NIU Needs Jake Coffman to Step Up on Defense

As a member of Coach Jerry Kill's Leadership Council, defensive lineman Jake Coffman takes a lot of pride mentoring younger players. As a redshirt junior who appeared in 11 games last season, Coffman's experience will be valuable to the Huskies this season.

"Me and Brandon (senior Brandon Bice) look to take a lot guys under our wing and ease them into what to expect," Jake Coffman said. "We just want them to try and better themselves because we need as many of them as possible. It's my job to help get them ready. We need to set the bar and continue to raise the bar so that we are a contender for the MAC Championship."

Coffman, sporting the ring from last season's Independence Bowl, also wants more jewelry at the conclusion of the season.

"This ring is nice and all," said the Northern Illinois defensive end, referring to his ring from the loss to Louisiana Tech. "But I would like a MAC Championship and another Bowl ring after this season."

In order to get those rings, Coffman has worked hard in the offseason to prepare for a bigger role in the defense. Last season, Coffman had 22 tackles and started one game but will be a key for Northern Illinois' defense this year.

"I've worked really hard on being more fluid in my moves and sharpening my instincts," Coffman explained. "I was in great shape last season, but I want to be in the best shape coming into this season. Other guys might have more born skill, but I play the game hard. Working out was my fun this summer."

Coffman developed his toughness and work ethic while serving with the U.S. Marines. Jake completed two tours in the Middle East and advanced to the rank of corporal before coming to NIU.

Offseason training is important for success, but another year under the coaching staff will also help Coffman and the Huskies for the upcoming season.

"We had a lot of guys hurt last season and at times it kind of felt like a blind date with the coaching staff," said Coffman. "Now the coaching staff knows what we can contribute and it's crucial in camp for us to get our plays down and stay healthy."

While some players crave statistics and the spotlight, Coffman and the Huskies put team first and understand that it takes a whole team to win.

"I don't really have personal goals because the team goals always come first," said Coffman. "I guess my goal would be to look back after this season and say that I had a good year and was a solid player for the team."

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