Northern Illinois Rakes in 2009 Recruits

NIU head football Coach Jerry Kill announced his 2009 recruiting class, which contains 24 prospects stretching across eight states from Wisconsin to Florida and covering nine positions, on Wednesday as part of College Football's annual National Signing Day.

It is Kill's second recruiting class and the first following his initial season at the helm of the Huskies. Northern Illinois finished the season at 6-7, 5-3 in MAC play while earning a postseason berth in the Independence Bowl.

"There isn't anybody on this list that I don't feel isn't going to be an impact on our football team at one time or another," said Kill. "They have the ability to do that. There is some athleticism in this class. There is no question."

The class includes three new names in addition to 21 verbal commitments previously reported by and

New to the list were linebacker Jordan Delegal, linebacker Tyrone Clark, and lineman Jon Phillips.

Delegal is a Miami, Florida native from Joliet (Illinois) Junior College, who originally committed to North Carolina State out of high school.

Clark is from Mehlville High School near St. Louis, Missouri.

Phillips is an offensive and defensive lineman from Dixon, Illinois.

The class includes 10 players from the state of Illinois.

The signees list features 13 defenders, 10 offensive players, a kicker and a punter. Fifteen members of the class earned all-state recognition during their prep careers and three of the junior college additions were named J.C. All-Americans last year.

In addition to the 10 players from Illinois, Northern Illinois inked six recruits from Florida and two each from Wisconsin and Texas. Huskie coaches also mined talent in Missouri, Ohio, Indiana and Arizona.

After Kill's inaugural campaign ended with a trip to the Independence Bowl as NIU made its fourth postseason appearance in the last five years, he and his coaching staff addressed some specific position needs while also looking to upgrade the team's overall speed with the 2009 signing group.

"The biggest thing is, we recruited some strength, some length and some speed along with good character," Kill said. "What I feel good about as a coach is we have personal connections to these kids. We've seen them, we've had them in camp and that certainly makes you feel good as a coach."

In addition to Northern Illinois' traditional recruiting focus in Chicagoland, Wisconsin and surrounding states, the NIU staff signed a school-record six Floridians and used its connections to the high school coaching community across the country to nab a pair of receivers out of San Antonio, Texas.

"Northern Illinois has certainly had kids from Florida and from Texas before, and just like in this situation, it's a matter of personal connections," Kill said. "As far as the two kids from Texas, their coach is a young man that played for me and was close to [NIU Assistant] Coach [Tracy] Claeys so that helped us. The Florida connection is something we've built over the 1ast 10-12 years. Then we went to the traditional areas where we've had so much success in the past."

Kill added that there are local ties to the recruits from Florida. "Four of those six have family in Chicago."

The largest group of newcomers for the Huskies in 2009 - seven - play on defensive line where NIU's losses include two-time MAC Vern Smith Leadership Award winner Larry English and starters Alex Krutsch and Craig Rusch. Northern Illinois added four recruits at wide receiver after the graduation of five seniors at that position following the 2008 campaign. Three junior college signees, including Driscoll High School and Harper College product Kyle Jenkins, Arizona punter Josh Wilber and defensive back Chris Smith, are already on campus and will participate in spring drills.

"The big thing we try to do is recruit athletic ability," Kill said. "We tried to replace what we had to fill and then looked a year ahead at what we may need and tried to catch up in the positions we needed. We signed seven defensive linemen, but some of those kids can do other things. We had to sign four receivers because we lost five, and we lost three senior cornerbacks, so we replaced them. At linebacker, we were looking for a little different style of player because of the spread offenses we face, so that was a need for us."

Overall, Kill was pleased with the student-athletes he and his staff were able to attract to Northern Illinois after a full year on the job.

"Last year, Joe [Novak] and his staff left us a great base and the recruits that committed and came here were very good," Kill said. "This is really our first recruiting class that we worked with throughout the year. We had a lot of people help us - certainly our first full year of selling the Yordon Center was beneficial. Our administration did a great job during the recruiting weekends - from the professors and deans to [NIU Director of Admissions] Bob Burke, who was here every weekend. It took a really good team effort to put this class together and it goes a lot farther than just the coaches."

The Huskies, who are currently going through their winter workout program, return to the practice field on March 24 with the kickoff of spring practice. The 2009 Spring Game is scheduled for Saturday, April 25 at 1 p.m. at Huskie Stadium.

Be sure to check out for video highlights of prospects like linebacker Devon Butler from Miramar, Florida and wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez from Miami, Florida. Also, check out our forums for more details on individual recruits.

