Tag Archives: Northern Illinois

2020 MAC Football: Final Exams

As the 2020 MAC football regular season comes to a close this weekend, we give one player from each team our analysis prior to their final exams.


Western Michigan 

76 Jaylon Moore 6’5 315 LT-Senior

Moore has started 31 straight games at the left tackle position (entering 12/9/20).

Moore’s consistency dates back nearly three full seasons. A smooth mover with enough power, he simply needs more consistency with hand placement. He bears a strong resemblance to former Western Michigan tackles Taylor Moton (Carolina Panthers) and Chukwuma Okorafor (Pittsburgh Steelers). Both are former Broncos currently starting at the right tackle position in the NFL.

Ball State

2 Caleb Huntley 6’2 226 RB-Senior

Scouts are impressed that the 225-plus pound barreling ram has continued to improve his footwork in 2020. A recent rib injury has robbed him of the last two games, but his presence provides balance for quarterback Drew Plitt and the Cardinals (4-1). Prior to the injury, Huntley had posted three 100-yard games in 2020.

Central Michigan

8 Troy Brown 6’2 204 LB-Junior

A heat-seeking missile at just 204 pounds, the former safety turned linebacker sifted his way to 16.5 tackles for loss in 2019 (led the MAC). Along the way there was the occasional hiccup (targeting ejection, MAC Championship ’19) but it has not deterred him from continuing to lay the lumber in 2020. He busted loose versus Ball State last weekend (12/5/20) with 12 tackles, 2.5 quarterback sacks and 3.5 tackles for losses.

Toledo Rockets

0 Samuel Womack 5’10 187

Womack (No. 19 pictured, now wears No. 0) led the MAC as a junior with 17 passes defended and ranks second with seven in 2020.

One of the most competitive defenders in the conference, Womack overcomes ordinary size with pristine footwork and a glass half empty, glass half full approach. His gambles are often calculated and timely.  After defending 17 passes in 2019 (2 INTs, 15 PBUs), he has broken up seven passes so far in 2020. The key for him moving forward comes down to timing his opens to run out of his backpedal or in press-man coverage.

 Northern Illinois

3 Tyrice Richie 6’0 193 WR-Senior

The former JUCO product impresses in the intermediate passing game alongside fellow transfer quarterback Ross Bowers. Richie scored a receiving touchdown last weekend against Toledo, but it was not against the aforementioned Womack. Richie has four 100-yard receiving games in five contests, but may not even reach his listed measurements.

Eastern Michigan

99 Turan Rush 6’2 246 OLB-Senior

The 249-pound Rush posted two sacks against Ball State and his pass rush variety is improving. He has been more steady holding the edge in 2020 as opposed a season ago; particularly versus tight ends. The Charleston, West Virginia native has 11.5 quarterback sacks in his career and would benefit from taking advantage of an extra year if allowed to return to school, as he has slowed down in recent weeks.  

Buffalo

49 Taylor Riggins 6’2 255 DE-Senior

Buffalo’s Taylor Riggins, pictured, was supposed to form one of the better edge rushing duos in the MAC this season, but he has not appeared in any games due to an undisclosed ailment.

While teammate Malcolm Koonce get most of the ink, Riggins’ productivity has arguably been just as noteworthy (13.5 sacks over the 2018-19 campaigns). He has, however, been invisible in all of the Bulls contests in 2020 due to an undisclosed ailment. The former UMass transfer may decide to come back in 2021 to finish on a stronger standing.

Kent State

7 Dustin Crum 6’3 207 QB-Senior

Crum (No. 14 pictured in 2019 handing the ball off) understands the value of efficiency. Through four games, the senior signal-caller ranks sixth nationally in QB rating (192.7).

His ball placement continues to shine, particularly on routes that require touch and arc within three yards of the sideline on nine routes or fades down the field. A deft zone read specialist, Crum leads the nation’s second-ranked offense in scoring, No. 1 offense in yards per game and the second-ranked offense  in third down conversion percentage.

Editor’s Note: Crum now wears No. 7 for the Golden Flashes

Miami (Ohio)

51 Danny Godlevske 6’3 300 OC-Senior

While not a dominator, Godlevske gets to most of his spots and has even shown the ability to get out in space when the team uses the screen game. Improvement in his pass pro versus stronger defensive linemen should be his focus down the stretch.  Godlevske opted for the NFL Draft early before the MAC proceeded with its season this fall. He is not as strong of a prospect as fellow senior offensive line mate, left tackle Tommy Doyle, but he could at the least get into an NFL training camp.

Ohio 

47 Austin Conrad 6’2 245 OLB/DE-Senior

Conrad finished with at least six tackles for loss in 2018 and 2019.

His energy never wavers despite a relative lack of size. He fights relentlessly down-to-down. Coaches also lauded his first step. He’s the personal protector on the punt team, competitive versus the run and has even lined up as the three-technique defensive tackle in some of their packages. The Bobcats have only played three games as of press time (12-9-20), so Conrad’s numbers won’t jump off the page.

