DeKALB – For the past three years of fall camp, the quarterback position has been set in stone for Northern Illinois football.
In 2011, it was Chandler Harnish. The past two seasons, Jordan Lynch was the guy. NIU coach Rod Carey has said his team’s quarterback play has been among the best in the country over the past few years, and it’s hard to argue against the Huskies’ second-year coach.
Harnish won the Vern Smith Award as Mid-American Conference MVP in 2011, with Lynch winning in 2012 and 2013. As a senior, Lynch finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
However, those eras are in the past, and over the next three weeks or so, the answer to takes the reigns will be answered.
Since spring practice, Carey has called the battle between junior Matt McIntosh and sophomores Anthony Maddie and Drew Hare an even race.
One thing is for sure, each has been waiting for this chance for a long time.
“You come here, to the university, you don’t come to sit on the sidelines, you come here to play. I came in with Chandler and Jordan, both of those two were great quarterbacks,” McIntosh said. “Just waiting for them, now I get the opportunity to compete with these two guys. It’s a great opportunity.”
McIntosh and Hare both backed up Lynch last season, and got some playing time in blowout contests. Hare went 5-for-9 passing for 153 yards and two touchdowns, while McIntosh was 2-for-2 for 54 yards and two touchdowns. Hare had five rushing attempts for 68 yards and a score while McIntosh ran six times for 44 yards.
Maddie, who transferred from Western Michigan last summer, had to sit out a year because of NCAA transfer rules and worked with the scout team.
He said his grasp of the offense has really come on since spring practice.
“Spring ball, it was a lot of learning for me,” Maddie said. “Today, and this summer camp I feel a lot more prepared and a lot more comfortable with the offense and everything.”
NIU will hold 23 practices before game week preparation before the season opener against Presbyterian Aug. 23.
With how close the competition is, it may be awhile before Carey officially announces his starter. For now, Carey wants to see continued improvement, something he saw throughout spring practice, though he was disappointed in the quarterbacks’ performance at the Huskie Bowl.
“I want to see more consistency,” Carey said. “I want to see more command of the offense.”