2009 Northern Illinois Football Signees

Zach Anderson, 6-2, 285, DL, Fr., Ladysmith, Wis. (Ladysmith HS)

Earned first-team all-state honors by the Associated Press, Eau Claire Leader and the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association. Shrine Bowl participant served as team captain and was elected team MVP as a senior. Two-time WFCA All-Northwest first team and three-time first-team all-conference selection. Saw action on both sides of the line and at fullback. Recorded 66 tackles, 16 sacks, caused eight fumbles, recovered seven and blocked two kicks as a senior. Ran the ball 20 times for 150 yards and scored twice. Twelve-time letterwinner in football, wrestling and track. As a wrestler, is a three time state placewinner at 285 pounds with 106 career pins and a 152-21 record to date. Also on the mat, is a two-time Greco-All American and Greco National placewinner, and holds the fastest pin in Wisconsin at four seconds. As a track and field athlete, qualified twice for the state championships in the shot put and once in the discus.

Perez Ashford, 5-10, 180, WR, Fr., Shaker Heights, Ohio (Shaker Heights HS)

Earned first-team all-state honors in his junior year, compiling 930 yards and 12 touchdowns on 56 catches. Garnered second-team all-state recognition as a senior after totaling 760 yards and three touchdowns on 46 catches. Team captain ran the ball seven times for 210 yards and one touchdown, and tallied 38 tackles and seven pass deflections as a defensive back that year. Named first-team all-conference in each of his three years as a starter, and earned first-team all-area recognition twice, in addition to being named to the all-area second team as a sophomore. Racked up 38 catches for 560 yards and six touchdowns that year. In his career, recorded 2,250 receiving yards on 140 receptions for an average of 15.7 yards per catch, and scored 21 touchdowns, and holds the school record in all four categories. Selected to participate in Ohio's Big 33 All-Star Game. Captained the track and field team in addition to his work on the gridiron.

Alan Baxter, 6-0, 231, DE, Fr. Buffalo Grove, Ill. (Buffalo Grove HS)

Named to the Daily Herald Northwest Suburban All-Area team and received IHSA All-State honorable mention as a senior. Selected to play in the IHSA Coaches' All-Star game. Team captain and MVP earned all-conference and all-area honors during his junior and senior seasons. Named the Daily Herald's Mid-Suburban East Co-Defensive Player of the Year after recording 78 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and seven sacks during his senior season. Was a three-year starter for the Bison, playing on the defensive line, offensive line, at fullback and as a tight end. Also competed in track and field.

Devon Butler, 5-11, 215, LB, Fr., Pembroke Pines, Fla. (Everglades HS)

Named to the Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel All-Broward County first team senior year. Team's defensive MVP garnered first-team all conference honors as a senior and second-team mention as a junior. Selected to play in the 12th annual NIKE South Florida All-Star Football Game. Recorded 115 tackles, eight sacks, four recovered fumbles, two interceptions, two blocked kicks and scored a school-record six defensive touchdown as a senior. Tallied 113 tackles with 11 sacks, three blocked kicks and one fumble recovery as a junior. Added 72 tackles with three sacks during his sophomore season, helping his team to a district title. Also played fullback as a junior. Totaled 38 yards on 12 carries with four touchdowns on the ground, and added one catch for one yard and a score.

Tyrone Clark, 5-11, 205, LB, Fr., St. Louis, Mo. (Mehlville HS)

Named to the Missouri High School Class 6 Defensive All-State Team. Earned first-team all-conference honors as a junior and senior. Played safety and running back and helped lead his team to the state championship game and a 10-3 record his junior year. Team captain and MVP recorded 62 tackles, 49 solo, one sack, three forced fumbles and three interceptions as a senior. As a tailback that year, rushed the ball 151 times for 789 yards and eight touchdowns. During his junior year, totaled 61 tackles with three sacks and two interceptions. Ran the ball 104 times for 744 yards and 20 touchdowns and caught 11 passes for 218 yards and five scores. Tallied 42 tackles, 30 solo, and two interceptions as a sophomore.

Jordan Delegal, 6-1, 200, LB, Jr., Miami, Fla. (Chaminade Madonna HS/Joliet JC)

Joliet J.C.: Earned JUCO All-American Honorable Mention status after being named first-team all-conference and all-region. Totaled 58 tackles with 45 solo to go with two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one sack. Served as team captain on the defensive side.

