DeKALB – The Northern Illinois football team continues to feel the benefits from its appearance in the 2013 Orange Bowl.
Just more than three years after their appearance in the BCS Bowl, the Huskies added five more players from Florida in their National Signing Day on Tuesday afternoon at the NIU Convocation Center.
"I know it's a ways back now, but I think the Orange Bowl three years ago and the Boca (Raton) Bowl two years ago – we get a warm reception down there and we have a lot of ties down there," Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey said. "We've grown to know a lot of coaches down there. Recruiting is a relationship business."
The Huskies, who signed 22 players on the day, have now signed 12 players from the coveted state of Florida in the past three seasons – the top of that crop likely being cornerback Shawun Lurry (West Palm Beach), who was an All-American last season as a sophomore. The 22 recruits on Tuesday came from nine different states – including the five from Florida and one from Georgia.
"We're a national brand and we recruit as such," Carey said.
One of the five Florida guys on Tuesday was freshman wide receiver Andrew Parchment, out of Fort Lauderdale. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound receiver – a three-star recruit on 247 Sports and two-star on Scout – originally committed to Cincinnati, which went 7-6 overall last season.
However, Parchment decommitted in early January before taking an official visit with Northern Illinois on Jan. 23 and committing shortly thereafter.
The receiver cited a good relationship with wide receivers coach Thad Ward and a history with Northern Illinois cornerback Albert Smalls (Miramir) with his decision to select the Huskies.
"We would go back and forth and he said it was a good place and we have a chance to do something special, that they do a lot of winning," Parchment said.
Parchment added he remembers seeing the Huskies as part of the 2013 Orange Bowl. Carey also had high praise for Parchment on Tuesday,
"Yes, he's big, yes, he's skilled, yes, he runs fast – all of those things – but want to talk about a very impressive young man?" Carey said. "Well-spoken, well-mannered. Fierce, fierce competitor but is a 'we before me' guy."
Of the five players the Huskies got from Florida, three were offensive skill guys – Parchment, wide receiver Jordan Robinson (6-foot-3, 175 pounds, Miami), and athlete Ivan Smith (5-foot-11, 170 pounds, Homestead).
All four of the Huskies offensive linemen that signed on Tuesday were from the Midwest, one from each of Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and Wisconsin.
"It's a way big generality to say – because there are guys here (in the Midwest) that are fast, too, and there are guys in Florida that are big and physical, too – if you look at it in general, you're going to say you want your bodies to come from here and your legs and arms to come from Florida because of the sheer population," Carey said.
Defensively, the Huskies nabbed safety Lance DeVeaux Jr. (6-foot, 190 pounds, Fort Lauderdale) and junior college defensive end transfer Alton Meeks (6-foot-3, 244 pounds, Orlando).
While Carey added five more Florida players, he also added his second player from Georgia that he landed in his four National Signing Days since taking over as the head coach. Quarterback Marcus Childers signed on as a freshman out of Adairsville, Georgia, after spending last season as a grey shirt (not enrolling) at Memphis.
"He's going to be 5-year guy," Carey said. "His clock has not started yet."