Southern Illinois hosts annual spring football game

April 19, 2023

Saluki football hosted its spring football game and cookout April 15, and for Southern Illinois football, this is the one day of the year they can show everything they have worked for since the end of the past season.

Not only does this game show the teams improvements, but it also gets the community back in Saluki Stadium for long awaited tailgates, cookouts and involvement with the players.

Before the scrimmage, the Dawg Pound set up a cookout for the community, getting everyone involved and excited for, not only the scrimmage, but also for the upcoming season.


“I take full advantage of these opportunities and never take them for granted,” wide receiver Dante Cox said. “I love interacting with the community and the support they give us. Events like this and community service, going to schools and visiting the kids in the community and helping out with the Saluki kids camp is always a great time.”

The Salukis ended their 2022 season with a 5-6 overall record and concerns for what they need to improve on for this upcoming season. After 14 practices from March 23 and April 25, the Salukis are all on the same page with their goals for this season.

“Throughout spring, defense has learned a whole new system that’s been coming along. Offensively we have been focusing on the details and being on the same page as a unit,” Cox said.

He knows his way around this program as he is going into his fourth season with the Salukis. Taking on a bigger leadership role this season, Cox has been working to help the other receivers improve on their game while working on his own.

In relation to his leadership so far this season, Cox said, “Showing the new guys the ropes and standards that Coach Hill has applied since I got here has made for a great spring.”

Fellow wide receiver, third year student Izaiah Hartrup, is making his comeback this season after a hamstring injury on the first day of the 2022 training camp. Hartrup is taking nothing for granted.

“Last season was a hard time for me… I’m excited to be back and show the progress we have made after working all spring,” he said.


Spring ball really sets the tone for what the team needs to continue improving on when summer training rolls around. Head coach Nick Hill said, “In the spring you’re looking for a certain amount of effort and setting the tone and standards for how you operate and how you do things.”

The Salukis came out with high intensity on both the offensive and defensive ends.

“Spring is about identifying players you feel like can be an impact on this team and getting experience in,” Hill said.

Looking more into improvements come summer training, finishing drives and executing plays are two things that Salukis are always trying to improve on, Cox said.

“When that time rolls around we should know how things operate on the whole, both offense and defense. Just getting the details and listening to the coaches and how they want things ran will get us far,” he said.

The team will kick off its season at Saluki Stadium against Austin Peay for a 6 p.m. game on Sept. 2 with hopes of a great season ahead.

“The fans can expect a great team this season. We have the pieces to be really good and we are ready to overcome the challenges from last season,” Cox said.

Sports reporter Joei Younker can be reached at [email protected].

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