Rod Carey did not hesitate when asked how much stock he places in recruiting rankings.

"I put none in it," the Northern Illinois coach said on national signing day Wednesday. "I put a period behind that with an exclamation point.

"I do not care in any way, shape or form what third-party (analysts) say about guys that we've signed … or any other guys that anybody else has signed either. What I do care about is the relationship we have with them, along with their families, their head coaches and the important people in their lives. We go ahead and make our own assessments off of that."

It seems to be working. The Huskies finished 12-2 last season and appeared in their sixth straight bowl game. They are one of only three FBS schools with 11 or more wins in each of the last four years.

NIU's Class of 2014 includes 15 defensive players, 14 offensive players and two specialists.

Carey said he was pleased with his staff's work when it came to building 13-month relationships with the recruits. The Huskies' first appearance in a BCS bowl game after the 2012 season added to the school's exposure and image.

"I said last year that I thought the Orange Bowl would really have an effect a year from now," he said. "And I think you are seeing that ... that door opens for you a little bit."

The class includes players from 11 states, including nine from Illinois, seven from Wisconsin and five from Florida.

"We are always going to take care of the Midwest and Illinois, which we consider our backyard," Carey said. "And we are certainly proud of everyone we have coming in from that area.

"We also are reaching out into the national stage with our play on the field and with our recruiting. And that shows up in this class as well. We feel really fortunate to have the guys from far away that we do."

Carey said he and his staff concentrated on obvious areas of need.