Brandon Mayes solidified his Northern Illinois football future by sending in his national letter of intent on Wednesday, but Mayes already has been a staunch proponent for the Huskies.
Mayes traveled to Miami for the Jan. 1 Orange Bowl showdown against Florida State, stopping in Orlando to stay at a cousin's house who attended Florida State.
"She was just talking mad smack to me about how this is FSU territory, you guys are going to be so outnumbered," Mayes said. "I was like, whatever, watch.
"[NIU] played hard. It didn't come out as we wanted, obviously, but still, we made it to the Orange Bowl."
Mayes, a defensive back, was joined by fellow Aurora Christian seniors and NIU recruits Joel Bouagnon and Chad Beebe at an afternoon signing ceremony in the school's auditorium. Bouagnon, traveling separately, also attended the Orange Bowl and mingled with Mayes in Miami, while Beebe was admittedly "a little jealous," having to settle for text message reports and a souvenir T-shirt.
"I actually had Christmas Day on that day with my dad's side of the family because that's when we could get everybody together," Beebe said. " … But family's a priority, so you've got to take it as it is."
Beebe, whose father is Aurora Christian coach and former NFL receiver Don Beebe, has been a workhorse since the Eagles won their second consecutive Class 3A state championship in November. The slenderly built receiver gave up basketball to focus on football workouts, already gaining six pounds to bump up to 170 pounds. He plans to continue filling out in the months ahead.
"I have hopes to play next year – whether that happens or not, I don't know, but I want to be able to give it my best effort," Beebe said. "I figured without doing basketball I could achieve that goal moreso, being able to work out more than I would have being in basketball. We've been training 6 days a week now for quite a while, and we'll continue to do so."
Mayes and Bouagnon were both two-way stalwarts for Aurora Christian. While Mayes projects as a defensive player in DeKalb, Bouagnon is slated to give up his linebacking duties and play running back for the Huskies.
Bouagnon thinks he can develop into a versatile, Division I back.
"I'd like to be able to do it all," Bouagnon said. "I don't want to [pigeon-hole] myself into one certain type of playing."
The three plan to room together at NIU.
Jackson Abresch, Heartland, Wis., 6-1, 185, DB
Mycial Allen, Detroit, 6-1, 185, RB
Chad Beebe, Aurora Christian, 6-0, 165 pounds, WR
Joel Bouagnon, Aurora Christian, 6-2, 224, RB
Josh Brebant, Akron, Ohio, 6-0, 195, K
Tate Briggs, Montini, 6-4, 300, OL
Nick Calhoun, Oshkosh, Wis., 6-5, 308, OL
Nick Ciesiak, Waukesha, Wis., 6-3, 170, QB
Justin Corbett, Frankfort, 6-2, 205, DB
Sean Folliard, Prairie Ridge H.S., 6-2, 205, OLB
Jake Heckel, Waukesha, Wis., 6-3, 235, TE
Blake Holder, Streamwood,6-1, 185, WR
Jordan Huff, Mobile, Ala., 5-11, 205, RB
Robert Jones, Miami, 6-0, 210, OLB
William Lee, Indianapolis, 6-2, 290, DT
Ben Maruska, Fond du Lac, 6-5, 290, OL
Brandon Mayes, Aurora Christian, 5-11, 170 CB
Zeb McLaurin, St. Ignatius H.S. , 5-11, 180, DB
Malik Mitchell, Alpharetta, Ga., 185, WR
Jamal Payton, Proviso West, 6-0, 210, LB
Draco Smith, Mount Carmel H.S., 5-9, 165, RB
Aregeros Turner, Copley, Ohio, 5-11, 180, RB
Shane Wimann, Wisconsin Dells, 6-4, 220, TE