Busy weekend for NIU with four local commits

Screenshot of Messiah Travis’ highlights via Hudl.

Northern Illinois had a big weekend of recruiting as four local recruits announced their commitments to the program. The four new high school players that will be joining NIU’s 2019 signing class are: Messiah Travis, Romel Goston, Mark Aitken and Tom Trieb.

Travis (Chicago, Ill.; Solorio Academy) was the first of the group to commit on Friday while the other three made their decisions the following day. He and Goston (Chicago, Ill.; Al Raby) were texting each other about making their decisions together.

Both Travis and Goston play for HEROH, the local 7 vs. 7 team, along with Aitken. By extension, Travis has also met guys like Justin Hall and Joseph Bonds, who signed with NIU in December. While Travis planned on making his commitment before his senior season anyways, he eventually felt like picking the close-to-home NIU this early in the process was the best situation for him.

“If I go to NIU, they’ve got some guys leaving at the receiver spot ,” Travis told MAC Prospectus. “Maybe if I do good, I can get a chance to start my freshman year.

“For me, playing college ball as a freshman — starting — would be a big accomplishment for me. … I had a cousin that could’ve made it (at the sub-Division-I level), but I guess he went to the wrong college.”

Basically, Travis’ cousin was a tall receiver that was told by the coaches of his university-to-be that they’d throw the ball around a lot, specifically to him. But when said cousin went to said university, the said offensive playbook was way more run-oriented than expected.

Just under 6-foot, smaller build that has a lot of speed and return man potential — there’s always a spot for a player like him. D.J. Brown is one of two senior receivers on the roster this season, and he’s listed at 5-foot-9, 188 pounds. Of the 10 total receivers on NIU’s spring roster, six are freshman-eligible. NIU didn’t add any receivers via the junior college route this year, either. Spencer Tears will be the only senior receiver on the roster once Travis enrolls.

“I just wanted to make my mom happy. I wanted to stay close to home. Once I did it, it felt like a huge feeling just came off my chest,” said Travis.

On Goston: On tape, Goston’s a very physical corner back. He’s listed at 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, which is only a bonus. The guy is good about defending passes and making plays behind the line of scrimmage. A three-star recruit by 247sports composite (0.8199), Goston is the No. 30-ranked player from Illinois.

Goston had a good haul of offers that also came from Toledo, Ball State, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, Iowa State, Indiana State, Eastern Michigan, Eastern Kentucky, Western Illinois and Bowling Green.

On Aitken: NIU was the only one to offer the 5-foot-9 cornerback out of Kenwood Academy (Chicago, Ill.). Defensively, Aitken’s a tough player like Goston, but it’s his speed that makes Aitken stand out as an overall prospect. If corner doesn’t work out for Aitken, he could end up being a slot receiver, or at least a return specialist.

On Trieb: This is a big dude who can carry the rock. Listed as an athlete, but Trieb (Buffalo Grove, Ill.; Buffalo Grove), who plays running back and linebacker for his high school team, will be starting out at tight end for NIU — a position he’s never played.* He’s 6-foot-2, 215 pounds and can play both sides of the ball. He’ll have to improve on his footwork and his speed, but what he’s really good at is shedding off defenders while he’s heading upfield. By 247sports composite, he’s a two-star recruit with a grade of 0.7799 and is the No. 39 player in his state. Trieb’s other offer came from Indiana State.

Current list of NIU’s 2019 commits:

Name POS From School 247sports comp. State
Mark Aitken CB/WR Chicago, Ill. Kenwood Illinois
Romel Goston CB Chicago, Ill. Al Raby 0.8199 Illinois
Jalen McGaughy WR Detroit, Mich. Martin Luther King 0.7699 Michigan
Messiah Travis WR Chicago, Ill. Solorio Academy Illinois
Tom Trieb TE/RB/OLB Buffalo Grove, Ill. Buffalo Grove 0.7799 Illinois


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