Daily Egyptian

Hill’s jerseys being retired by alma mater

SIU football coach Nick Hill talks to reporters March 17 in Tedrick Auditorium. (DailyEgyptian.com file photo)

SIU football coach Nick Hill talks to reporters March 17 in Tedrick Auditorium. (DailyEgyptian.com file photo)

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

SIU football coach Nick Hill was an all-state athlete in football and basketball at Du Quoin High School and now his jersey numbers are being retired.

“It’s probably the most rewarding honor I’ve ever received, knowing no one at Du Quoin High School will never wear my jersey again,” he said. “I don’t even know if I deserve that, but it’s definitely humbling for sure.”

The Du Quoin Board of Education voted to retire the No. 17 football and No. 35 basketball jerseys in a meeting on Thursday. Hill was a three-year starting quarterback for the football team.

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The Du Quoin Evening Call reported that alumnus Monte Khnert, who is one of five Du Quoin basketball graduates to have a jersey retired, made the request for a jersey retirement during the opening public comments. The board unanimously approved.

Hill said Khnert, who holds the all-time scoring record at Du Quoin, was always an inspiration growing up.

“Growing up … that was my goal,” he said. “It gave me a goal to shoot for and he had a lot to do with that. As a young kid, he gave someone in Du Quoin something to shoot for.”

Hill said he didn’t know Khnert was going to the Board with the request. The coach said he was in the car with his wife Alicia picking up a friend in St. Louis who flew in to see the couple’s newborn daughter Skylar when Khnert called with the news.

The former Saluki quarterback said the first person he contacted was was Wendell Wheeler, Hill’s basketball coach during his time with the Indians.

Hill, who graduated in 2003, was first-team all-state and all-conference as a senior after accumulating 1,451 yards, 19 touchdowns and one interception.

The new Saluki coach was the team’s first 4,000-yard passer since former MLB pitcher Don Stanhouse in 1968.

“I never really thought my football jersey would be retired because I loved basketball,” he said.

Hill said he wore two different numbers in the sports simply because it was the numbers they gave him.

“I was on the varsity basketball team as a freshman and that was the number they gave me,” he said. “I played, so I didn’t want to change it. Same thing in football, they gave me 17 and I ended up starting so I wasn’t going to change my number.”

Hill said he actually wanted No. 16 in football for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana.

“I had to have 1-20, and I think 17 was the only one left,” he said. “I wasn’t being picky, I was just glad I made the team as a sophomore.”

Hill earned all-state in basketball as a junior after averaging 26.7 points, 6 rebounds and 2.4 assists and again as a senior when he averaged 22.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 3 steals. His senior squad finished 28-5 and Hill finished eighth in state voting for Mr. Basketball. He was one of three Du Quoin Indians players to score 2,000 points.

The former Du Quoin Indian said he wouldn’t have his numbers retired if it wasn’t for being on great teams.

The Salukis will have their first scrimmage game of the spring season April 1 at Du Quoin High School. It will be Hill’s first scrimmage as the SIU coach.

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3333

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