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Franklin's Myers chooses a "family feeling," sticks with Northern Illinois

But late offer from Wisconsin was tempting

Jan. 31, 2012

Franklin - On the offensive line in football, loyalty and trust is everything.

Each guy knows what he's supposed to do and what the guy on either side of him is doing and that's what makes a play work. It's what makes a team successful.

Franklin offensive tackle Levon Myers, all 6-6, 260 pounds of him, was loyal and trusted his instincts when he turned down a late NCAA Division I scholarship offer from Wisconsin head football coach Brett Bielema last week and then re-confirmed his decision to accept a much earlier scholarship offer from Northern Illinois University.

"It was a very difficult and stressful decision," he said, "but I was talking with the Northern Illinois people all week and they would have understood if I had chosen to go to Wisconsin."

Wisconsin, which has had a significant amount of coaching change - especially on the offensive side of the ball - since its Rose Bowl loss to Oregon last month, made a scholarship offer to Myers on Jan. 22.

Another player decided to go to a different school, so Myers said the Badgers had a need. Myers added the offer was very tempting, especially since it came directly from Bielema himself. The Badgers have not replaced their offensive line coach yet, so that's part of the reason why Bielema was involved directly in the process.

With that kind of direct pressure, Myers knew he needed a little help in breaking all this down.

"I talked to my parents a little bit," said Myers, a NOW All-Suburban choice as well as a Wisconsin Football Coaches Association and AP first-team all-state selection. "They were helpful and they definitely weren't pushing me in any one direction. We really didn't have a full-on, extensive discussion or a sit down about it, but they did help."

Franklin coach Louis Brown, who also employed Myers on a successful run last fall along the defensive line too, was also a big help. "He was going to support my decision either way too," said Myers.

And so, it came down to his gut instincts.

"It's just what I've felt about Northern Illinois all-along," Myers said. "Everybody I've come in contact with and anyone who's ever had anything to do with the football program is just so close. There's a real family mentality going on there."

Myers is correct in that feeling, as the Huskies fought back from a 2-3 start last fall under first-year coach Dave Doeren to win their last nine in a row, including their first Mid-American Conference championship in 28 years and a victory over Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl, allowing NIU to finish with an 11-3 record.

In that closing run, they won four games by three points or less, implying a strong level of trust and commitment.

Something that Myers truly understands.

"He's just a great kid, who's a joy to have in the building and in class," said retired Franklin Athletic Director Don Kurth. "Very thoughtful and smart."

So in short, the official signing, which was held on Wednesday, became a formality in Myers' head. He probably happily pulled down the extra-large Northern Illinois cap over his stylishly short dreadlocks and then thought about his potential major (either sociology or psychology) or maybe about his 18th birthday, which is coming up on Saturday.

All he really knows is that he made the right decision for the right reasons.

"I'm very excited about this," he said. "The signing is symbolic of the whole process. It means a new chapter in my life - one I'm ready to get started on."

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