Speedy Streamwood wide receiver Blake Holder's six-month recruiting whirlwind ended Sunday when the senior-to-be gave his verbal commitment to play football for Northern Illinois following his second unofficial campus visit.
NIU was the first school to offer Holder a scholarship last November. Nine more college programs extended offers in the subsequent six months, including Colorado State, Toledo, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Ball State and Illinois State.
Holder took unofficial visits to five of those schools. By February, he had narrowed his choices to NIU and Toledo. A return to the DeKalb campus last weekend helped finalize his decision in favor of the Huskies.
"The visit on Friday to NIU just kind of sealed the deal," Holder said. "I definitely wanted to be a Huskie. I'm excited. I was eager to get the recruiting process over with it. The process is kind of fun at first, then after a while you just want to hone in and make a decision.
"They told me I'll play the X receiver. Their two outside receivers are going to be seniors this year and will graduate by the time I get there. All their experience will be in the slot, so I have a great chance coming in my freshman year. If I prove myself, I think I'll have a chance to start."
As a junior, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound big-play receiver helped lead Streamwood to its first playoff berth in nine years. He made 24 receptions for 587 yards and 6 touchdowns, an average of 24.5 yards per catch. Defensively, the safety grabbed 4 interceptions.
Holder is two-time sectional champion in the 100-meter dash. In May, he won the Class 3A St. Charles North sectional title in 10.96.
Holder will see a familiar face in the NIU locker room when he arrives in 2013. Running back Alex Morrow, a 2011 Streamwood graduate, joins the Huskies this fall.
"That's just icing on the cake," Holder said. "I didn't base my decision off that. It was a school I really wanted to go to. But to be able to go to a school I really like and, on top of that, play football with one of my teammates who is also a close friend of mine is even better."
A student with a 3.5 grade-point average, Holder said he intends to study either business management, sports journalism or sports management.