Seniors Brayden Patton, Clint Ratkovich, Represent NIU at Annual Gathering
DETROIT, Mich. – Northern Illinois University head coach Thomas Hammock, offensive lineman Brayden Patton and running back Clint Ratkovich represented NIU at the 2021 Mid-American Conference Football Media Day Tuesday as the annual gathering of coaches and student-athletes from across the league signaled a symbolic start to the 2021 football season.
The morning began with breakfast at Ford Field as the Huskies fueled up for a morning of interviews. Following breakfast, the NIU contingent settled in at their assigned table before the first stop of the day, at the Cleveland.com/MLive.com booth where all three were interviewed for that outlet’s MAC Preview Show (watch here). From there it was upstairs where ESPN3 hosts Michael Reghi and Dustin Fox spoke to both Hammock and Patton, highlighting the development of the young Huskies, new and returning faces on the Huskie offense and the excitement surrounding the return of fans in 2021. Watch the ESPN3 MAC Media Day Show (NIU segment occurs in last 45 minutes).
“We love our roster,” Hammock told ESPN3. “We’re not limited in experience. We’re very experienced, we have starters coming back and we’ve also seen tremendous growth that has happened with our football team. It’s very exciting, we’re young, we’re building for the long term and guys are ready to roll.”
After MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher’s address to the assembled media, coaches, student-athletes, bowl partners and athletic directors, the media interviews continued as reporters from the Northern Star, Huskies On Tap, the Daily Chronicle, The Athletic and more stopped by to chat with Hammock, Patton and Ratkovich. (Click links to go to stories.)
Patton, whose father, James, was an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan last year before moving to Miami, was greeted by both EMU head coach Chris Creighton and Miami head coach Chuck Martin. Ratkovich, who transferred to NIU for his senior season from Western Illinois, soaked up the Mid-American Conference knowledge and Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) atmosphere. Between interviews, the two continued to add to their story on the niuhuskies Instagram account as part of the takeover they started on Monday. (follow niuhuskies on Instagram and see the highlighted story)
Additional stops on the Media Day schedule included an interview with Sirius XM Radio for Hammock as they taped segments for use throughout the preseason, an appearance on the “Call to MACtion” Podcast for Ratkovich and Patton and various additional podcasts and MAC public service announcements. That was after the players spent time Monday afternoon in a photo/video and social media shoot with the MAC staff. Monday’s schedule included a session with Steinbrecher and a “fowling” outing.
With more than 75 “freshmen” on the 2021 Huskie roster, including first, second and third-year players, NIU garnered 29 points in the preseason media poll to rank sixth in the West Division voting. Ball State (114) led the way in the west while Kent State (112 points) was tabbed as the favorite in the East Division. Six different teams received votes as the MAC Championship game winner.
The Huskies returned to DeKalb Tuesday with just over two weeks remaining until the start of preseason practices on August 5. NIU opens the season at Georgia Tech on September 4 before welcoming fans back to the stands at full capacity in Huskie Stadium beginning with the home opener versus Wyoming on September 11. Kickoff for the game is at 12:30 p.m. (CT) and the game will honor First Responders and Health Care Heroes, while also serving as a Welcome Back Fans celebration.
Season tickets for NIU’s complete six-game home schedule remain on sale with season ticket prices as low as $85. Purchase a minimum of four tickets for all six games via the Family Pack for just $90 per ticket (in sections B and F) or $66 per ticket (in sections A and G). Three-game or four-game mini-plans are also available with Mission’s 3-Game Mini-Plan priced at $79 (including processing), while Victor E.’s 4-Game Mini-Plan is $107.
To see all the ticket options and prices, and for more information on premium seating, see the Football Ticket Page at NIUHuskies.com. To renew or purchase tickets, call 815-753-PACK (7225) or go to NIUHuskies.com/MyHuskies.
— NIU —