High School: All-state second team member played in the Dade vs. Broward County All-Star Game. Served as team captain as a senior, garnering first-team all-conference and all-region accolades. Totaled 75 tackles, with five sacks, four forced fumbles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries that year. Helped the Lions to an 11-2 record and the state championship as a senior. Earned second team all-conference honors as a junior, leading his team to a 10-2 record and the state title game. Tallied 42 tackles, with two pass break-ups and one fumble recovery that year. Lions went 45-7 in his four seasons with the team with four district championships.

Sean Evans, 5-11, 170, CB, Fr., Ft. Walton Beach, Fla. (Ft. Walton Beach HS)

Named a first-team all-area and all-conference defensive back in 2008. Recorded 39 tackles, including 29 solo. Added three pass break ups, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one blocked punt. Selected to play in the Pensacola Sports Association East-West Game in 2008. Helped his team to a 10-2 record, conference and district championships, and the region 4A title game. Also played wide receiver, totaling eight catches for 120 yards and a touchdown during his final season. Garnered honorable mention accolades during the national underclassmen combine in 2007. As a junior, tallied 25 tackles, and added two pass deflections, and one interception. Also forced and recovered one fumble each.

A.J. Hill, 6-2, 205, QB, Fr., DuQuoin, Ill. (DuQuoin HS)

Named to the Chicago Tribune honorable mention All-State team as a senior and was recognized by The Southern as its Prep Football Player of the Year. Team captain and MVP passed for 2,119 yards. Completed 177-of-276 passes with just four interceptions for a 64 percent completion mark. Rushed for 751 yards on 82 carries and recorded 49 total touchdowns (18 rushing, 31 passing). Was invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game in 2008. Earned All-Conference honors as a junior and senior. Threw for 1,100 yards, rushed for 650, and recorded 29 touchdowns during his junior season. Led his team to a 20-5 record in two seasons and a second-place finish in Class 3A in 2008. Helped his team advance to the playoffs in all four of his seasons with two conference titles. Four-year letterman in basketball earned special mention all-state honors his junior year. Brother Nick played quarterback for Coach Kill at Southern Illinois.

Nabal Jefferson, 5-11, 260, DL, Fr., Chicago, Ill. (Marist HS)

Named to the Chicago Tribune All-State second team and the Chicago Sun-Times All-Area Team. Also an all-area selection by the Southtown Star. EdgyTim (recruiting) named him to its 8A All-State squad. Recorded 167 total tackles, 14 sacks, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries and was named the East Suburban Catholic Defensive Lineman of the Year during his senior season. Earned all-conference honors twice. Solidified the interior as the noseguard in a 3-4 defensive scheme, helping his team to a 9-3 record and the Illinois Class 8A Quarterfinals as a senior. Totaled 78 tackles, with 32 solo, seven sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries as a junior. Team won a share of the conference championship in both his freshman and sophomore seasons.

Kyle Jenkins, 6-4, 256, DL, Jr., Itasca, Ill. (Driscoll HS/Harper College)

Harper College: 2008 NJCAA Second Team All-American and Midwest Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year. First team all-conference and all-region selection recorded 40 tackles and 19.5 sacks to lead the Hawks to an 11-1 record and to the MFC and Valley of the Sun Bowl championships.

High School: Earned four varsity letters to help lead the Highlanders to four straight state championships. Awarded 4A all-state honors his senior year, compiling 68 tackles and 13 sacks. Named the Chicago Sun-Times Small School Player of the Year as a senior. Earned first-team all-conference honors both his junior and senior seasons. As a junior, recorded 65 tackles with 11 sacks, three interceptions and one blocked kick. Made 55 stops with seven sacks and a blocked kick as a sophomore. Holds the school record for most career sacks with 31. Three-sport standout gathered three all-conference awards in basketball, and earned all-area mention in 2004. Also earned all-conference accolades in baseball as a senior.

Anthony Johnson, 6-3, 170, WR, Fr., San Antonio, Texas (Earl Warren HS)

Named to San Antonio's 2008 Super Team, recording 718 receiving yards on 46 catches for a 15.6 yard average. Rushed for 386 yards on 24 carries to average 16.1 yards per carry. Caught 10 touchdowns passes and ran for seven scores. Totaled 149 passing yards and 18 combined touchdowns as a senior. Named a City All-Star senior year. Earned All-Conference honors three times. Was a second-team All-Region choice as a senior. Team captain his senior year helped lead the Warriors to a 9-3 record, a district championship and three bi-district championships. Recorded 1,455 receiving yards on 85 catches and scored 17 receiving touchdowns for his career. Named Texas' Best Duo along with high school teammate and fellow signee Martel Moore. Three-sport standout for the Warriors, becoming the first athlete to become a three-sport letterman during his sophomore season, with letters in football, basketball and track and field. Holds school records in the high jump, long jump and triple jump, and has won 11 total first place medals in the events with one season remaining. On the hardwood, led his district in three-pointers made with 53 and three-point percentage at 51, playing his way into second-team all-district honors as a junior.

