achilles during the 2010 season and missed all of 2011, as well.
In the spring of 2012, he made the switch from linebacker to running back.
Last season, he was buried on the depth chart, getting just one rushing attempt.
Stingily was depressed with how things were going. He wanted greener pastures and warmer weather.
One day last season, he wanted to find out the top-line college campuses in the U.S., so he put it into Google.
What showed up was a college in San Diego, though Stingily can’t pinpoint which exact one. He was thinking about finding a new home and a new team, and figured it would be a good city to go to.
But that changed after a conversation with his father, Byron, swayed him away.
“He said ‘Stick with it, just keep working. Eventually, something has to give,’ ” Stingily said. “ ‘You’re working hard, coaches eventually are going to see that you’re working’ and stuff like that.”
Things did work out, and now Stingily is going to enjoy the warm weather in San Diego with the Huskies.
He’s the first NIU tailback to reach 1,000 yards since Chad Spann did so in 2010. Stingily currently has 1,081 yards, and is also improving his blocking.
“He’s coming along. We don’t ask him to do a ton of [blocking]. Sometimes he’ll block for Jordan (Lynch), some of his plays,” NIU offensive coordinator Bob Cole said. “He’s getting a lot better.”
When the coaching staff turned over last season following Dave Doeren’s departure, Stingily said it gave him a good opportunity to reinvent himself, show the coaches he’s a hard worker.
With Akeem Daniels and Keith Harris Jr. not participating in spring ball, it was a chance for Stingily to get some good reps. The reps continued in fall camp with Daniels still out while recovering from offseason foot surgery.
Stingily has been NIU’s starter ever since.
Getting to 1,000 yards wasn’t a blip on Stingily’s radar back in August, but now it’s reality.
“That wasn’t even a goal at the beginning of the year. I just wanted to get on the field and stay on the field,” he said. “All the other stuff, anything else after that was extra. I just wanted to be on the field and stay on the field.”