Craig Harmon, a former player and graduate assistant coach at Northern Illinois University, has returned to the Huskies as an assistant coach, NIU head coach Rod Carey announced Tuesday. Harmon, a native of Godfrey, Illinois, will coach the NIU tight ends and fullbacks in 2014.
“It’s great to have Craig and his family – his wife Megan and their kids Cooper and Morgan – on board,” Carey said. “He will be a great addition to the staff. Craig played here, he was graduate assistant here, he has blood in the bricks. It means a lot to have him back with the Huskies, both from an X and O standpoint and for recruiting.”
Harmon spent the 2013 season as tight ends coach at Division III power Wisconsin-Whitewater, which posted a 15-0 record and won the national title with a 52-14 win over Mount Union. Prior to 2013, he was the tight ends and assistant offensive line coach at Georgia State University in Atlanta from 2010-2012, working for head coach Bill Curry to help start the GSU program. Georgia State began football in 2010 and by 2012 was in its first season of a two-year transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Harmon spent four seasons at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, where he served as offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator for the Fighting Saints from 2006-2009. Under his direction, the offense broke 10 school records and improved statistically each year. His second stint at NIU came as a graduate assistant coach on Joe Novak’s staff in 2004 and 2005, where he worked with the Huskie offense. NIU posted a 9-3 record and won the Silicon Valley Bowl in 2004 and played in the Mid-American Conference Championship game to complete a 7-5 campaign in 2005.
Harmon’s affiliation with NIU dates back to his playing days as a quarterback for the Huskies in 1998 and 2000. The freshman walk-on, who opened camp as the team’s sixth-string signal-caller in 1998, took over as the NIU starter in the fourth game of the season when attrition and injuries hit the position and finished the year as the Huskies’ top quarterback, completing 82-of-177 passes for 810 yards and two touchdowns. He redshirted the 1999 campaign, but returned to play as a backup quarterback in 2000 before transferring to Quincy University, where he completed his playing career and earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education.
He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater in 2003-04.
Harmon said returning to NIU is a homecoming for him and his family.
“It’s like coming home,” Harmon said. “My family and I couldn’t be happier about returning to NIU. The program means a lot to me. As a player there, we were on the ground floor of starting to turn the program around. Coming back in ’04 and ’05 as a graduate assistant, it was a different atmosphere. To see all the hard work that the past players and coaches put in to become the program that is here now is unbelievable. I’m excited to have an opportunity to be a part of it and continue the success.”
Harmon played his prep football at Alton High School in southern Illinois. His wife, the former Megan Anderson, played soccer for the Huskies.
After posting a 12-2 record and playing in its fourth consecutive MAC Championshp game and sixth straight bowl game in 2013, Northern Illinois University enters the 2014 campaign as one of just three FBS programs in the nation with 11 or more wins in each of the last four years. The Huskies completed the 2013 regular season with a 12-0 record and have won a nation-leading 26 consecutive games in their home stadium dating back to 2009. In 2013, NIU broke nine school offensive records behind All-America quarterback Jordan Lynch, who finished third in voting for the 2013 Heisman Trophy to record the highest finish ever by a player from the MAC.