Antione Kirkland, 5-11, 190, RB, Fr., Boca Raton, Fla. (Olympic Heights HS)

Named to the Palm Beach Post All-Area first-team, the Miami Herald All-Palm Beach County first team, and the 4A All-State second team as a senior. Started in the 15th annual Outback Steakhouse Treasure Coast High School All-Star Game. Three-time all-conference selection and won first-team recognition as a junior and senior. Recorded 1,252 yards on 179 carries to average seven yards per carry with 16 touchdowns during his senior season, including a 247-yard performance on 25 carries. Also caught 10 passes for 141 yards that year. Rushed for 696 yards and six touchdowns as a junior. Team captain his final two years and was named offensive player of the year in both. Is a first generation Jamaican American.

Matt Krempel, 6-4, 290, OL, Fr., Columbus, Ind. (Columbus North HS)

Earned first-team all-state, all-area and all-conference recognition as a senior. Garnered honorable mention Junior All-State accolades and named all-area honors as a junior. Voted Most Valuable Offensive Lineman for the Bulldogs. Received Academic All-State honors as a senior. Team posted a 12-2 record his junior year after winning nine games his sophomore season. Earned three varsity letters for football, and was a regional qualifier in shotput and discus as a junior.

Jordan Lynch, 6-1, 195, Fr., QB, Chicago, Ill. (Mt. Carmel HS)

Named to the Chicago Sun-Times All Area first team and the Chicago Tribune All-State honorable mention team. Lawless Award recipient, which honors the top senior in the Chicago Catholic League. Team captain was named the Northwest Indiana Times Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 1,221 yards on 75-of-125, passing 16 touchdowns and rushing for 848 yards on 141 carries (a 6.0 average) with 15 touchdowns. Earned all-conference honors twice while leading his team to two Class 8A semifinal appearances. Threw for 1,120 passing yards on 69-of-135 attempts. Totaled 486 rushing yards on 94 carries. Scored 24 total touchdowns (15 passing, nine rushing) while helping his team to a 12-1 record in 2007. Also earned all-conference and all-area honors that year.

Martel Moore, 6-2, 182, WR, Fr., San Antonio, Texas (Earl Warren HS)

Earned all-state honors as a senior, recording 1,248 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on 60 catches to average nearly 23 yards per catch. Named to San Antonio's 2008 Super Team and named a City All-Star. Earned all-conference honors three times with two first team nods and was named the Warriors' Offensive Player of the Year. Helped lead the Warriors to a district championship and three bi-district championships. Holds the school record for most receptions, yards and touchdowns in a season. As a junior, caught 26 passes for 493 yards, an 18.9 average, with seven touchdowns. Ran the ball three times for 138 yards (46.0 yards-per-carry average) and two touchdowns. During his sophomore year, averaged 27.6 yards per catch with 13 receptions for 359 yards and three touchdowns. Compiled 2,100 yards on 99 career catches. Named Texas' Best Duo along with high school teammate and fellow signee Anthony Johnson. Also competed in track and field, where he won the district title in the 110-meter hurdles, and finished second in the long jump as a junior. As a sophomore on the track, helped his team to the district championship, and ran on the 4x200-meter relay team that placed third at regionals.

Stephen O'Neal, 6-4, 215, DE, Fr., Park Forest, Ill. (Rich East HS)

Awarded first-team all conference honors as a senior. Threw for 513 yards and 11 touchdowns and tallied five sacks and three pass break-ups in his final season. Played quarterback and free safety his final two seasons of high school. As a junior, threw for three scores, and recorded 10 sacks to go with four pass deflections. Played wide receiver as a sophomore and had 13 catches for 643 yards and 11 touchdowns. Two-time all-conference performer in basketball and was named to the all-tournament squad at the Big Dipper Classic. Named to the Rich East Bronze Honor Roll list each of the last two semesters.

Jon Phillips, 6-3, 260, DL/OL, Fr., Dixon, Ill. (Dixon HS) As a senior, earned a place on The Pantagraph's Conference All-Star Team as a defensive lineman... also garnered all-area honors from the Sauk Valley News... totaled 55 tackles, 33 solo, with seven sacks and 10 tackles for loss.

