Transfer portal leaders paying off

Lombardi, Ratkovich and Joiner have place their stamp on NIU football in just a single video game

Courtesy of The Method

NIU gamers and coaches storm the area at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sept. 4 right after the Huskies defeated the Ga Tech Yellow Jackets 22-21. It’s the Huskies initial win since Nov. 26, 2019.

The tale of how NIU pulled off their electric powered 22-21 victory Saturday in excess of the Ga Tech Yellow Jackets did not start off with the game-winning push or the early 14- direct.

It began in the days and months following the Huskies 2020 season ended when head mentor Thomas Hammock turned his notice to what NIU essential to bounce back again from a winless period. For a team that had the 2nd-highest percentage of freshmen in the nation, the reply was veteran management. 

“With them becoming a member of the method compared to previous yr, we didn’t seriously have a leader or anyone to guide us extremely properly,” freshman jogging back Harrison Waylee reported.

Hammock signed junior quarterback Rocky Lombardi from Michigan State University, who mentioned he came to make an effects on a method on and off the field.

“I feel this is a great put with a whole lot of youthful expertise and a hungry coaching personnel,” Lombardi mentioned in an Aug. 27 Northern Star post. “I viewed them on film, and I felt like these fellas desired to earn. I preferred to be at a spot where I could improve the application on and off the subject, and I wanted to be at a place exactly where the offense satisfies me very well.”

Hammock also picked up redshirt senior operating again Clint Ratkovich and redshirt junior tight conclude Miles Joiner from the transfer portal this past spring. The return on expense has previously been enormous.

“They suggest everything from a management standpoint,” Hammock explained. “They rallied the guys and were adult males in the locker room. I assume we extra some essential items in Rocky, Clint and Miles Joiner on offense. They allow for us to perform the style of football we want to perform.”

Lombardi went 11-for-17 for 156 yards with two touchdown passes, one particular to Joiner and the other to Ratkovich on the video game-profitable push with 38 seconds left. 

Even though his stats seem good, his genuine existence in the final result is as a chief. Hammock credited Lombardi for rallying the staff soon after the injuries to redshirt freshman safety Devin Lafayette and observing a 14- direct snuffed out.

“He’s an extension of our coaching staff members,” Hammock said. “We put a great deal on him. Soon after the very first 50 percent and first pair of drives, I reported, ‘let’s get in 22 and let us see who’s the harder staff.’”

A equivalent tale follows Ratkovich and Joiner. Joiner had just one other capture Saturday night time and Ratkovich only ran for 13 yards. The Huskies’ major rusher Waylee mentioned the two however have manufactured a remarkable effect on the team through getting current for a younger roster. 

“With them, it just feels like we have someone to go talk to or a person to get us up when we’re down. They’re someone who’s optimistic and constantly retains us likely. It’s just constantly terrific to have those people guys close to and they’re terrific leaders way too.”

In a calendar year where quite a few projected NIU to be close to the base of the Mid-American Convention, a acquire like Saturday and the management getting boasted about by Huskies could propel them to overachieve anticipations in Hammock’s 3rd year.

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