COURTESY OF NMU
MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University football team is set to begin their first campaign since the 2019 season ranked seventh in the 2021 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Preseason Coaches Poll.
NMU had 15 points in the poll which slotted them above Northwood by a total of five points.
The Wildcats return their leading rusher and 2019 All-GLIAC Honorable Mention Tyshon King to the roster. During the 2019 season, King led NMU in rushing with 647 yards on 143 rushes. Also returning is senior Deandre Caldwell who has rushed for 756 and two touchdowns in his Wildcat career.
Benjamin Loutsis, who was tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns, total receptions, and receptions per game in 2019, is returning to the NMU passing game this season. The 2018 All-GLIAC Honorable Mention honoree played in all 10 games his sophomore season and had 28 receptions for 381 yards.
The offensive line will bring back experienced players to assist in the NMU offensive attack. Center Jay Young is back for his senior campaign after being named an All-GLIAC Honorable Mention in 2019. Joining Young on the line is Trevor Hiller. The offensive lineman appeared in all 10 games for the Wildcats in 2019 with nine starts. Left tackle Payton Muljo returns to the o-line for NMU as well.
On defense, the Wildcats bring back two student-athletes who were tied for second in tackles in 2019. Senior safety Brady Hanson returns after leading the team in forced fumbles (3), interceptions (3), and pass breakups (8). He started all 10 games and notched 78 tackles. Antonio Howard Jr. is also back for NMU after a 78 tackle season. The redshirt freshman also tallied seven tackles for loss, second-best for the Wildcats, and a sack.
Hanson and Howard are joined in the defensive backfield by corner Tavion McCarthy. McCarthy had the second-longest fumble return for the team, going 38 yards. He also had 35 total tackles and a tackle for loss and a forced fumble.
Jacob Dudeck returns to the defensive line for NMU after starting all 10 games in 2019. Dudek completed the 2019 season with a total of 24 tackles, with 11 solo and 13 assisted. He had 1.5 tackles for loss and forced two fumbles.
Tyquan Cox, the Wildcats’ leader in returns and all-purpose yards in 2019, will also be available for NMU. Cox returned a kickoff in 2019 for a 99-yard touchdown, the first for the Wildcats since 2016.
NMU is going into its fourth competition year under head coach Kyle Nystrom. The coach has been with the Wildcats for five years, but the team did not play in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Ferris State University earned first place in the preseason poll with 49 points and seven first-place votes. Grand Valley State University had 42 points and a first-place vote to take second in the poll while Wayne State University rounded out the top three with 36 points. Saginaw Valley State University took fourth with 25 points with Michigan Technological University (24 points) following in fifth place. Davenport University’s 22 points placed them at sixth with NMU’s 15 points placing them seventh. Northwood rounded out the poll with an eighth-place finish with 10 points.
Fans can watch the 2021 GLIAC Media Day Show, which features interviews with head coach Kyle Nystrom and student-athletes Jay Young and Tavion McCarthy, here.