Akron

Bubba Arslanian 5’9 205 LB-Senior

Arslanian has reigned terror on Bowlling Green the last two seasons, recording 35 tackles, 2 QB sack, 4 TFLs and two forced fumbles. Can he cover well enough to play man-to-man versus bigger tight ends?

There are not a lot of 205-pound linebackers that play as if they’re carrying a boulder on their back. Arslanian averaged over 10 tackles a game in 2019 but has picked up the pace, averaging slightly over 11 in 2020. Most impressively, he’s been able to stay injury-free.

Bowling Green

Quintin Morris 6’4 251 TE-Senior

The former big wide receiver has transitioned positively to the tight end/H-back position after the staff convinced him of the move. He did so while adding weight. The 2019 second-team All-MAC pick brings flex capabilities to the table, with intriguing run after the catch skills.  After a slow start to the season, Morris has posted three consecutive 60-plus yard receiving games.

Q&A with San Diego State’s Nick Bawden: ‘The leading man’

There aren’t many quarterbacks who give up the ball and decide to become lead fullbacks.  Former San Diego State Aztecs fullback Nick Bawden did that and more.  After starting two games for the Aztecs at quarterback in 2014, he made a successful transition to the position.  Bawden was the lead blocker for two 2,000-yard running backs in his career.   He gives a lot of the credit to current San Diego State offensive coordinator Jeff Horton.  DraftNasty’s Corey Chavous caught up with Bawden during the week of 2018 Senior Bowl practices this past January.

Bawden (No. 15 pictured) blocked for two 2,000-yard rushers after starting two games at quarterback in 2014.

 

Corey: Wanted to ask you a little bit about working with Jeff Horton as the offensive coordinator (San Diego State). He is a guy I had some familiarity with and we worked together for awhile (St. Louis Rams). He had a lot of good things to say about you. Not only on your approach, but just how smart you were. Talk a little bit about your ability to grasp a number of different pro-style concepts.

Bawden: Starting with my intellect for football. I just love the game. Student of the game. Trying to learn as much as I can from as many people…reaching out to people on Instagram, stuff like that. I learned so much from Coach Horton. That’s pretty cool that you guys go way back, cause he’s been so influential in my life. I can’t thank him enough for all that he’s done. He’s really taken the time to help me learn this game the way I have.

Corey: You’re being asked to block on a lot of counters and do some of the things that an NFL fullback would be asked to do. It’s one thing to do it and get to the assignment, but then there is another to do it and finish with some ‘Nasty’. I like ‘Nasty’, and you’ve got a lot of that in you. Talk about ‘Nasty’ and why that’s important for you…to send a message when you connect on people.

Bawden: Yeah, I mean there’s not many of us left. A fullback has got to be the most physical guy on the field at all times. Whether that’s in special teams or running iso (lead isolations), running counters, like you said. That’s just my mentality. I want to impact the game to where linebackers are thinking about me and not where the ball is.

Corey: You’ve blocked for two 2,000-yard rushers (Donnell Pumphrey, Rashaad Penny) among others. You’ve also blocked for Juwan (Washington) and did he come close to a thousand this year?

Bawden: He was close yeah but not quite (759 yards, 6 yards per carry, 7 TDs).

Corey: The year before (2016), the 2,000 and 1,000-yard double (Pumphrey and Penny).

Bawden: Yeah.

Corey: What does that mean to you?

Bawden: It’s been incredible. Like I said, there’s nine other guys on the field so it wasn’t just me.   We’ve had some really good O-linemen and some really good tight ends. But I’ve been put in a really good position and that’s all thanks to Coach Horton.

Corey: What’s the one thing you want NFL scouts to know that you’re going to bring to the next level that they may not know as much about right now?

 Bawden: Just my versatility. I can line up in the I-formation and run Iso (fullback lead isolations) all day, but I can run down and cover kicks, cover punts, be on kickoff return, be on punt return. Be on all of them. I want to be a core special teams guy and be able to contribute any way I can.

Corey: No doubt. Thanks a lot for your time.

Bawden: Absolutely.

Corey: One more question. Who was the toughest opponent you went against in school?

Bawden: Individual player?

Corey: Yeah, individual player.

Bawden: I’d say Harrison Phillips, the D-tackle from Stanford.   He’s actually out here this week (Senior Bowl). We’re training together down in San Diego.

Corey: Y’all beat them this year.

Bawden: We did. We did. He had like ten tackles against us at nose though (11 tackles, ½ QB sack, ½ tackle for loss), so that was pretty crazy.

Corey: Yeah, I actually announced one of your games this year.

Bawden: Oh really. Which one?

Corey: Northern Illinois (CBS Sports Network).

Bawden: Okay. That was a dogfight.

Corey: Enjoyed watching you.