Illinois to Europe, SIU recruits worldwide

Recruiting is a necessary part for any college athletic program. It replaces old talent with new and can establish a sense of association with the program within surrounding communities.

SIU’s recruiting process begins with what a player can offer athletically, but ends with the mentality they bring to the team, said Jim Jackson, SIU’s football recruiting coordinator.

“When it comes to recruiting, you’re trying to find a way to bring not only great players, but great people into a university,” SIU football recruiting coordinator Jim Jackson said. “As a whole, the university and the community is affected one person at a time. Great kids, people with high morals and people who want their degrees are attracted to each other and because of that are attracted to us.”

The Saluki football team added 25 new recruits during this year’s National Signing Day, five of which came from Georgia and 10 from Illinois. The other 2013 recruits come from states such as Michigan, Kansas and Mississippi.

Ken Malcome, a Georgia recruit, transferred from the University of Georgia. Despite his junior status, Malcome saw less playing time than freshman running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Malcome told CBS Sports he searched for a new college that might let him see the field more often.

That’s when the Salukis became an option, and his eventual destination.

“Our reputation with running backs helped us,” SIU football coach Dale Lennon said. “He was aware of some of the guys that had come before, and he wanted to go somewhere that he could have the opportunity to play.

We’re excited to have Ken in the program, and we’re looking forward to see where his level is at this spring.”

The scouting department’s presence in other states has helped them bring in talent such as Malcome and several others for Saluki sports. It has become a common for schools to expand their search for prospective players beyond their state, but the trend is now stretching across seas.

That is one of the reasons why the eight man roster for the men’s tennis team represents eight different countries, Saluki men’s tennis coach Dann Nelson said.

“Tennis is really popular in other countries,” he said. “Pick a country in Europe. They don’t have baseball or football; they have soccer and then they have tennis. We are always looking for the top players that we can get and they can be from down the street or they can be from across the ocean.”

Nelson said new techniques are needed to find talent since Illinois’ top players are getting recruited by Big 10, SEC or Ivy League schools. Regardless of how a school attains its talent, he said, it is paramount that their recruiting department focuses on getting its best product of play out onto the field.

As Jackson explains, it is not just for the team’s interest.

“When our kids have success on the field, I think it not only affects the university, but it affects its community as well,” he said. “From a social standpoint, people in this region are invested in this university’s teams. Whether it’s the football team, its basketball team or any of the other teams in that sense, they want to wake up in the morning and see how the Salukis did.”

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