NIU QB Harnish Believes in His Receivers

Not knowing whether you are going to be a starter going into the first game of the season can be hard on anyone, but when that someone is a freshman, those nerves cannot be matched. That was the case last year for Northern Illinois redshirt freshman quarterback Chandler Harnish.

Harnish, despite being in the Northern Illinois system for over a year, wasn't sure whether his work in the summer and fall had won over the new coaching staff leading up to the season opener against Minnesota.

"I guess you could call it being thrown in the fire, yes," the quarterback said. "Going into the first game, I had no idea if I was starting or not, but I was able to overcome that and the experience helped me prepare for what's to come."

After getting the starting nod and helping the Huskies to a 1-1 record, Harnish injured his foot in the second game of the year against Western Michigan. Despite missing the next three games, Coach Jerry Kill inserted the redshirt freshman into the team's game against Miami (Ohio) and he didn't look back, leading the team to three wins in their next five games.

Unfortunately for Harnish, only two of his top five receivers return from last year's team. But for underclassmen like Willie Clark and Nathan Palmer, their opportunity is now. With the help of a quarterback who has a year as a Division I starting quarterback under his belt, the receiving corps at Northern Illinois can only improve. With only Reed Cunningham and Landon Cox (the two returning contributors) returning, no receiver on the roster had more than 22 catches on the season.

"We need guys to build the passing game around. I think a lot of these guys, including Landon Cox, Nate Palmer, Willie Clark and even to a certain extent, Marcus Lewis can help us become a very good passing team," Harnish said. "If we pass well, we will run well and that just makes us an overall better team. But I believe in these guys."

Despite throwing for 1,528 yards and eight touchdowns and rushing for a team-high 539 yards and four more touchdowns at NIU, Harnish knows there are still aspects of his game he needs to work on.

"I've been working a lot on the intangibles. I think I've come a long way since last year ended, and we're set for this year. If we do everything to the best of our capabilities, we will be pretty good."


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