Former St. Charles North offensive tackle Isaac Hawn says he received a congratulatory text from his ex-coach, Robert Pomazak, shortly following his monumental day.
Hawn has been locked in a competition with redshirt sophomore Ryan Roberts for playing time. Hawn, a true freshman for Northern Illinois, made his first collegiate start at right tackle during NIU's 21-17 upset victory over Big Ten foe Nebraska on Sept.16.
Hawn and Roberts split reps throughout the afternoon, but Hawn played more snaps at right tackle. Hawn found out the day before the game he'd be starting, but didn't seem overwhelmed by the challenge.
"I was less nervous [for Nebraska] than the other two where I didn't start," Hawn said. "I had a job to do. I couldn't afford to have nerves. I just had to go out there and do it."
Hawn has made waves for the Huskies. The 6-foot-6, 308-pound St. Charles North product has been in the mix along the offensive line through the first three weeks, and that will seemingly continue for the duration of the season.
Hawn joined the program last spring as an early enrollee, and immediately jumped into the two-deep [depth chart], establishing himself as an early candidate for playing time.
Hawn didn't expect to be in the mix to play right away when he arrived, but as the offseason program progressed he earned reps. Hawn says NIU offensive line coach Joe Tripodi told him if he kept up his performance, he'd play in the fall.
The 19-year-old made his collegiate debut in NIU's opener against Boston College, even though Roberts started.
"Isaac is a very, very hard worker," Tripodi said. "We have very good competition between Isaac and Ryan Roberts right now, which makes us better as a team."
Despite the competition, Hawn says he and Roberts have been able to push each other, and they have a good relationship. Furthermore, Hawn credits Roberts for his role in helping him prepare to start.
"[Roberts] makes me better, and that's really good for us," Hawn said.
As for their matchup against San Diego State Sept. 30, Hawn won't be told who is starting until likely the day before.
For now, Hawn projects to stay on the right side, with the left side of the line heavy on experienced players for the foreseeable future. Hawn played some guard in spring ball, but prefers tackle.
The former three-star offensive tackle prospect was wooed to NIU by virtue of a group effort of the coaching, including head coach Rod Carey.
Tripodi doesnt't scout the St. Charles area, but the third-rated offensive line prospect in Illinois didn't escape the recruiting clutches of NIU – picking the Huskies from 20 offers, including Lovie Smith and Illinois.
"The biggest part of my decision to go to NIU was the coaching staff. They're really tremendous guys. I'm definitely happy with my choice, and I wouldn't have it any other way," Hawn said.