Two Salukis headed to NFL after 2020 Draft

By Brooke Buerck, Sports Reporter

Two former Salukis have found new homes this weekend after the 2020 NFL Draft.

On day two of the draft, safety Jeremy Chinn was selected by the Carolina Panthers of Charlotte, North Carolina, and on the third day, cornerback Madre Harper signed as a free agent with the Las Vegas Raiders. 

Chinn was selected 64th overall, the fourth-highest in SIU history and the highest selection since 1984, when quarterback Rick Johnson was selected 48th overall by the Los Angeles Rams in the second round. 

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Southern’s most recent player drafted, other than Chinn, was tight end MyCole Pruitt, who was selected in the fifth round by the Minnesota Vikings in 2015.

Chinn, who is from Indianapolis, was the Panthers’ third choice overall following defensive tackle Derrick Brown out of Auburn University and defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos out of Penn State. 

In fact, all of Carolina’s seven picks are defensive players. 

According to an April 24 press release from SIU Athletics, Chinn recorded 243 tackles, 13 interceptions, 31 passes defended, and 6 forced fumbles during his career as a Saluki. 

In the NFL Scouting Combine, Chinn ran a 4.45 second 40-yard dash, jumped an 11-foot-6-inch long jump as well as a 41-inch vertical jump. 

Chinn was the first out of just three FCS players to get drafted – the two others include tight end Adam Trautman of Dayton University, who will play for the New Orleans Saints, and wide receiver Isaiah Coulter of the University of Rhode Island, who will play for the Houston Texans. 

Chinn is not the first of his family to play in the NFL; his uncle, Steve Atwater, played 10 seasons for the Denver Broncos and one for the New York Jets, and is an eight-time Pro-Bowl player and a two-time Super Bowl Champion (1997 and 1998). 

SIU Athletics announced on April 25 that Harper had signed with the Raiders, making him the fifth Saluki on an NFL roster alongside Chinn, Pruitt, Seattle Seahawks safety Ryan Neal and Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Craig James.

Harper, who is from Arlington, Texas, joined the Salukis in 2018 as a junior following two years of play at Oklahoma State, where he played in seven games and made 10 tackles. 

Harper’s career as a Saluki finished with him posting high statistics in just a two-year frame. 

“He finished his Saluki career ranked No. 12 all-time in pass breakups with 18 and his 12 PBUs last season were the second-most in school history,” SIU Athletics’ release said. 

In his 2019 season Harper started 10 games and made 11 appearances and finished the season as an All-MVFC honorable mention athlete. 

According to an April 23 SIU Athletics release, tight end Nigel Kilby, running back D.J. Davis and defensive tackle Malik Haynes were also potential draft picks from SIU, but no announcements have yet been made on any of the three athletes signing to a team. 

Sports reporter Brooke Buerck can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bbuerck25.

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