Northern Illinois needs inexperienced tight ends to step up
BY STEVE NITZ Shaw Media August 12, 2013 10:32PM
Northern Illinois tight end Desroy Maxwell (37) is tackled by Florida State defensive back Ronald Darby (13) during the first half of the Orange Bowl NCAA college football game, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Updated: August 12, 2013 10:36PM
DEKALB, Ill. — For any tight end in Northern Illinois’ system, there’s a lot of learning.
Junior Luke Eakes said it’s not too difficult, but challenging enough to where he has to get into the playbook every night.
In the Huskies’ attack, the tight end might line up wide, on a wing or even in the backfield. There’s a lot to pick up for someone such as Eakes, who is listed at the top of the preseason depth chart. He caught eight passes for 268 yards a year ago (averaging a whopping 33.5 yards per catch) and will have more of an expanded role with Jason Schepler in the San Francisco 49ers’ camp.
“We used Luke all over [last season], in certain situations to his strength,” coach Rod Carey said. “He can do everything.”
Players such as Desroy Maxwell — who earned playing time as a true freshman last season, primarily as a blocker (though fans might remember his 35-yard scamper on a fake punt during the Orange Bowl) — and junior Tim Semisch should be used as well. One thing is for sure, the group will be seen in a number of roles.
“We have every role besides maybe quarterback,” Semisch said.
Semisch, a big target at 6-8, 266 pounds, was used as a red-zone option last year, catching two passes for nine yards, including a two-yard TD in a victory over Army. This year, he said he’s been worked into the running game, too, and has made an effort to improve his blocking.
“That was probably the main thing I wanted to work on this summer. I had a lot of confidence in the pass game, but I know I needed to work on [blocking] a lot,” Semisch said. “Run game, two-three times a week me and a couple of the guys were out here on the sleds, out here working footwork.”