Salukis get recognition for 2011 season

By Gus Bode

A high note came after a down season for nine Saluki football players as the Missouri Valley Football Conference acknowledged player performance with its annual awards.

SIU was represented by three players as first-team, three second-team and three honorable mention All-Conference to cap off the season.


Junior running back Steve Strother celebrates with senior offensive lineman George Danilkowicz Nov. 12 during the SIU football game against Eastern Illinois University at Saluki Stadium. As a return specialist, Strother was named first-team All-MVFC. Nate Hoefert | Daily Egyptian

Senior center Bryan Boemer, senior safety Mike McElroy and junior return specialist Steve Strother were first-team honorees. Senior offensive tackle David Pickard, junior running back Jewel Hampton and junior nose tackle Kayon Swanson were named second-team, and junior defensive end Kenneth Boatright, freshman tight end MyCole Pruitt and freshman kicker Jackson MacLachlan received honorable mention.

McElroy said it was nice to receive the conference awards because it helps heal the wounds from a losing season, but the personal recognition isn’t what the players are after.

“I think every guy who made the award list or who was honored by the conference would trade all of that for an undefeated season or a conference championship,” McElroy said. “I think every single one of us would trade it for a chance to be playing this weekend in a playoff game.”

This was the second time McElroy earned a first-team All-Conference award; he received one in 2009 during his junior year. He finished the season with four interceptions and 48 tackles. Two of those interceptions came in the Salukis’ final game of the season.

Hampton, who recently received the MVFC Newcomer of the Year award, received his first All-Conference accolade with a spot on the second-team roster.

This was Hampton’s first season back on the field after he sat out most of 2010 to recover from his second knee surgery.


He finished third in total rushing yards with 1,121, third with an average of 101.9 yards per game and led the conference with 17 touchdowns.

Hampton said this award means a lot to him now, but even more for what’s ahead for his football career.

“It shows that people still believe in me,” Hampton said. “The recognition itself is a shining light for me.”

The light also shone down on Boemer, as he received his third All-Conference award, and second straight season as first-team. He was also an All-American preseason selection.

Boemer is now set to get back on a training regiment and begin his preparation for a variety of pro-day camps during the spring semester. The camps will provide him with an opportunity to show off his skills in front of scouts associated with professional teams.

Boemer said the conference recognition might help him get invited to the camps, which makes the All-Conference title bittersweet. He said receiving the award is a nice pat on the back, but it would mean more to him if the team could take the field in the playoffs.

“It’s definitely not the note we want to end on but I had fun. That’s the most important thing,” Boemer said. “If I had to go back and do it again, I know I would.”