The top 10 players returning to the Nothern Illinois Huskies for the 2020 college football season.
Important to note that this list is based upon last year's data and film from on each specific team as well as judgment based upon the player's position both his skill and the level of talent around him at the said position and influential cohorts. Positional value also plays a large factor in these rankings as does the offensive or defensive scheme.
1. Matt Lorbeck, DE
2. Ross Bowers, QB
3. Nick Rattin, LB
4. Mitchell Brinkman, TE
5. Weston Kramer, DI
6. Jordan Cole, LB
7. Benn Olson, G
8. Jordan Nettles, RB
9. Tyrice Richie, WR
10. Cole Tucker, WR
Honorable Mention: Christopher Perez Jr., C; Brayden Patton, G; Dillon Thomas, CB
This unit lost arguably their best defensive player in Jack Heflin to transfer this offseason but Lorbeck has his strengths that Heflin did not. Lorbeck is extremely gifted all across the field and doesn't miss tackles in space. He recorded a team-high 44 pressures off the edge and also made 20+ stops against the run last season.
Elsewhere on defense, the combination of Rattin and Cole at linebacker should strike fear into MAC rushing attacks as they stymied backs a season ago. They also each had strong showings in the pass game as well as Rattin recorded a pick and a pass breakup and Cole allowed fewer than 100 yards into his coverage.
Kramer will fill the role that Heflin left with his transfer and that Ben LeRoy left with his departure as well. With more snaps, though, there's no doubt he'll have every chance at a breakout year.
On offense, the former Cal QB in Bowers should have another great season if he can stay healthy. He fared very well when given time and was allowed the ability to throw downfield. With solid pass protection, he completed well over 50% of his passes and had a much higher passer rating as well as touchdown-to-interception ratio.
He can rely on both Richie and Tucker, as well as Brinkman at tight end as they combined for eight touchdowns a season ago. Brinkman is a big man who won't drop many passes his way and presents a mismatch if he can catch a ball in space. He'll bowl over defenders and make them miss with his shocking elusiveness. Richie racked up the yards after the catch a season ago, averaging 11.3 yards after the catch compared to his 13.0 yards per reception figure overall. This is a dynamic group with Nettles thrown in there as well.