Northern Michigan University Wildcats football has key offensive positions to fill

Latrell Giles runs the ball during a Northern Michigan University football game against Texas-Permian Basin in September. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — Fans will get to see the Northern Michigan University football team in action for the first time in 2019 on Saturday afternoon with the annual spring game taking place in the Superior Dome.

The Wildcats will have a different look this season, particularly on offense.

With the loss of All-GLIAC running back Jake Mayon and the return of junior quarterback Ryan Johnson off an injury, NMU will have some important positions to fill as they hope this weekend’s scrimmage will help.

The Wildcats do return a strong defensive corps, with senior safety Troy Mayon, junior safety Brady Hanson and sophomore linebacker Isaac Darkangelo leading the way.

Hanson led the team last fall in tackles with 47, averaging 7.5 per game and also making an interception and forcing a fumble.

Darkangelo was a bright spot for the Wildcats defense as a freshman, recording 31 tackles and two sacks, also forcing a fumble in 10 games played.

Troy Mayon will provide senior leadership on defense after making 39 tackles in 2018 and averaging 7.2 per game. Mayon also had two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

His brother Jake, however, who carried the Wildcats run game for most of his career and broke the school rushing record, must be replaced.

Junior Latrell Giles is a potential option in the backfield after he played in nine games last season. Most of those games were played under center, with Johnson and fellow QB Kole Stealy both falling prey to injuries early on in the year.

Giles rushed for 398 yards last season, behind now-junior Deandre Caldwell with 411 and Mayon with 1,505.

Caldwell is also likely to receive some time in the backfield, averaging 45.7 yards per game with two touchdowns last season.

Johnson is now a junior. In his freshman season in 2017, he threw for 1,581 yards and nine touchdowns to lead the NMU attack.

Leading the offense from the sidelines will be recently hired offensive coordinator Dan Fodrocy, who comes from Saginaw Valley State University after eight seasons. Fodrocy is joined on staff by defensive coordinator Kirby Cannon, who along with head coach Kyle Nystrom enter their third seasons in Marquette.

Fans will also get to see the 2019 recruiting class for the first time, which features 28 recruits, six from the Upper Peninsula.

Kickoff in the annual spring scrimmage is at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.