Daniel Rodriguez, 5-11, 187, WR, Fr., Miami, Fla. (Gulliver Prep)

Compiled 820 yards and 10 touchdowns on 55 passes to help lead the Raiders to a 13-2 record and the Florida Class 2A state championship game as a senior. Also tallied five sacks and two interceptions on defense. Earned second team Class 2A all-state honors and was named to the Miami Herald All-Dade County first team. Also garnered all-area recognition and won the Coaches' Choice Award while serving as team captain his senior year. Set the record for most touchdown catches in a game with five. Named Team MVP for 2008 and won the Unsung Hero Award as a junior when his team went 10-2. Caught 38 passes for 600 yards and seven scores that season. Four-year letterwinner whose career totals include 2,370 receiving yards and 27 touchdowns. Honor Roll student.

Ryan Salerno, 5-8, 155, K, Fr., Orland Park, Ill. (Carl Sandburg HS)

Two-time all-conference placekicker has kicked a career-long 46-yard field goal and hit two game-winners. Sent another game to overtime with a field goal as he helped team advance to the state playoffs with a 6-4 record as a senior. Made three threes of 45 yards or longer. Named to the all-region second team and all-conference first team as a junior. Garnered second team all-conference recognition as a sophomore. Hit 64-of-67 career PATs, including 16-of-17 as a senior and all 17 of his tries his junior season, and made 14-of-23 career field goals. Brother of current Huskie kicker Mike Salerno. Two-time conference champion in tennis.

Chris Smith, 5-10, 181, DB, Jr., Palmetto, Fla. (Palmetto HS/Highland C.C.)

Recorded 41 tackles, six interceptions, 15 pass break-ups, forced two fumbles and blocked a kick for Highland C.C. in 2008. Second-team all-conference selection ranked as the 49th best JUCO prospect in the country. Saw action as a cornerback as well as a kick and punt returner. Enrolled at NIU in January and will participate in spring drills. Twin brother Donald also joined the Huskies as a non-scholarship wide receiver.

Jared Volk, 6-3, 287, OL, Fr., Hartland, Wisc. (Arrowhead HS)

Three-year varsity starter at offensive and defensive tackle. Named to the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-Region and first-team All-State squad following his senior season. Team captain also garnered first-team all-state honors from the Associated Press and was named to Wisconsin Preps All-State second team as a defensive tackle. All-conference offensive tackle as a junior and senior. Number 74 offensive tackle on the ESPN Top 150 offensive line list. Ranked as the No. 2 offensive tackle and no. 8 offensive lineman by Rivals. Called the ninth-highest rated recruit in Wisconsin by Wisconsin Preps. Helped lead the Warhawks to a Class 1A State Championship during his junior year and three conference championships. Earned all-conference honors in the discus and shot put during his freshman and sophomore season. Member of the school honor roll and principal's advisory committee.

Dominique Ware, 6-0, 175, CB, Fr., Bolingbrook, Ill. (Plainfield North HS)

Earned three-varsity letters and was a two-time captain and two-time defensive MVP for the Tigers. Named to the Southwest Prairie All-Conference first team, All-Area first team and the IHSA Academic All-State team his senior year. Recorded 35 tackles, three interceptions, three tackles for loss and blocked three kicks in his senior season. Posted a perfect grade point average as a junior.

Anthony Wells, 6-3, 229, DE, Fr., North Chicago, Ill. (North Chicago HS)

Garnered Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times all-state honorable mention honors as a senior. Earned first-team all-conference honors that year. Recorded 70 tackles and 11 sacks during his senior season and was named the team's Defensive Player of the Year and Lineman of the Year. Broke up five passes and intercepted one. As a junior, credited with 90 tackles, 50 solo, eight sacks and five pass breakups. Added 50 stops his freshman year with seven sacks and five forced fumbles. For his career, compiled 210 tackles, 26 sacks, forced nine fumbles and recovered three with two interceptions and 17 pass deflections.

Josh Wilber, 5-11, 215, P, Jr., Phoenix, Ariz. (Barry Goldwater HS/Phoenix College)

Ranked as the fourth-best punter in the nation according to Booted 45 punts for an average of 43.6 yards, landing 25 inside the 20-yard line. Longest punt was 70 yards. Third team Junior College All-American and was nominated as an Academic All-American. Second team JC Gridwire All-American and two-time WSFL All-Conference nominee. Team advanced to the Valley of the Sun Bowl with a 7-3 mark his senior season. Served in the United States Marine Corps prior to going to Phoenix College. Earned his AA degree in December and will participate in spring drills. Was an all-region selection at linebacker in high school.

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