Harrison Waylee of Des Moines, Iowa was originally excited about Northern Illinois football because the Huskies represented the first Division I program to offer the Urbandale High School running back.
“I was really grateful for that but as I got to know the coaching staff more personal it made me realize how much I (want to) be around those guys,” Waylee said.
A commitment to closeness and a relationship with Thomas Hammock’s staff gave Waylee a feeling of comfort.
“They make me feel like DeKalb will be the perfect home for me and I like coach Hammock. He makes the team feel like family and I want to be a part of that.”
Waylee joins large class of Huskies that committed Wednesday, totalling 23 players.
"I'm excited about our class," coach Thomas Hammock said. "We put a lot of work into it. It's 11 months to the day since I've been hired and this is a lot of hard work for my coaching staff to evaluate these players and get them looked at. We feel good about the group. We have some game changers in the group. Some guys that can come in and make plays."
Hammock said speed was a point of emphasis, and Waylee fit that criteria.
"The most important thing about Harrison Waylee is he's a 10.7 100-meter guy," Hammock said. "You have a guy that has documented speed that can help us in the return game. He can take it the distance form anywhere on the field. We feel good about him."
Highlighting the class were quarterback Dustin Fletcher of Flint, Michigan and running back Jevyon Ducker of Bellevue, Nebraska, both of who were three-star commits. The plan is for both to enrol in school in January. Ducker was the 2019 Nebraska Gatorade player of the year after running for 2,100 yards, 39 rushing touchdowns and six touchdowns receiving. Ducker is also Nebraska’s 11-player all-time leader in touchdowns with 110. Other standouts included safeties Eric Rogers of Burlington, New Jersey and Eddie Jackson of Miami, Florida.
As of Wednesday, recruiting service 247 sports ranked NIU's class fourth in the MAC, behind Bowling Green, Western Michigan and Miami.
“I’m excited to see the the running backs I’m (going to) be competing with and seeing what I can contribute to the team,” Waylee said. “And I’m excited to see if I’m the running back that coach Hammock’s been looking for, but more than anything I’m excited to be with really good players.”
That class includes the likes of Matthew Johnson, a defensive end out of West Aurora High School, Jack Hugunin, a defensive tackle out of Oswego High School.
The Huskies were also the first school to offer Hugunin.
"I really want to be able to make a positive impact in my hometown and state," Matthew Johnson said. "The education as well as the possible opportunities for me athletically and academically really went into my decision."
Johnson's brother Charles, is an NIU alum and Matthew has other friends and family who attend or have attended the University. Through discussions with his brother and his parents, he feels confident in pursuing his studies as a Marketing Business major. He committed back in March.
"My mom and dad both told me it would be a great decision as well as a smart one for my future considering it’s location and the education," the incoming Huskie said. "My older brother who is an alumni from there also said it’s a really good school. With the coaching staff, my mom and I could just tell that they were passionate about my future as a football player but more importantly as a young man. I also enjoyed the energy I felt from everyone in the program the first time I visited and committed that same day."
Daily Chronicle sports editor Eddie Carifio contributed to this report.